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Is the Temperature Rising? : The Uncertain Science of Global Warming - S. George Philander

Is the Temperature Rising?

The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

Paperback Published: 1st February 2000
ISBN: 9780691050348
Number Of Pages: 262

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Most of us have heard the dire predictions about global warming. Some experts insist that warming has already started, and they warn of such impending disasters as the sea level rising to flood coastal cities. Others, however, have issued loud counterclaims, assuring us that global warming is a myth based on misleading data. How can we tell who is right, and how we should respond? And why is there no scientific consensus on a matter of such vital importance? George Philander addresses these questions in this book, as he guides the nonscientific reader through new ideas about the remarkable and intricate factors that determine the world's climate.


In simple, nontechnical language, Philander describes how the interplay between familiar yet endlessly fascinating phenomena--winds and clouds, light and air, land and sea--maintains climates that permit a glorious diversity of fauna and flora to flourish on Earth. That interplay also creates such potent weather disrupters as El Nino and La Nina, translates modest fluctuations in sunlight into global climate changes as dramatic as the Ice Age, and determines the Earth's response to the gases we are discharging into the atmosphere, such as those that led to the ozone hole over Antarctica and those that are likely to cause global warming. In his discussion of these matters, Philander emphasizes that our planet is so complex that the scientific results will always have uncertainties. To continue to defer action on environmental problems, on the grounds that more accurate scientific results will soon be available, could lead to a crisis. To make wise decisions, it will help if the public is familiar with the geosciences, which explore the processes that make ours a habitable planet.


The book is an excellent introduction to the basics of the Earth's climate and weather, and will be an important contribution to the debate about climate change and the relationship between scientific knowledge and public affairs.

"S. George Philander ... writes with skill and cool reserve. Is the Temperature Rising? ... is a careful, step-by-step look at confusing data and clarifying science. He is literate, quoting Shelley, Coleridge, and Eliot. And he is reasonably sure we are digging our own grave, though he says so with such understatement that it is easy to overlook the doom and gloom."--William J. Broad, The New York Times Book Review "[The author] guides us through this learning experience with grace, wit, and clarity... Dr. Philander has tried to help us gain ... appreciation [for how significantly human activity is changing atmospheric chemistry] ... and he succeeds."--Robert C. Cowen, Christian Science Monitor "The author explains complex scientific concepts in a precise language and with delightful illustrations... The book is a pleasure to read."--Hans von Storch, Nature "In Is the Temperature Rising?, S. George Philander examines the question historically, meteorologically, chemically and every other way. At the end of the well-written survey, you will know every detail of the subject..."--New Scientist "Ought to be required reading for every eco-preacher."--John Emsley, Times Literary Supplement "A book that can be easily understood by policymakers and scientists, but yet does not sacrifice any detail in background and process is most welcome. Philander may be the first author to write such a comprehensive book ... Indeed, the author deserves immense credit for such a skillful presentation."--Geerat J. Vermeij, The Quarterly Review of Biology

Preface
Between the Idea and the Realityp. 3
Is Our Planet Fragile or Robust?p. 11
Light and Airp. 31
Why the Peak of a Mountain Is Coldp. 55
Capricious Cloudsp. 76
The Climate Tapestryp. 89
Weather, the Music of Our Spherep. 106
The Ocean in Motionp. 125
El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillationp. 143
The Paradox of the Faint Sun but Warm Earthp. 161
Why Summer Is Warmer than Winter: The Cycles of Seasons and of Ice Agesp. 170
The Ozone Hole, a Cautionary Talep. 183
Global Warming, Risky Businessp. 191
Exponential Growth and Decayp. 209
Establishing a Chronologyp. 210
Gaiap. 214
Chaosp. 215
Earthshinep. 217
The Scattering of Lightp. 217
Blackbody Radiationp. 218
Effective Temperatures of the Planetsp. 219
The Greenhouse Effectp. 221
The Scale Height of the Atmospherep. 226
The Adiabatic Lapse Ratep. 228
Measuring Moisture in the Atmospherep. 231
Earth's Energy Budgetp. 232
How Many of Your Molecules Have Been to the Moon?p. 233
Conservation of Angular Momentump. 234
The Coriolis Forcep. 235
Shape of Earthp. 237
Gradient Windsp. 237
Predicting the Weatherp. 240
The Seasonal Thermoclinep. 242
The Perpetual Salt Fountainp. 242
El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillationp. 244
Weatheringp. 246
Properties of the Planetsp. 247
Earth's Sensitivity to Perturbationsp. 248
The Ozone Layerp. 249
Global Warmingp. 250
Glossaryp. 251
Referencesp. 257
Indexp. 259
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691050348
ISBN-10: 0691050341
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 262
Published: 1st February 2000
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 16.51  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.36