Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Check It Out

Call Number: New Book Area QC903 .P55 2011
by Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey
Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011

Global Climate Change: A Primer by Orrin Pilkey and Keith Pilkey (2011) is a new book in our library collection. The book discusses the reason behind climate change: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and methane. Humans (and cows) are mostly responsible for the production of these gasses. It also discusses the consequences of a warming Earth.

Once CO2 gets into the atmosphere it stays up there for a thousand years. CO2 and other gasses cause the atmosphere to act like a greenhouse, trapping heat and causing temperature to rise. The more CO2, the greater the greenhouse effect. An important number to know is the CO2 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere -- that is a measure of how much CO2 is in the atmosphere. During the last Ice Age it was around 180, before the Industrial Revolution (1760) it was 280, in 1958 it was 315, in 2011 is was 390, and in March 2015 it is 401. There is debate about about how high that number can go before there is irreversible climate change (some say the number was 350, 400, or is 550).

There are scientists who think we have passed the tipping point and can no longer prevent the ice in Greeland and West Antarctica from melting -- it is just a matter of how long it will take. If Greenland's ice melts into the ocean, global sea level will rise by 20 feet. If West Antarctica's ice shelf melts, global sea level will rise by 15 feel. If East Antarctica's ice shelf melts, global sea level will rise by a whopping 180 feet. If all the glaciers on Earth melt into the ocean, seal level will go up by 2 feet but it will cause a negative effect on the world water supply.

The authors discuss the issue of climate change deniers who do not believe what 97% of all climate scientists have concluded: the Earth is warming, humans are responsible, the warming will cause the melting of ice shelves (on land), and sea levels will rise. The disagreement among climate scientist is over how well the computer models are working (e.g. how fast will things happen), but they agree about the basic facts. Scientists funded by the petroleum industry use statistics to cast doubt on anything about climate change they can.

There will be many more negative impacts than sea level change. There is the issue that half of the world will lose their homes. One current prediction is that sea level will go up by three feet by the of the century, others predict it will be much more than that. As an example, Bangladesh is expecting it will have to relocate 18 million people because the country will lose 17% of their land by 2050.

Review by John Stanton, SWC Librarian

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