The Change in the Weather: People, Weather, and the Science of Climate

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9780385320078: The Change in the Weather: People, Weather, and the Science of Climate

Updated with a new afterword, including information on the warmest winter of the century.

Is something going on with the weather?

A record-setting heat wave that just won't release its blistering grip...balmy winter weeks followed by a sudden crippling snowstorm...torrential rainfalls deluging areas untouched by flood for decades....And coast-to-coast, an endless parade of dramatically televised weather disasters -- each seemingly more extreme than the last.

Examining today's headline-making questions through the authoritative lens of science and history, New York Times science reporter William K. Stevens offers this definitive look at the science of climatic change. He introduces us to the international community of scientists whose newfound consensus -- the earth is indeed getting warmer, and human activity is at least partially at fault -- remains a topic of fierce debate.

How did we get here? How much worse will it get? How dramatically will it change life as we know it, and how quickly? The answers and their implications could not be more profound. And Stevens helps us understand both the science and politics we'll need to know in the coming years, offering an informed speculative glimpse at what may be in store for the end of our new century.

An armchair scientist's guide to the science of climate -- past, present, and future -- The Change in the Weather is an eye-opening and authoritative exploration of today's world and tomorrow's uncertainty.

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Review:

In the summer of 1995, Chicagoans endured weather of extremes they had never seen: daytime temperatures that, adjusted for humidity, exceeded 125 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures that did not fall below 90. In four days, 583 people died of heat exhaustion and related causes. It was by far Chicago's greatest mass disaster, and one for which the city was utterly unprepared.

William Stevens, a science reporter for The New York Times, opens his vivid--and sometimes frightening--book The Change in the Weather with a look at the Chicago disaster, moving on to consider it and other calamities in the context of millions of years of climatic change. In the last several decades, violent storms, long considered to be aberrations of nature, have come to seem almost the norm. The jury is still out, but much evidence suggests that the so-called greenhouse effect is fueling these ever-more-powerful storms. With global warming come hotter average temperatures; hotter temperatures mean increased water vapor, the stuff from which storms are made; more storms mean more flooding; more flooding means more soil erosion and the destruction of the world's estuaries and coastlines; and so on. Stevens carefully describes some of the scientific debates on global warming and ever-nastier weather, and on what, if anything, might be done to reverse or slow these apparent trends.

Lacing his narrative with interviews with leading climatologists, Stevens offers an engrossing scientific detective story--one that threatens to become a horror story in the very near future. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

William K. Stevens is a science reporter for The New York Times. The author of Miracle Under the Oaks: The Revival of Nature in America, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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