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Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth [Format Kindle]

Curt Stager

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Présentation de l'éditeur

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

A bold, far-reaching look at how our actions will decide the planet's future for millennia to come.

Imagine a planet where North American and Eurasian navies are squaring off over shipping lanes through an acidified, ice-free Arctic. Centuries later, their northern descendants retreat southward as the recovering sea freezes over again. And later still, future nations plan how to avert an approaching Ice Age... by burning what remains of our fossil fuels.

These are just a few of the events that are likely to befall Earth and human civilization in the next 100,000 years. And it will be the choices we make in this century that will affect that future more than those of any previous generation. We are living at the dawn of the Age of Humans; the only question is how long that age will last.

Few of us have yet asked, "What happens after global warming?" Drawing upon the latest, groundbreaking works of a handful of climate visionaries, Deep Future helps us look beyond 2100 a.d. to the next hundred millennia of life on Earth.


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1262 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 304 pages
  • Editeur : Thomas Dunne Books; Édition : First Edition (15 mars 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004N625KA
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  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°516.386 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  48 commentaires
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An important perspective on global climate change 6 mars 2011
Par ARH - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Curt Stager, a paleoecologist (someone who uses the geologic and fossil records to study the ecology past periods of earth's history), has assembled a book well worth reading if you are interested in or concerned about global climate change. Probably the most imporant thing this book adds to the body of scientific literature that addresses issues of climate change is that of "deep time". "Deep time" refers to expansive lengths of time needed to envision both earth's history and its future. These are time frames most people do not deal with or consider on a regular basis, and so have a difficult time comprehending, but with which geologists like Stager use all the time.

I have been studying and teaching about a wide array of environmental issues for nearly 20 years, and this book provided me with a truly new perspective that I never considered before: the deep future of the planet - a climate future that may be predictable (albeit in broad strokes) for the next 100,000 years or so. Most climate predication models extend only through about 2100, not 102,100! Stager uses known, predictable varibles such as the Milankovitch cycles (variations in the shape of earth's orbit and wobble on its axis) together with known greenhouse-earth episodes in earth's history to predict what might happen to the planet in the future if we experience a moderate episode of carbon-loading in the atmosphere of 1000 giga-tons or so versus an extreme episode of loading of 5000 giga-tons of carbon. Both scenarios are possibilities, depending on when we switch from fossil fuel dependence...i.e., we can switch soon (the 1000 Gt version) or after we run out of fossil fuels and then switch (the 5000 Gt version).

Regardless of whether we stop after 1000 Gt or 5000 gt, Stager predicts that we have already emitted enough additional carbon into the atmosphere to cancel the next major glaciation period that would have started around 50,000 years from now. He also predicts that though we will certainly see sea levels rise, an ice-free Arctic, shifts in growing regions and precipitation patterns, these things will not be the end of mankind. These things will happen gradually, with time enough for humans and other species (except perhaps for tundra or polar species) to adapt.

Stager interestingly mentioned that many climatologists believe that he is not alarmist enough, while climate change naysayers say he is alarmist. This, Stager says, is an indicator that he is probably somewhere near the truth. He is neither a climate change extremist or appologist, but the message he has to share is interesting and pertinent.

One of the most important messages he shares has to do with the degree of confidence we can have in scientific work and conclusions. In the Epilogue Stager states that, "In a media-saturated world where public opinions are easily swayed by team loyalty, marketing strategies, and short-term self-interest, science stands apart as a rare source of relatively impartial, self-correcting information. The strict rules of scientific investigation favor well-supported ideas over weak ones, and the international peer-review system is a firewall of checks and balances that provides an additional line of defense against sloppy of slanted thinking."

So why don't I give this book 5 stars...well, for one thing, I think Stager's comments on carbon-14 dating need to be better clarified. For another thing, his view of what it means to be a native versus an introduced species is too heavily influenced by his deep-time persepctive and lacks a shorter-term perspective needed to describe ongoing competition, displacement, etc. He also seemed to generalize too much about what may happen in the temperate regions of the planet by focusing on what he thinks is or is not happening in the Adirondack Mountains.

Stager nevertheless provides a level-headed view of our possible possible future that is well worth a look.

