Synopses & Reviews
More than 200 million years ago, a cataclysmic event known as the Permian extinction destroyed more than 90 percent of all species and nearly 97 percent of all living things. Its origins have long been a puzzle for paleontologists. During the 1990s and the early part of this century, a great battle was fought between those who thought that death had come from above and those who thought something more complicated was at work.
Paleontologist Peter. D. Ward, fresh from helping prove that an asteroid had killed the dinosaurs, turned to the Permian problem, and he has come to a stunning conclusion. In his investigations of the fates of several groups of mollusks during that extinction and others, he discovered that the near-total devastation at the end of the Permian period was caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide leading to climate change. But it's not the heat (nor the humidity) that's directly responsible for the extinctions, and the story of the discovery of what is responsible makes for a fascinating, globe-spanning adventure.
In Under a Green Sky, Ward explains how the Permian extinction as well as four others happened, and describes the freakish oceans belching poisonous gas and sky slightly green and always hazy that would have attended them. Those ancient upheavals demonstrate that the threat of climate change cannot be ignored, lest the world's life today ourselves included face the same dire fate that has overwhelmed our planet several times before.
"Disarmingly engaging....Ward asserts that humankind has flourished during a remarkable period of climatic stability and notes how tragic it will be if our carbon habit brings this boon to a catastrophic end. An important addition to the necessary literature of global warming." Booklist
"Although the technical level of the content may be beyond high school students, this excellent book is highly recommended." Library Journal
"Perhaps if people read Under a Green Sky
and tell their friends about it, we might have a chance. Many people are apathetic about global warming because the press concentrates on superficial metrics like mean temperature and sea levels rising a few feet. So we grow oranges in Alaska, who cares? Peter Ward offers a reason why we should all care, and right now." Doug Brown, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
According to paleontologist Ward, all but one of the major extinction events in history have been brought on by climate change the same global warming that occurs today. The author argues that events in the past can give valuable information about the future of our planet.
About the Author
Dr. Peter D. Ward is a professor of biology and earth and space sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also serves as an astrobiologist with NASA. Ward is the author of more than a dozen books, including the highly acclaimed Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe with Donald Brownlee and Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere.