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The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat

by

The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The story of carbon—the building block of life that, ironically, is humanitys great threat.

Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect of life: Indeed, all living things need it to stay alive, and carbon cycles through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere in a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. Yet, since the start of the industrial era, carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle, and chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet. In The Carbon Age, science writer Eric Roston evokes this essential element, illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization, and chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used carbon over centuries. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston charts how we reached the brink of catastrophe, making us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has on our lives.

Eric Roston covered technology, international trade, and energy issues at Time magazine for six years. This is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect and chemical scaffolding of life and civilization; indeed, all living things draw carbon from their environments to stay alive, and the great cycle by which carbon moves through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere has long been a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. And yet, when we hear the word today, it is more often than not in a crisis context: carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle; chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet; the volatile Middle East explodes atop its stores of volatile hydrocarbons; carbohydrates threaten obesity and diabetes.

In The Carbon Age, Eric Roston evokes this essential element, its journey illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization. Charting the science of carbon—how it was formed, how it came to Earth and built up—he chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used it over centuries, and the growing catastrophe of the industrial era, leading us to now attempt to wrestle the Earths geochemical cycle back from the brink. Combining the latest scientific research with original reporting, Roston makes us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has, and has had, on our lives.

"This elegant volume takes readers on a grand tour of carbons role in the universe, from the elements star-crossed birth billions of years ago to its role in the fossil-fuel industry and global warming."—Newsweek

"Follow carbon's journey from how it is born in stars to how it became the molecular backbone of DNA, plastic, sugar, and fat. There's a bigger story to this man-made time bomb than makes the headlines."—Discover

"Fascinating . . . [The Carbon Age] is teeming with unexpected information and is a grand tour of the universe."—Nature

"Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, though strangely it is relatively scarce on Earth. But our world is built on it—and may die of it, too. This is the story of 'life's core element,' from the Carboniferous era to our carbon footprint . . . Roston fits in discourses on bulletproof vests, buckyballs and more, quoting everyone from Hippocrates to Yoko Ono. Carbon neutral it isn't."—New Scientist

"In order to understand the issue of climate change—or, for that matter, almost any issue relating to energy and life—its necessary to understand carbon. Fortunately, its an absolutely fascinating element, as Eric Roston shows in this delightful book. His narrative is a wonderful way to relish some basic science as well as understand some of the most profound policy issues we face."—Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

"Roston's book convinced me that the fastest way to understand 'everything larger than an atom and smaller than a planet,' is through the element carbon. It occupies a central role in the current debate about climate, but it's also found in the food we eat, the pills we pop—even high-end tennis rackets and bicycles."—Juliet Eilperin, on NPR's "All Things Considered"

"The story of carbon is our story, of course. It's an exciting journey—from cyanobacteria through the old and new gingko tree, to the intellectual wonder of organic synthesis, and our dangerous romance with the internal combustion engine."—Roald Hoffmann, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters at Cornell University and 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

"With delightful verve and zest, Roston explores the awesomely cornucopian roles of carbon, ranging from cosmic to cellular, from climate to cancer. He also makes a compelling case that human destiny and carbon are now inextricably coupled."—Dudley Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

“If you thought oxygen was important, wait till you read this brilliantly researched tale of carbon, the element that makes possible diamonds, the ‘lead in your pencil, even ‘you— and the element that is likely to occupy many headlines in the years ahead because we cant live without it and we may not be able to live with it.”—Norm Augustine, former chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and chairman of the study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm

“Carbon, the citizen king of elements, governs who we are and what life is—but the king is going mad! Citizens, revolt against the despots, or all may be lost!”—James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

“A most accessible and thoroughly enjoyable way to gain real insight into a series of profoundly important subjects including, notably, the hellish risks we now face with climate change. I liked this book and plan to read it again.”—James Gustave Speth, dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World

“Eric Roston provides an unparalleled tour of carbons role in life. This is a journey that every reader will find surprising and thoroughly enjoyable."—Richard A. Meserve, President of the Carnegie Institution for Science

"Eric Roston's wonderful book, The Carbon Age, makes it clear that we have had a gap in popular writing about energy, climate, and the beauty of science. The imperatives before us to reduce carbon emissions and think scientifically about our world are clearer than ever before." —Dr. David Suzuki, scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster

"A high-level entry in the single-element history genre . . . Lucid and occasionally disturbing."—Kirkus Reviews

"With this book, Roston, a former technology reporter for Time magazine, gives readers a substantial context to the sound bytes concerning climate change—the carbon cycle, the carbon footprint, carbon emissions, global warming—that are flung at us with little explanation. The first half traces carbon's history from the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang, and the nucleosynthesis (the formation of the elements) through the life cycle of stars, and then covers the development of life and dynamics of the 'natural' carbon cycle of Earth. The second section spans the last 150 years and delves into the impact of humans on the climate in creating what Roston calls the 'industrial carbon cycle.' Without using a great deal of scientific jargon, Roston leads us patiently and clearly through this complex issue."—Margaret F. Dominy, Library Journal

"A convincing argument that the earth is at a crossroad, the time for denial has passed and the time for smart, innovative solutions has arrived."—Publishers Weekly

 

Synopsis:

The story of carbon--the building block of life that, ironically, is humanity's great threat.

Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect of life: Indeed, all living things need it to stay alive, and carbon cycles through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere in a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. Yet, since the start of the industrial era, carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle, and chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet. In The Carbon Age, science writer Eric Roston evokes this essential element, illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization, and chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used carbon over centuries. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston charts how we reached the brink of catastrophe, making us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has on our lives. Eric Roston covered technology, international trade, and energy issues at Time magazine for six years. This is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C. Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect and chemical scaffolding of life and civilization; indeed, all living things draw carbon from their environments to stay alive, and the great cycle by which carbon moves through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere has long been a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. And yet, when we hear the word today, it is more often than not in a crisis context: carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle; chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet; the volatile Middle East explodes atop its stores of volatile hydrocarbons; carbohydrates threaten obesity and diabetes.

In The Carbon Age, Eric Roston evokes this essential element, its journey illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization. Charting the science of carbon--how it was formed, how it came to Earth and built up--he chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used it over centuries, and the growing catastrophe of the industrial era, leading us to now attempt to wrestle the Earth's geochemical cycle back from the brink. Combining the latest scientific research with original reporting, Roston makes us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has, and has had, on our lives.

This elegant volume takes readers on a grand tour of carbon's role in the universe, from the element's star-crossed birth billions of years ago to its role in the fossil-fuel industry and global warming.--Newsweek

Follow carbon's journey from how it is born in stars to how it became the molecular backbone of DNA, plastic, sugar, and fat. There's a bigger story to this man-made time bomb than makes the headlines.--Discover

Fascinating . . . The Carbon Age] is teeming with unexpected information and is a grand tour of the universe.--Nature

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, though strangely it is relatively scarce on Earth. But our world is built on it--and may die of it, too. This is the story of 'life's core element, ' from the Carboniferous era to our carbon footprint . . . Roston fits in discourses on bulletproof vests, buckyballs and more, quoting everyone from Hippocrates to Yoko Ono. Carbon neutral it isn't.--New Scientist

In order to understand the issue of climate change--or, for that matter, almost any issue relating to energy and life--it's necessary to understand carbon. Fortunately, it's an absolutely fascinating element, as Eric Roston shows in this delightful book. His narrative is a wonderful way to relish some basic science as well as understand some of the most profound policy issues we face.--Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

Roston's book convinced me that the fastest way to understand 'everything larger than an atom and smaller than a planet, ' is through the element carbon. It occupies a central role in the current debate about climate, but it's also found in the food we eat, the pills we pop--even high-end tennis rackets and bicycles.--Juliet Eilperin, on NPR's All Things Considered

The story of carbon is our story, of course. It's an exciting journey--from cyanobacteria through the old and new gingko tree, to the intellectual wonder of organic synthesis, and our dangerous romance with the internal combustion engine.--Roald Hoffmann, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters at Cornell University and 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

With delightful verve and zest, Roston explores the awesomely cornucopian roles of carbon, ranging from cosmic to cellular, from climate to cancer. He also makes a compelling case that human destiny and carbon are now inextricably coupled.--Dudley Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

If you thought oxygen was important, wait till you read this brilliantly researched tale of carbon, the element that makes possible diamonds, the 'lead' in your pencil, even 'you'-- and the element that is likely to occupy many headlines in the years ahead because we can't live without it and we may not be able to live with it.--Norm Augustine, former chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and chairman of the study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm

Carbon, the citizen king of elements, governs who we are and what life is--but the king is going mad Citizens, revolt against the despots, or all may be lost --James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

A most accessible and thoroughly enjoyable way to gain real insight into a series of profoundly important subjects including, notably, the hellish risks we now face with climate change. I liked this book and plan to read it again.--James Gustave Speth, dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and author of The Bridge at the Edge of the Worl

Synopsis:

The story of carbonthe building block of life that, ironically, is humanitys great threat.

Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect of life: Indeed, all living things need it to stay alive, and carbon cycles through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere in a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. Yet, since the start of the industrial era, carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle, and chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet. In The Carbon Age, science writer Eric Roston evokes this essential element, illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization, and chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used carbon over centuries. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston charts how we reached the brink of catastrophe, making us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has on our lives.

