Coming climate crisis? Consider the past, beware the big fix

Claire L. Parkinson

Book - 2010

Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, the author, a distinguished NASA climatologist brings much needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a knowledgeable overview of global conditions past and present, she lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify future... climate. .

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Series
Why of where.
Subjects
Published
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield : Distributed by National Book Network c2010.
Language
English
Physical Description
xix, 411 p. ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780742556157
0742556158
Main Author
Claire L. Parkinson (-)
  • The Earth System and its Ever-Changing Nature : Introduction
  • 4.6 billion years of global change
  • Abrupt climate change
  • The Human Factor : A short history of human impacts
  • The future: why some people are so concerned while others aren't
  • Good Intentions and Geoengineering : Good intentions gone awry
  • Geoengineering schemes
  • The record on smaller-scale attempted modifications
  • Further Cautionary Considerations : The possible fallibility of even a strong consensus
  • The unknown future: model limitations
  • Compounding social pressures
  • Avoiding Paralysis Despite Uncertainty : What are the alternatives?
  • Closing plea.
Review by Choice Reviews

Purposeful modification of climate is not a new concept, but it has received renewed attention due to recent and anticipated global warming. In Coming Climate Crisis? Parkinson (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Earth from Above, CH, Jan'98, 35-2718) examines proposed environmental manipulation strategies for climate change mitigation. The book first addresses climate system behavior, focusing on long-term change and the relative roles of natural and human drivers, including an impressive treatment of uncertainty in the understanding of past, current, and future climate. Though Parkinson subscribes to the consensus view on climate change, she does not hesitate to identify instances in which knowledge is limited. This balanced overview of the climate system and its sensitivity is one of the strengths of this book. The remainder of the work focuses on historical weather modification and proposed geoengineering strategies, pointing out the unintended consequences of the former whenever possible. This historical perspective, and demonstration that the understanding of proposed techniques is imperfect, is used to support the author's cautious position on geoengineering. Instead, Parkinson calls for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and greater research into the possible side effects of proposed geoengineering approaches. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. Copyright 2010 American Library Association.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Climatologist Parkinson (Earth From Above), a senior fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, warns against "massive geoengineering schemes," currently under consideration by government and advocacy groups, meant to avert impending climate catastrophe, but which themselves may have disastrous unintended consequences. Looking at past examples-from Egypt's massive Aswan Dam, which has spread parasitic diseases and is eroding the fertile delta, to the addition of lead to internal combustion engines and paint-Parkinson worries that fixes under discussion today, like capturing and storing carbon waste or introducing sulfur into the stratosphere to reflect solar heat, may actually lead to problems "far worse than the damage that we are already causing." Instead, Parkinson recommends a moderate approach-limiting population growth; replacing fossil fuels with solar, nuclear, and wind power; changing consumption patterns-while more ambitious plans are carefully evaluated for safety and feasibility. She also raises the possibility that, despite present scientific consensus, predictions of impending catastrophe rest too heavily on climate models that are "far from perfect." This thoughtful treatment of a highly controversial subject merits careful attention from the powers that be, and those who wish to influence them. (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Presents the scientific findings on the current climate change and global warming, including climate change projections, the Earth's adaptability, and reasons to be cautious of proposed solutions.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, the author, a distinguished NASA climatologist brings much needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a knowledgeable overview of globalconditions past and present, she lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify future climate. In this work, she presents a coherent synopsis of the 4.6 billion year history of climate change on planet Earth, both before and after humans became a significant factor, and explores current concerns regarding continued global warming and its possibleconsequences. She ranges over the massive geoengineering schemes being proposed and why we need to be cautious about them, the limitations of current global climate models and projections, the key arguments made by those skeptical of the mainstream views, and the realistic ways we can lessen destructive human impacts on our planet. While discussing all of these polarizing topics, the author consistently shows respect for the views of alarmists, skeptics, and the vast majority of people whose positions lie somewhere between those two extremes. The book clarifies some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, and in the process treats us to a discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"This is a book that the author was compelled to write and that everyone needs to read. The climate debate is fierce and polarized, resulting in serious public confusion. Dr. Parkinson has a reasoned, nonadversarial way of illuminating key contentious issues that must be clearly understood before policymakers consider launching initiatives with potentially huge economic and environmental consequences."---Stephen P. Leatherman, Florida International University"Claire Parkinson is an accomplished, respected, and widely published scientist whose opinions on climate change and its solutions are well worth our attention....Parkinson provides an excellent overview of Earth history, the factors affecting Earth's climate and environment, and how those factors have changed over time....She recommends that humanity exhibit extreme caution when considering geoengineering projects. At this juncture in Earth history, the stakes could not be higher as 6.8 billion people currently rely upon the Earth system for survival."---Lonnie Thompson, The Ohio State University"This essential book offers a much-needed assessment of our present understanding of climate change. Written with care and attention to detail, it delivers a compelling message that could influence how humankind responds to climate change. It also provides a balanced perspective and unique insights into today's scientific process that should be required reading for scientists, the media, and the public alike. Books by others...cannot begin to compete with this book's insights into the scientific process (gained by Parkinson's more than thirty years in the scientific trenches) or with the balance in the presentation.---John E. Walsh, University of Alaska and University of Illinois.Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change, Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global conditions past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of various projects now under consideration to modify future climate.In one compact volume, Parkinson presents a coherent synopsis of the 4.6-billion-year history of climate change on planet Earth---both before and after humans became a significant factor---and explores current concerns regarding continued global warming and its possible consequences. She ranges over the massive geoengineering schemes being proposed and why we need to be cannous about them, the limitations of current global climate models and projections, the key arguments made by those skeptied of the mamstream views, and the realistic ways we can lessen destructive human impacts on our planet. While discussing all of these polarizing topics, the author consistently shows respect for the views of alarmists, skeptics, and the vast majority of people whose positions he somewhere between those two extremes. The book clarifies some of the most contentious points in the climate debate and in the process treats us to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature. Readers will be rewarded with a genuine understanding of a complex issue that could be among the most important facing human kind in the coming decades.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global change past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of projects now under consideration to modify future climate. She places current climate change in the perspective of the past 4.6 billion years and delves into the bases of our understandings and their limitations. While clarifying some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, the book treats the reader to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature.