Global Warming and Ecology/Ecological Pollution/Higher Education in Geography.
Subtitled, The Next 100,000 Years of Life on the Planet, this book takes the view of that future as seen through the eyes of a paleoecologist, a term so new it doesn’t even appear in my edition of my usual go-to dictionary, the SOED. It describes a scientist who deals with ecology through the lens of ancient, geological history.
I chose the book as one of a number of research sources for my latest novel because it allows for a wider and longer term look at the possible consequences of global climate change.
Clearly, this work demands a degree of concentration and some knowledge of the core subjects. But it is written in a style that should be accessible by the majority of readers. That style is a mix of well-explained deep science and comment on the many different ideas and viewpoints of those with significant interest in the future of our planet.
The author takes a pragmatic stance, devoid of the blinkers that obscure the views of many specialists. This means the material is well-balanced and relatively neutral in approach, but presented from the longer term point of view of a science that deals in geological rather than short-term time scales.
After the Prologue, which explains the author’s viewpoint and personal background as well as an overall idea of what the book is about, the volume is divided into the following chapters, which I’ll list as an indication of the breadth and depth of topics discussed: Stopping the Ice, Beyond Global Warming, The Last Great Thaw, Life in a Super-Greenhouse, Future Fossils, Oceans of Acid, The Rising Tide, An Ice-Free Arctic, The Greening of Greenland, What About the Tropics?, Bringing it Home. The book ends with a substantial Epilogue that ties everything up while describing a personal journey.
From a book of such depth and scope, it’s impossible to form a comprehensive precis. All I can do here is provide a flavour and my own response to the knowledge contained, and why that is important to me as a reader.
I found it easy to read, though demanding concentration and attention. I learned many things new to me. I also encountered subject matter I’d previously read in different forms; a useful confirmation that the subject under examination carried some agreement among the many scientists involved. But there were also portions that caused consideration of the widely varying views of climate change as viewed by the panoply of scientists working in the field. Everything from the ultra-conservative to the possibly over-imaginative sensationalist is considered here in relation to climate change.
The wide-ranging list of topics provides a good, clear view of potential issues that we may all encounter during the Anthropocene Epoch in which we all now live.
Climate change is, or should be, our prime concern. It is the feature that will most affect the future of our species, and that of many others. It respects no national borders, no race, no religious grouping, no political persuasion, no commercial self-interest, no economic system. Everyone now alive, as well as our children and their offspring, will be affected to some degree by the changes now occurring on this small blue marble we inhabit. This book sets out to explain how we may be affected, giving views from many different sources, and it is up to us to decide how much all that matters.
For me, as a writer of fiction dealing with the near future, the material was informative and inspiring of ideas for the text of my novel. But everyone would benefit from knowing the information within these pages. Perhaps we should encourage those in authority not only to read the book but to ensure it becomes an integral part of the education of our children.
I leave the final words of this review to the author: ‘For better or for worse, we are both the products and the creators of this remarkable new Age of Humans, and we will be the ones to decide the direction it takes from here on into the deep future. Welcome, everyone, to the Anthropocene.’
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]