4 solid stars!
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The FUTURE is lookin' HOT! HOT! HOT! 21 avril 2011
Par W. T. Hoffman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Curt Stager's new book, based on decades of researching ice and soil cores from around the globe, provides one of the most balanced, well documented, perspicuous accounts of the global effects of the warming trend, that I've ever encountered. Before you pass this research over as liberal agenda, it's worth reading for not only his predictions about the changes we face, but what will be the LONG TERM changes the Earth faces. Of course, that's why the subtitle "The Next 100,000 years of Life on Earth", tho after a careful reading, its really the next half million years he's predicting. It might help to have a little geology under your belt reading this, idealy historical geology or meterology, tho its not essencial. I only say this, because the book is crammed with so much scientific insight and processed data, along with computer simulations about the CO2 levels now and in the past, and where that will leave us globally over the next few millenia. However, Stager writes with a well grounded, non technical language for much of the book. So when he breezes over the celestrial mechanics which governed the LONG TERM warming and cooling cycles earth has experienced in the past, he doesnt even use the term "Precession" to discribe the 23000 year cycle where the pole traces a circle which points at the North Star now. He calls precession "Wobble", since that's what the earth does. Eccentricity, another one of earth's movements, moves the earth's solar orbit from circular to more eliptical, which Stager explains means "egg-like". These celestrial changes in orbit (along with Obliquity) are often what the right wing global warming bashers, blame our current warming trend upon. However, earth and ice cores from around the world, which reveal CO2 levels in the air, prove the ONLY explanation for our current global warming trend is the burning of fossil fuels. Currently, we are faced with TWO SCENARIOS for the earth's next 100,000 years. Either we stop polluting now, and are left with a moderate rise of carbon levels capping at 550-600 ppm (current levels are 387 ppm CO2), then we can expect melting over the next several centuries ending with a rise in sea levels of 23 feet. The author makes clear, that the Greenland ice mass, or the West Antartic ice shelf wont melt in a matter of years or decades, causing seaside megametropolises to be flooded like a tsunami hit them. In an attempt to appear non partisan, or simply acting darkly sarcastic, Stager claims that the effects of a full blown greenhouse effect will spare our future descendants the horrors of another ice age in 50,000 years. Also, he tries to seem like a non-alarmist by reminding us that, after the effects of all the burnt fossil fuels have been reabsorbed into the earth, via acidification of the oceans, or binding in vegetation, that the earth will return to its present condistion in anywhere from 100,000 years for the moderate emission levels, to a half million years if the oceans rise 240 feet. In addition, many species of plants and animals shall have gone extinct, most human habitations anywhere NEAR the sea will need to be moved, since building dikes will only help at first. He reiterates often that since present models predict oceans rising only 3 feet each century, there's no need to be alarmed of immediate flooding. Also, he talks about the benefits of farming in the far north, where there is presently tundra. Again, he gleefully overlooks that tundra is mostly glacier scraped bedrock, and lots of stagnant ponds and lakes, whereas we will be losing huge areas of land to desertification thruout the temperate latitudes, since warming and drying occur together.

So much information is covered in the book, I'm at a loss to bring you even the highlights in such a way, that you can appreciate the level of specificity he covers. Stagers belongs to the UNIVERSITY OF MAINE'S CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE, which houses endless numbers of ice and earth cores, and 53 colleages whom he often calls up for more exacting information outside his own field, like the chapter he devotes to the future of the Polar Bear, and the food cycle that sustains that animal, or when he argues that it will take more than lots of fresh water to shut down the gulf stream, since it depends on MOC theory, ie, mostly tides and winds cause the conveyer to move. Another area he examines in great detail, which I've never seen addressed in books on Global warming, is the effects of an increasingly acidic ocean, as the CO2 disolves into the seawater, producing acidity so severe that shellfish, corals, and other carbonate exoskeleton life forms of even microscopic size, will simply have their exoskeletons dissolve in the overly acidic oceans. What that might do to the food chain is unknown, naturally. Forever taking the LONG VIEW, as the title suggests, Stager attempts to predict when sea ice might once again reform over the Artic ocean. (since the Artic ocean will be almost ice free, in the very near future, during the summer.) However, in 2-5000 years, given a moderate increase in CO2 levels, ice might start to reform during the winter. OR, the ice might reform in 50-100,000 years. And, if we face the effects of a large release of CO2 emissions, then ice might not reform on the artic for 500,000 years. That tells me that some of these predictions are based on computer models with too many variables. No computer model can refer to previous data sets with this level of CO2, since in no period of earths history were the CO2 levels this high before.

