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The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's… (2009)

por David Archer

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If you think that global warming means slightly hotter weather and a modest rise in sea levels that will persist only so long as fossil fuels hold out (or until we decide to stop burning them), think again. In The Long Thaw, David Archer, one of the world's leading climatologists, predicts that if we continue to emit carbon dioxide we may eventually cancel the next ice age and raise the oceans by 50 meters. The great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland may take more than a century to melt, and the overall change in sea level will be one hundred times what is forecast for 2100. By comparing the global warming projection for the next century to natural climate changes of the distant past, and then looking into the future far beyond the usual scientific and political horizon of the year 2100, Archer reveals the hard truths of the long-term climate forecast. Archer shows how just a few centuries of fossil-fuel use will cause not only a climate storm that will last a few hundred years, but dramatic climate changes that will last thousands. Carbon dioxide emitted today will be a problem for millennia. For the first time, humans have become major players in shaping the long-term climate. In fact, a planetwide thaw driven by humans has already begun. But despite the seriousness of the situation, Archer argues that it is still not too late to avert dangerous climate change--if humans can find a way to cooperate as never before. Revealing why carbon dioxide may be an even worse gamble in the long run than in the short, this compelling and critically important book brings the best long-term climate science to a general audience for the first time.… (mais)
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Another entry in the let's explain global warming to the layman genre. It's not a very good book for that; I had no trouble following the arguments, because I am an environmental scientist. I already know the arguments. But I still found myself confused at times by the style of argumentation used. What was he saying? He also made some errors that were actually very crucial points. Is global warming really going to lead to increased plant growth? If it happens in a controlled laboratory setting, sure. But not likely in the world. He also suggests that he's going to talk about the affects in a long-distant future, and the last section is devoted to that, but spends most of its time on the present century, which is what he complains about everyone else doing. He occasionally mentions the long distant (thousands of years) into the future, but this part of the project is doomed from the start - our projections begin to be much less accurate the farther we get from the present, and so devoting an entire third of a book to this topic is unlikely to be fulfilling. It's mostly going to come down to folks, it's going to be bad, and it's going to be bad for a long time. Which is about what it amounts to. Also, the constant use of scientific abbreviations is probably offputting to the lay reader. I don't recommend this one particularly highly. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Nov 10, 2013 |
Archer, who blogs at RealClimate, gives us a good explanation of what we know and don’t know about the future of Earth’s climate, and how we know it. He explains the causes of climate change and the implications for the near and long-term future. The writing is succinct and accessible, though there are spots where it could’ve used another pass by an editor. ( )
  slothman | Apr 12, 2009 |
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If you think that global warming means slightly hotter weather and a modest rise in sea levels that will persist only so long as fossil fuels hold out (or until we decide to stop burning them), think again. In The Long Thaw, David Archer, one of the world's leading climatologists, predicts that if we continue to emit carbon dioxide we may eventually cancel the next ice age and raise the oceans by 50 meters. The great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland may take more than a century to melt, and the overall change in sea level will be one hundred times what is forecast for 2100. By comparing the global warming projection for the next century to natural climate changes of the distant past, and then looking into the future far beyond the usual scientific and political horizon of the year 2100, Archer reveals the hard truths of the long-term climate forecast. Archer shows how just a few centuries of fossil-fuel use will cause not only a climate storm that will last a few hundred years, but dramatic climate changes that will last thousands. Carbon dioxide emitted today will be a problem for millennia. For the first time, humans have become major players in shaping the long-term climate. In fact, a planetwide thaw driven by humans has already begun. But despite the seriousness of the situation, Archer argues that it is still not too late to avert dangerous climate change--if humans can find a way to cooperate as never before. Revealing why carbon dioxide may be an even worse gamble in the long run than in the short, this compelling and critically important book brings the best long-term climate science to a general audience for the first time.

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