‘Our Future Earth’ will make more sense from its sub-title ‘How The Planet Will Change In the Next 100,000 Years’. Considering how in Science Fiction we deal with such time periods as standard, I suspect outsiders think this is beyond their time frame to worry about. Author Curt Stager is a paleoecologist. That is, he studies the past by studying ice core samples which encapsulate centuries of informaton. As he explains, knowing the past of Earth’s climate and its effects, can allow predictions as to the fall of current Earth by climate change, not helped by the human contribution to it.
I should point out that Stager rarely goes as far as100,000 years as the next two centuries are depressing enough as he describes the world that is slowly falling apart at the seams and likely to change our ecology forever. Some things are natural, a lot of it is our own abuse of our planet’s ecology.
For many people, the effects of climate change is something they feel they can leave to another generation to worry about. As Stager points out, the effects are happening already. A lot of us here already know that. The radical weather changes is an effect of this. He also points out that climate changes would happen anyway only we’re not helping matters. It’s convincing the rest of the population which is biggest problem.
His description of how re-glaciation will wipe out countries and any with low ground makes for frightening reading. You certainly wouldn’t want to live in Canada, mostly because it wouldn’t be there anymore. Nor would parts of America, as it reaches down as far as New York and beyond. Large parts of the UK would go as well, including Ireland and much of our coast. The ice caps might be melting but the ice will refreeze elsewhere but first of all as the like of the poles and Greenland’s ice melts, the sea level rise will get there first. Speaking of Greenland, I learnt from this book that it got its name as an enticement by Erik the Red to get his Vikings to colonise there, despite the fact that it is actually a terrible choice with poor arable land. With the rise in ocean levels, much of Greenland will also vanish.
The rise in carbon dioxide in the air affects the concentration in sea water of carbonic acid which will effectively kill off most fishing stock, a major contribution to many of your diets, which is already happening. As Stager points out that would be a situation which we might never recover from.
If you thought the danger to coral reefs was only in tropical climes, Stager points out that coral reefs also exist in many cold water oceans and seas and is a habitat for many marine animals in the food chain and we depend on ourselves. If they die out then the fish we eat may die off faster than the effects of carbonic acid. This is not a good thing. Think of that the next time you’re tucking into an unusual fish as your regular fish choice has become an endangered species.
Stager compares some weather changes to our genre but likely to be far worse. It’s interesting how he describes the area of damage caused by a meteorite crash and it would need a colossal-sized one to wipe out all life on Earth.
It’s interesting that Stager points out that he’s kept a lot of data on the very dated very large floppy disks and some on its latter smaller counter-parts, even if he can no longer read it any more. From my pov, the machines and drives that do so still exist, even as working museum pieces, and he seriously ought to consider tracking them down for transfer to a new format for access now than later.
This book is an absorbing read, helped a lot by not so much having small print but no footnotes to keeping turning to. There is, however a massive twenty-seven page reference section but as it’s divided into chapters, it does make it easier to locate particular areas of information if you want to look up something.
I share Stager’s thoughts that we aren’t doing enough to save our planet and it did occur to me that calling the problem ‘global warming’ makes it look too…er…tepid. I mean, if something is warm, we don’t think we’ll burn our fingers. Granted we can hardly call it ‘global burning’ as that is far too dramatic but something like ‘climate disaster’ or ‘the Earth’s fatal Hell story’ might keep the problem more in the media and population’s mind.
If you are concerned about our planet’s climate change and want to know more about it, then this book will give you a lot of details as to what is going on. I wish there had been at least a chapter to guide readers as to personal and group actions. However, I suspect upon reading this, you will consider that anyway. This book is already in its second printing. Treat reading it as a necessity this year.
(pub: Duckworth Overlook. 284 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 10.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-71564-382-2)