This research should be studied by anyone who has a deep interest in the way the Anthropecene age is transforming the earth's climate, and ultimately, what we can expect in the future. These are warnings that all humanity would be wise to take seriously. These are facts that should be examined by college classes on global climate change, and by politicians who meet for international symposiums on what is coming to the coasts, and how fast. Most people will appreciate his lack of any alarmist rhetoric, since the ocean levels will rise slowly enough, that Stager believes that in the future, people will simply move further inland, and further north, incrementally and smoothly the way birch trees will move slowly north, til they cover the Canadian tundra as far north as the upper Hudson Bay, and Baffin island. Of course, that's the weak link in his reasoning, from my viewpoint. The fact is, we have NO IDEA what to expect with humanity's reaction to all this, except starvation, wars over water rights, mass migrations, and bizarre, severe weather changing where it's reasonable to live. WHen he talks about the far future in human social terms, I found little science, and much unfounded speculation. However, the far future of earth's return to normal CO2 levels, do appear scientific, since the information is based upon hard scientific facts gathered from ice cores and ancient lake and ocean beds. In addition, I have to remark about the lack of footnoting. Actually, the author often gathered his information from colleages over telephone conversations. Perhaps more graphs, and other hard data from the U of ME. Climate Change Institute might have been helpful. (I found data on their website, that helped me understand some of Stager's explanations, including graphs showing the direct correspondance between CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and the ice mass on land.) What might be the most insightful information in the book is when the EEMIAN INTERGLACIAL PERIOD is examined. At that time, the earth had NO ICE anywhere, and the oceans were at their peak depth. (240 feet deeper than today.) So long before the relatively recent glaciation periods on earth started about 900,000 years ago, the earth was as warm as our carbon based emissions will make it once more, should we not cap our emissions right now. BUT WHY? Orbital radiation changes caused by the slow but constant changes in the celestrial mechanics of earth's relationship to the sun, cant account for this. So much is still unknown. This information, tho accurant, amounts to baby steps in this new science of analysing deep cores of earth and ice, for clues into the previous world climate. This doesnt negate anything, but just warns us that no matter what we might PREDICT for the next 100,000 years as a result of fossil fuel burning, the fact remains that we CANT know too much, cos there are so many variables still in play, including what, if any, limits humanity might impose and ENFORCE on CO2 emissions in the immediate future. A book that leaves you asking hard questions, often has more to say than a book insisting on acceptable answers, that might be based on opinions or wishful thinking by those very companies that have invested literally trillions of dollars in the marketing, and drilling, of oil, no matter how horrible the effects of fracking shale might be, or the spills caused by deep sea drilling.

SO, who should read this book? I would recommend it to people with a more educated bent, and who wish to enquire what the future holds. Policy makers should take this work seriously, as should anyone involved in international politics. Seriously, tho, the language isnt the technical jargon of geological research papers, but rather, the book is definately written to be read by nearly ANYONE who desires clearer worldview about how our changing climate around the world will immediately effect the socio-economics of countries with large seacoasts, or lots of artic land. Realizing that the earth WILL recover in anywhere from 100,000 to a half million years, doesnt OK the present destruction of the planet so our fossil fuel technology can squeeze the last drops of oil out of a world that cant afford to continue burning carbon fuels, or ignore renewable energy. If there is ONE MESSAGE, amongst the huge amount of various effects of long term global warming, I would say its that.....NOTHING is worth exposing humanity to this headache, from which it might not survive.
14 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 I'd rather have an ice age 7 novembre 2011
Par Alice Friedemann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Overall the tone of this book is don't worry, there's a lot we don't know, and based on what we don't know and how clever we are, we'll be fine. He uses two cases throughout the book for best and worst cases.

