July 23, 2008

Book Review - With Speed and Violence

Pearce, an environmental science journalist, shares his increasing concern about global warming through this book. He writes that the more he learns about scientific predictions for environmental change, the worse things look. If any one clear message is conveyed through this book, it is that scientific predictions are uncertain. Pearce presents the complexity of global warming in a way that makes science approachable. He first presents some historical background on global climate study, discussing research that investigates the planet using core sampling as well as efforts to document climate and oceanography in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most parts of the book address different components of the climate change system: melting ice, deforestation and increasing carbon in the atmosphere, and fuel use contributions to warming temperatures. He combines these themes with information about geomorphology to analyze the cycle of ice ages and warming trends. He studies the balance of climate experiences within the earth system, showing how desert in Africa balances rain forest in South America, and looking at the effects of ocean behavior such as monsoons and El Nino phenomenon on terrestrial weather. The last two sections summarize the science, but conclude that the present climate situation is a turning point unlike past climate changes. Several possible tipping points are considered. Pearce clearly sends the message that everyone should be concerned about global climate change and that society needs to take immediate actions to turn us away from these tipping points. This book is based on a great depth of scientific research, but citations to that body of work are few for those who want to read further on this topic.

This book can be found in HECSA Library:

With Speed and Violoence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change
Fred Pearce
QC 981.8 .C5 P415 2008