About the Author

Eric Roston covered technology, international trade, and energy issues at Time magazine for six years. This is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802717511
Author:
Roston, Eric
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Chemistry - Organic
Subject:
Life Sciences - Ecology
Subject:
General science
Subject:
Earth Sciences
Subject:
Environmental Studies-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20090531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW Illustrations throughout
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.29 x 5.51 x 0.85 in
Age Level:
How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's

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Product details 320 pages Walker & Company - English 9780802717511 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The story of carbon--the building block of life that, ironically, is humanity's great threat.

Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect of life: Indeed, all living things need it to stay alive, and carbon cycles through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere in a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. Yet, since the start of the industrial era, carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle, and chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet. In The Carbon Age, science writer Eric Roston evokes this essential element, illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization, and chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used carbon over centuries. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston charts how we reached the brink of catastrophe, making us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has on our lives. Eric Roston covered technology, international trade, and energy issues at Time magazine for six years. This is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C. Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect and chemical scaffolding of life and civilization; indeed, all living things draw carbon from their environments to stay alive, and the great cycle by which carbon moves through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere has long been a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. And yet, when we hear the word today, it is more often than not in a crisis context: carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle; chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet; the volatile Middle East explodes atop its stores of volatile hydrocarbons; carbohydrates threaten obesity and diabetes.

In The Carbon Age, Eric Roston evokes this essential element, its journey illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization. Charting the science of carbon--how it was formed, how it came to Earth and built up--he chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used it over centuries, and the growing catastrophe of the industrial era, leading us to now attempt to wrestle the Earth's geochemical cycle back from the brink. Combining the latest scientific research with original reporting, Roston makes us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has, and has had, on our lives.

This elegant volume takes readers on a grand tour of carbon's role in the universe, from the element's star-crossed birth billions of years ago to its role in the fossil-fuel industry and global warming.--Newsweek

Follow carbon's journey from how it is born in stars to how it became the molecular backbone of DNA, plastic, sugar, and fat. There's a bigger story to this man-made time bomb than makes the headlines.--Discover

Fascinating . . . The Carbon Age] is teeming with unexpected information and is a grand tour of the universe.--Nature

Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, though strangely it is relatively scarce on Earth. But our world is built on it--and may die of it, too. This is the story of 'life's core element, ' from the Carboniferous era to our carbon footprint . . . Roston fits in discourses on bulletproof vests, buckyballs and more, quoting everyone from Hippocrates to Yoko Ono. Carbon neutral it isn't.--New Scientist

In order to understand the issue of climate change--or, for that matter, almost any issue relating to energy and life--it's necessary to understand carbon. Fortunately, it's an absolutely fascinating element, as Eric Roston shows in this delightful book. His narrative is a wonderful way to relish some basic science as well as understand some of the most profound policy issues we face.--Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

Roston's book convinced me that the fastest way to understand 'everything larger than an atom and smaller than a planet, ' is through the element carbon. It occupies a central role in the current debate about climate, but it's also found in the food we eat, the pills we pop--even high-end tennis rackets and bicycles.--Juliet Eilperin, on NPR's All Things Considered

The story of carbon is our story, of course. It's an exciting journey--from cyanobacteria through the old and new gingko tree, to the intellectual wonder of organic synthesis, and our dangerous romance with the internal combustion engine.--Roald Hoffmann, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters at Cornell University and 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

With delightful verve and zest, Roston explores the awesomely cornucopian roles of carbon, ranging from cosmic to cellular, from climate to cancer. He also makes a compelling case that human destiny and carbon are now inextricably coupled.--Dudley Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

If you thought oxygen was important, wait till you read this brilliantly researched tale of carbon, the element that makes possible diamonds, the 'lead' in your pencil, even 'you'-- and the element that is likely to occupy many headlines in the years ahead because we can't live without it and we may not be able to live with it.--Norm Augustine, former chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and chairman of the study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm

Carbon, the citizen king of elements, governs who we are and what life is--but the king is going mad Citizens, revolt against the despots, or all may be lost --James E. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

A most accessible and thoroughly enjoyable way to gain real insight into a series of profoundly important subjects including, notably, the hellish risks we now face with climate change. I liked this book and plan to read it again.--James Gustave Speth, dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and author of The Bridge at the Edge of the Worl

"Synopsis" by ,
The story of carbonthe building block of life that, ironically, is humanitys great threat.

Carbon has always been the ubiquitous architect of life: Indeed, all living things need it to stay alive, and carbon cycles through organisms, ground, water, and atmosphere in a kind of global respiration system that helps keep Earth in balance. Yet, since the start of the industrial era, carbon dioxide emissions have sped up the carbon cycle, and chlorofluorocarbons are destroying the ozone layer and warming the planet. In The Carbon Age, science writer Eric Roston evokes this essential element, illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization, and chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used carbon over centuries. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston charts how we reached the brink of catastrophe, making us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has on our lives.

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