We've already released 300 gigatons (1 billion metric tons) of carbon pollution.

Stager's definition of the Best case. We release another 700 gigatons of carbon (total 1,000), reach a peak of 550-600 ppm CO2 between 2100 and 2200 AD, and a 2 to 4 degree C rise in temperature. I think Stager is aware of the runaway greenhouse effect, but it wasn't clear to me whether the best case scenario was capable of causing this by releasing the CO2 embedded in permafrost and the methane hydrates. In which case wouldn't the end result be more than 1,000? many scientists think we've already emitted enough carbon to cause the runaway greenhouse (anything over 350 ppm, and we're at 390 ppm now).

Stager's definition of the Worst case. We burn all the coal, oil, and natural gas, releasing another 4,700 gigatons of carbon (total 5,000), the super greenhouse scenario. That takes CO2 to 2000 ppm around 2300 AD. Temperatures peak as late as 3500 AD to between 5 to 9 degrees Celcius. The last time we had this kind of world was 55 million years ago, which may have been caused by as little as 2,000 gigatons of carbon. And again, if the runaway greenhouse takes effect, will that release another 50, 500, 5,000 gigatons of carbon? Again, this is Stager's worst case, other scientists see the potential for a higher 10-12 degrees, etc.

Stager gives global warming a positive spin throughout the book pointing out that we'll save our descendants from having to go through the next ice age, which Stager portrays as much worse than a hothouse world.

I don't get it -- yes, glaciers would wipe out Chicago and other lovely cities, but meanwhile as much land at more temperate latitudes would appear as the ocean fell 400 feet. The continents would be covered in trees, the oceans full of life throughout the world, unlike now, tropical oceans are "deserts". And we could easily outrun the glaciers just as Stager says we can outrun the rising oceans of the future.

Stager's optimistic reassurances throughout the book are frustrating, especially given that we're already beyond the worst-case predictions of the 2007 IPCC.

Consider the National Academies of Science "Climate change: Heat, health, and longer horizons" which summarizes several scientific papers that predict far worse consequences than you'll see in this book, such as:

Because of limits to human tolerance of heat, much of Earth's surface may not be habitable by 2300. We can't rely on air conditioning in an overheated world because we won't have the energy to do that. This is far more serious issue than sea-level rise or a slowdown in the economy.
Current assessments are underestimating the seriousness of climate change. The further the future outlook, the worse it gets - catastrophic even -- because conditions will exist that humans have never experienced. Temperatures could rise as much as 10-12 °C and it's not likely that we could adapt to even a 4-6 °C rise in temperature (yet Stager on page 186 says that "high temperatures are not necessarily intolerable").

On page 10 and other pages, Stager reveals he's yet another climatologist who thinks that we can switch to renewable energy. Read Hayden's "Solar Fraud" or Trainer's "Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society" for why that can't happen (energyskeptic has a good reading list for more books to read on that and other topics).

Stager does emphasize that people aren't paying enough attention to the acidification of the ocean and the destruction of life that will take place there.

Stager says that sea level rise isn't as big a catastrophe as people expect (it will rise 230 feet ultimately) because people will have time to move higher up, it won't happen overnight. He doesn't see a scenario where sea level could rise quickly.

But he neglects to add that there will be a staggering loss of life from this as we no longer have fossil fuels to move infrastructure uphill, (little things like ports, roads, nuclear power plants, etc.), and much of the best agricultural land will be underwater.

Pages 19 to 21 describe why we aren't likely to have cooling if the conveyor belt stops

Pages 21-26 have a good description of the ice age cycles and why we're likely to skip the next ice age from the climate change we've unleashed. In the Best Case, the next ice age will be 130,000 years from now, the worst case "burn, baby burn" keeps the next ice away for at least 500,000 years. Stager hates ice ages so much that he points out that if we burn through all our coal, our descendants won't have any coal left to burn to prevent an ice age!

Page 28: again he says we can have a relatively moderate scenario if we quickly replace fossil fuels with other energy sources. Systems ecologists and climate scientists - please get together to work out if we have enough coal and oil left to burn to create a worst case scenario or runaway greenhouse!

