Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

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( su 20 valutazioni fornite da Goodreads )
 
9780691057750: Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming


Most of us have heard the dire predictions about global warming. Some experts insist that warming has already started, and they warn of such impending disasters as the sea level rising to flood coastal cities. Others, however, have issued loud counterclaims, assuring us that global warming is a myth based on misleading data. How can we tell who is right, and how we should respond? And why is there no scientific consensus on a matter of such vital importance? George Philander addresses these questions in this book, as he guides the nonscientific reader through new ideas about the remarkable and intricate factors that determine the world's climate.


In simple, nontechnical language, Philander describes how the interplay between familiar yet endlessly fascinating phenomena--winds and clouds, light and air, land and sea--maintains climates that permit a glorious diversity of fauna and flora to flourish on Earth. That interplay also creates such potent weather disrupters as El Niño and La Niña, translates modest fluctuations in sunlight into global climate changes as dramatic as the Ice Age, and determines the Earth's response to the gases we are discharging into the atmosphere, such as those that led to the ozone hole over Antarctica and those that are likely to cause global warming. In his discussion of these matters, Philander emphasizes that our planet is so complex that the scientific results will always have uncertainties. To continue to defer action on environmental problems, on the grounds that more accurate scientific results will soon be available, could lead to a crisis. To make wise decisions, it will help if the public is familiar with the geosciences, which explore the processes that make ours a habitable planet.


The book is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Earth's climate and weather, and will be an important contribution to the debate about climate change and the relationship between scientific knowledge and public affairs.


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Review:

Is the Temperature Rising? Well, yes, according to S. George Philander, a geoscientist at Princeton University whose introductory course in climatology provided the seed of this book. Written in a clear, literate style aimed at the layperson, Philander is a welcome antidote to the all-too-often sensational claims made by one side or the other in the global-warming debate. This is not to say that his book is comforting: Philander has little doubt that current conditions on earth--the proliferation of CFCs in the atmosphere, the forest fires and factory emissions that contribute to the destruction of the ozone and to the blanket of gases that trap heat--are having damaging effects. In the long run, he writes, the earth can take care of itself, adapting to the changes in its atmosphere; over the short term, however, the picture is grimmer, for no one can predict with any certainty just how these atmospheric changes will play out. And herein lies the real interest in Is the Temperature Rising? Rather than rant about imminent doom or deny it, Philander explains just why it is so difficult to forecast the consequences of global warming. Clouds, for example, are a huge uncertainty, since they can either heat or cool the earth depending on their form.

But just because you can't predict exactly what will happen is no reason not to do something about the problem, Philander argues. He opposes those who suggest we wait for more accurate scientific information about global warming on the grounds that the science of climatology will never be exact; put off making decisions for too long, he warns, and it could be too late. Is the Temperature Rising? is both a solid explanation of the factors that contribute to global warning and a no-nonsense exhortation to act while there is still time.

From the Back Cover:


"Philander writes in a fluid an engaging style and puts passion into his arguments for science literacy. The issues he touches on. . .will be of great interest both to those who are merely curious about nature and to those who are concerned about the policy issues."--Laurence A. Marschall, Gettysburg College


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