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1 Burnside Environmental Studies- Climate Change and Global Warming

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Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change


Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change Cover

ISBN13: 9780226092041
ISBN10: 0226092046
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Every decade since 1950 has seen more floods and more wildfires on every continent. Deserts are expanding, coral reefs are dying, fisheries are declining, hurricanes are strengthening. The debate about climate change is over: there’s no question that global warming has made the Earth sick, and the outlook for the future calls for ever-warmer temperatures and deadlier results. Something must be done, but how quickly?

With Global Fever, William H. Calvin delivers both a clear-eyed diagnosis and a strongly worded prescription. In striking, straightforward language, he first clearly sets out the current state of the Earth's warming climate and the disastrous possibilities ahead should we continue on our current path. Increasing temperatures will kill off vegetation and dry up water resources, and their loss will lead, in an increasingly destructive feedback loop, to even more warming. Resource depletion, drought, and disease will follow, leading to socioeconomic upheaval (and accompanying violence) on a scale barely conceivable.

It is still possible, Calvin argues, to avoid such a dire fate. But we must act now, aggressively funneling resources into jump-starting what would amount to a third industrial revolution, this one of clean technologies, while simultaneously expanding our use of existing low-emission technologies, from nuclear power to plug-in hybrid vehicles, until we achieve the necessary scientific breakthroughs.

Passionately written, yet thoroughly grounded in the latest climate science, Global Fever delivers both a stark warning and an ambitious blueprint for saving the future of our planet.


"Calvin dissects the ongoing controversies over global warming like a master surgeon. Global Fever offers a sobering diagnosis for the future and a realistic assessment of effective strategies for living with the major climatic changes that are humanity's destiny." Brian Fagan, author of The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization


"This is perhaps the most accessible book that I have ever read about how humanity is changing Earth's climate, and what can be done about it." David Archer, author of Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast

About the Author

William H. Calvin is professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle and the author of fourteen books, including A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Climate Change, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

1.   The Big Picture

2.   We're Not in Kansas Anymore

3.   Will This Overheated Frog Move?

4.   "Pop!" Goes the Climate

5.   Drought's Slippery Slope

6.   Why Deserts Expand

7.   From Creeps to Leaps

8.   What Makes a Cycle Vicious?

9.   That Pale Blue Sky

10.  Slip Locally, Crash Globally

11.  Come Hell and High Water

12.  Methane is the Double Threat

13.  Sudden Shifts in Climate

14.  A Sea of CO2

15.  The Extended Forecast

16.  Doing Things Differently

17.  Cleaning Up Our Act

18.  The Climate Optimist

19.  Turning Around by 2020

20.  Arming for a Great War

21.  Get It Right on the First Try

     Read Widely

     List of Illustrations



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brian891988, December 4, 2008 (view all comments by brian891988)
Our world’s climate patterns are changing rapidly. Places are experiencing more floods, droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires every decade since the Industrial Revolution. Earth is moving into a downward spiral towards irreversible climate change. Many species will die, the sea level will rise several meters, and rainforests may become nonexistent. What is the cause of this climate change? The answer is the increasing amount of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) over the last several decades. There are many steps we can take to decrease our CO2 emissions, but we need to do more than just emit less CO2. We need to eliminate CO2 emissions altogether in our atmosphere and find a way to remove the carbon dioxide that has already been released. William H. Calvin’s book Global Fever explains this problem, analyzes it, and offers a variation of solutions.

Global Fever begins by addressing the situation of climate change. It was first noticed in the 1950s that our world was facing this problem, and in the years since it has only gotten worse. Deserts are expanding rapidly, rainforests are burning, droughts are lingering in areas that normally receive abundant rainfall, and hurricanes are the strongest they have ever been. The main player in climate change is carbon dioxide. The world’s ever-growing demand for petroleum and coal has caused catastrophic changes in worldwide climate. When petroleum or coal is burned, large amounts of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. After many years of increased use of these materials for energy needs, the amount of carbon dioxide present in Earth’s atmosphere has reached its highest in millennia.