Pages 32 & 33: This is interesting - we're unleashing green house gases that were buried, trapped, from ancient fossil oil, coal, and natural gas - how long will it take for all this carbon to get sequestered again? The answer is that a large fraction could stick around for hundreds of thousands of years.

Pages 42 and 43 discuss our potential extinction -most of his students and colleagues believe we'll be extinct by 100,000 AD. Stager believes that if everyone thought that way, no one would care about future generations and blow what was left right now. He also thinks this is a cop-out from responsibility to make lifestyle decisions. I totally disagree. I think that if people realized the human species could die off because of our actions it could trigger some people to fight even harder to change the situation. But since we're animals, have a capitalist system, and can't live without fossil fuels, we'll continue to burn them whether it's a good idea or not.

I think we ought to be talking about extinction, because even if we can't do anything, we're sapient creatures, this is what's happening right now, and though it's awful, the denial of ecological reality is what got us here in the first place. Let's look at the situation, perhaps there are ways we can help future generations if they do manage to survive.

Stager then sets up a bunch of extinction straw dogs that are not the real issues to worry about (i.e. asteroids, industrial toxins, disease, etc). But when you add them all up, they are worrisome - it's biodiversity loss (already considered the 6th major extinction) PLUS the combined loss of topsoil, fresh water, fisheries, forests, etc PLUS the destruction of the stratosphere that protects us from harmful radiation (via chemicals, nuclear war, nitrogen fertilizers) PLUS greenhouse warming and associated floods, droughts, and other crazy weather that prevents successful crops from being grown, PLUS acidified oceans, PLUS the "9 boundaries" and so on.

On page 43 he states that the Toba super volcano that exploded in Sumatra 75,000 years ago didn't kill everybody as proof we can survive anything. But we were down to only 2,000 and 10,000 people, what scientists call a bottleneck that we were lucky to make it through, and our ancestors were experts at survival on a bounteous, healthy planet. All of the above PLUS a super volcano - can 2,000 of us survive? One theory about why just a few people were able to do so is because they lived on the seashore and had a lot of seafood. Our acid oceans won't provide easily gotten oysters, clams, crabs, lobsters, etc to future people -- that's the sort of food that will be the first to go as acidification dissolves creatures with shells. To attribute extinction to just one thing is a false argument. It's not just one thing, it's many things, too many things at the same time. And if we send the oceans into a Canfield state (see Ward's "Under a Green Sky"), then the atmosphere becomes potentially toxic - we can't possible evolve to tolerate a low oxygen deadly hydrogen sulfide gas atmosphere.

Stager is right to be concerned about exaggeration, has several good chapters on how we know what we know and why some measurements can't be totally trusted, wants to maintain the credibility of scientists by having them be a rare source of impartial, self-correcting information. This is fine, but it's also why he doesn't like "aggressive activist stances among prominent scientists".

I have an opposite point of view: that scientists aren't speaking out enough. What about the precautionary principle?

The problem with science is that news about a new discovery is printed only ONCE in the media, then it's old news, and people forget it. This would be okay if people read science non-fiction books, but they don't (except in Iceland -- go Iceland!).

There's nothing we can do to stop what's coming except hope the oil, coal, and natural gas run out as soon as possible so that our descendants may live, so let's start considering now how we can preserve knowledge and make the lives of future humans easier.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A great read. 16 mars 2011
Par HLQ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Not being a scientist I fully appreciated the author's consideration for a general audience wanting to understand climate change in the past, present and future. This is a great read.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A new perspective about an old argument 16 mars 2011
Par Wordpainter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Trying to explain scientific concepts in a way that is engaging and illuminating can be a tall order but I think that Dr. Stager does a great job of making the information enjoyable and accessible in Deep Future. As a paleoecologist who studies ice cores, he is the ultimate big-picture thinker and it was mind-expanding to think in terms of millenniums rather than generations. I was blown away by the idea that we have prevented the next Ice Age -- I didn't even realize the Earth still had patterns of Ice Ages.

Stager's explanation of the difference between weather and climate was also fascinating. While some might try to put him strictly on one side or the other in the global warming debate, he makes an excellent point that it can only be understood by taking the long view.

For fresh insight and a well-written perspective, I highly recommend Deep Future.
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