New book: The Whole Story of Climate: What Science Reveals About the Nature of Endless Change, by E. Kirsten Peters ’84 (Prometheus Books)
The author: A geologist, Peters has authored three other books on geology. And she writes the “Rock Doc” column, syndicated essays on science for newspapers that can be found at www.rockdoc.wsu.edu. Peters taught geology and interdisciplinary science at Washington State University and is currently the director of major grant development for its College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
The book: To fully understand climate change, Peters argues, the public and policymakers should explore not only the work of climate scientists but also that of geologists. Drawing on the work of geology, Peters explains how the Earth’s climate naturally has changed over time. Geologists, she writes, “don’t generally traffic in computer models so much as direct physical evidence left in the muck and rocks of our planet.” Even if human beings never had produced greenhouse gases, she writes, “climate today would still be changing.” She also makes a plea to extinguish unwanted coal fires in mining districts, which would “eliminate a significant amount of carbon-dioxide production.”
Opening lines: “Geological evidence plainly teaches that Earth’s climate has changed through staggering extremes of balmy warmth to bitter cold. And that’s not just a description of ancient history, when dinosaurs roamed the world. Instead, it’s the clear record of climate change during recent times, when fully modern Homo sapiens left Africa, spread around the world, and ultimately founded our varied cultures and civilizations.”
Review: “Natural history reveals that rapid shifts from hotter to cooler climes can occur over mere decades, and, if not for recent carbon pollution, an ice age might be just around the corner. Along with Peters’ lucidly written overview of geological science, unsettling surprises such as these will keep readers engaged as they are educated,” wrote Booklist.