A specific example of a consequence of “business as usual” is a rise in worldwide sea level. Calvin goes into detail of what would happen if Earth’s average temperature were to raise just 3°C. He explains that every year in recent decades more ice from icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica has been melting. The melting ice then flows from the ice over the land and into the sea. This causes that sea level to rise. But there is a greater problem than that. When the temperature rises above freezing during the day in the high latitudes, and ice begins to melt, a melt water lake can form on top of many meters of ice. This lake can penetrate the ice cap and seep down into the ice through small cracks. When water melts and forms ice it expands, but if there is no room for it to expand, then it becomes supercooled liquid water beneath the ice. When this happens under an ice sheet, eventually part of the ice sheet will be resting on a liquid cushion. Now the ice sheet is unstuck from the rock surface below. If this part of the ice sheet is near the coastline, large chunks of ice can unexpectedly collapse into the ocean and the sea level will rise at an unpredictable rate. The more of these ponds that form, the more of a risk there is for large amounts of ice to be relocated into the ocean in very little time. The consequences of just a six-meter sea level rise (which could happen by the 22nd century) would be enormous. Coastal cities such as Tokyo, Amsterdam, Miami, and New Orleans, among many others, would be destroyed.

Calvin then asks the question: Why is it that if we have known about climate change since the 1950s, that we haven’t eliminated emissions yet? The answer is that disinformation campaigns to confuse the public early on and now are responsible. Companies immediately began concerted, well-funded efforts to confuse the public about the subject. Companies that would be directly affected by a drop in oil consumption used these campaigns to delay action and profit by it. No democracy is going to tax itself for a remake without a wide acceptance of what is at stake, and even though much of the public knows about the situation, there are still skeptics. As a result of these delays in action, climate change is now worse than ever.

So what are possible solutions? First, the entire public needs to be aware of climate change and accept that it is caused by human activities, not only in the US but also around the world. Next, we need to find different energy sources other than coal and petroleum. And thirdly, new technology will have to be implemented. Some different energy sources that Calvin tells about are nuclear, geothermal, and wind energy. Nuclear power is clean (in respect to greenhouse gas emissions) and has a very good safety record. Geothermal power is also clean, and probably our best option for an energy substitute. New technology, such as hydrogen-powered cars and a way for CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere, needs to be created.

We need to change our act now. There is no time to waste. Calvin says that if CO-2 emissions don't decline by 2020 and be eliminated by 2040, that many of the predicted consequences will occur. The world needs to make a concerted effort to reduce emissions. We need to think of our future generations and what kind of world we will leave them.

In my opinion, the information in Global Fever is well presented and well researched. Calvin uses many analogies to explain climate change to help it be more easily understood. Also, many diagrams and graphs are presented to help facilitate the understanding of each specific topic covered. This book clearly explains the current situation of climate change and gives Calvin’s own opinions on what needs to be done. He mainly points the finger at “big business” for the delay in action over the past half century. Through well-researched examples he makes us also realize that climate change is our fault. Global Fever continuously makes clear the gravity of this situation and well thought out solutions are presented. This book is an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about climate change and what we can and need to do the reverse it.
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Product Details

Calvin, William H.
University of Chicago Press
Climatic changes
Environmental Science
Earth Sciences - Meteorology & Climatology
Public Policy - Environmental Policy
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
March 2008
Grade Level:
118 halftones, 9 line drawings
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Climate Change and Global Warming
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226092041 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Calvin dissects the ongoing controversies over global warming like a master surgeon. Global Fever offers a sobering diagnosis for the future and a realistic assessment of effective strategies for living with the major climatic changes that are humanity's destiny."
"Review" by , "This is perhaps the most accessible book that I have ever read about how humanity is changing Earth's climate, and what can be done about it."
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