Decisively cutting through the hyperbole on both sides of the debate, distinguished NASA climatologist Claire L. Parkinson brings much-needed balance and perspective to the highly contentious issue of climate change. Offering a deeply knowledgeable overview of global change past and present, the author lays out a compelling argument that our understandings and models are inadequate for confident predictions of the intended and unintended consequences of projects now under consideration to modify future climate. She places current climate change in the perspective of the past 4.6 billion years and delves into the bases of our understandings and their limitations. While clarifying some of the most contentious points in the climate debate, the book treats the reader to a fascinating discussion interweaving Earth history, science, the history of science, and human nature.
Claire L. Parkinson is a senior fellow and climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where she has worked for more than 30 years. An award-winning scientist, she is especially well known for her research on polar sea ice and its connections to the broader climate system, which is complemented by her role as Project Scientist for the Aqua satellite mission. She is the author of several books, including Earth from Above: Using Color-Coded Satellite Images to Examine the Global Environment and Our Changing Planet: The View from Space. She lives in the Washington, DC, area.
Part I: The Earth System and Its Ever-Changing Nature Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: 4.6 Billion Years of Global Change Chapter 3: Abrupt Climate Change Part II: The Human Factor Chapter 4: A Short History of Human Impacts Chapter 5: The Future: Why Some People Are So Concerned while Others Aren't Part III: Good Intentions and Geoengineering Chapter 6: Good Intentions Gone Awry Chapter 7: Geoengineering Schemes Chapter 8: The Record on Smaller-Scale Attempted Modifications Part IV: Further Cautionary Considerations Chapter 9: The Possible Fallibility of Even a Strong Consensus Chapter 10: The Unknown Future: Model Limitations Chapter 11: Compounding Social Pressures Part V: Avoiding Paralysis despite Uncertainty Chapter 12: What Are the Alternatives? Chapter 13: Closing Plea