As scientists carefully search for clues in the sun and storm patterns from our distant past, they are gradually writing a new history of Earth's climate. Layers extracted from cores drilled into glaciers and ice sheets, sediments collected from the shores of lakes and oceans, and growth rings exposed in ancient corals and trees all tell the same surprising story.
It is now apparent that alterations in our climate can happen quickly and dramatically. Physical evidence reveals that centuries of slow, creeping climate variations have actually been punctuated by far more rapid changes. While this new paradigm represents a significant shift in our picture of Earth's past, the real question is what it means for our future.
Many researchers are now quietly abandoning the traditional vision of a long, slow waltz of slumbering ice ages and more temperate periods of interglacial warming. While they've long recognized the threats posed by global warming, they must now consider that the natural behavior of our climate is perhaps a greater threat than we'd imagined. And though there is no need for immediate alarm, the fact that changes in our climate can happen much more quickly than we'd originally thought--perhaps in the course of a human lifetime--makes it clear that science has a lot of questions to answer in this area. What are the mechanisms for triggering a significant climate change? In what ways should we expect this change to manifest itself? When will it likely happen? Climate Crash seeks to answer these questions, breaking the story of rapid climate change to a general public that is already intensely curious about what science has to say on the topic.
"A thorough and compelling account of the controversial study of the fickleness of the world s climate."
-- Mother Jones, May 2005
"John Cox provides an engaging account of the adventures and excitement of the discovery of abrupt climate change, and he highlights the potentially serious implications that this discovery has for humanity."
-- Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University
"This engaging book is full of information that will be new to many, despite its grave importance. Even scientists have often swallowed the comfortable idea that things in the future will go much as in the past. That s unlikely, and Cox s book can help prepare us for the real future."
-- Spencer Weart, author of The Discovery of Global Warming
"John Cox guides us through the intricacies of the latest research behind controversies surrounding abrupt and long-term climate change. He provides a succinct analysis of cutting-edge climatological research into a fundamental issue for all of humanity."
-- Brian Fagan, author of The Long Summer
"John Cox elegantly chronicles the limits to our understanding of our chaotic and unpredictable climate. In the face of invisible thresholds, disproportionate reactions and stunning surprises, Climate Crash presents a compelling call for humility, respect and, above all, caution."
-- Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point
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