"The climate doctors have been consulted; the lab reports have come back. Now it’s time to pull together the Big Picture and discuss treatment options."

Seattle's Lake Union view of Mt. Rainier

brief bio
The Bookshelf
2007-07-30 10:45

William H. Calvin
It's an image (spam precaution), just retype

 University of Washington

The Earth’s wide swings in climate during the ice ages were greatly exaggerated by feedback. So too is our present global fever: it’s those feedback loops that make a mountain out of a molehill. We’d better understand them thoroughly.Global Fever
How to Treat Climate Change

William H. Calvin 
(The University of Chicago Press, February 2008)

ISBN 0226092046                   US$22.50 cloth


  1.      The Big Picture

  2.      We’re Not in Kansas Anymore 

  3.      Will This Overheated Frog Move? ...an ice-like form called a methane hydrate, often buried under the ocean floor or slope. It sometimes comes unstuck and pops up to the surface. Sailors will fish out a piece and amuse themselves by setting it afire.

  4.      “Pop!” Goes the Climate

  5.      Drought’s Slippery Slope

  6.      Why Deserts Expand   

  7.      From Creeps to Leaps   

  8.      What Makes a Cycle Vicious?

  9.      That Pale Blue Sky  

10.      Slip Locally, Crash Globally 

 11.     Come Hell and High Water    

12.      Methane is the Double Threat   

13.      Sudden Shifts in Climate    

14.      A Sea of CO2 The gray line is simply my cocktail-napkin sketch of what is needed to reverse the growth in emissions by 2020 and getting into net removal of CO2 by 2040.

15.      The Extended Forecast    

16.      Doing Things Differently    

17.      Cleaning Up Our Act

18.      The Climate Optimist    

19.      Turning Around by 2020      

20.     Arming for a Great War  

 21.     Get It Right on the First Try     


Interviews and such:


Summary of Chapter 19: Turning Around by 2020


Read Widely

Five books set the stage effectively.

  • Jared Diamond, Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. Viking, 2005.

  • Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth. Rodale Press, 2006.  Closely follows the world-famous film that won an Oscar.

  • Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change: The Symptoms. The Science. The Solutions. 2006. It’s one of the best of the reader-friendly books that could also be used for a climate course.

  • Mark Lynas, Six Degrees. Fourth Estate HarperCollins, 2007. His chapter on the consequences of a one degree fever is sobering enough, but then he works his way through the consequences of higher ones; the book’s title refers to the sixth such chapter. A six degree fever is what’s forecast for a business-as-usual scenario. His book is very well done and a remarkable achievement for a nonscientist. It shows that with a first-class honours degree in history and politics, you can read and understand much of climate science.

  • Joseph J. Romm, Hell and High Water (William Morrow, 2007). An excellent book of climate science, science policy, and informed advocacy. The author is a physicist and oceanographer by training, formerly Acting Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy in the Clinton administration. His take on the climate science and the energy options is especially valuable because of that background. He also writes well (that his father was a journalist might have something to do with it).

  • Then consider reading these books:

  • Brian Fagan, The Long Summer: how climate changed civilization, Basic Books, 2004.

  • Tim Flannery, The weather makers. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.

  • Ross Gelbspan, Boiling point. Basic Books, 2004.

  • Elizabeth Kolbert, Field notes from a catastrophe. Bloomsbury, 2006.

  • Eugene Linden, The Winds of Change. Simon & Schuster, 2006.

  • James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia. Penguin, 2006.

  • Mark Lynas, High Tide. Picador, 2004.

  • George Monbiot, Heat: how to stop the planet burning. Penguin/Allen Lane, UK, 2006.

  • Fred Pearce, The Last Generation: how nature will take her revenge for climate change. Eden Project Books, UK, 2006.

  • A. Barrie Pittock, Climate change: turning up the heat. CSIRO, Australia, 2005.

  • On the web, try

  • RealClimate.org, done by real climate scientists,

  • Society for Environmental Journalism at www.sej.org/resource/index18.htm.

  • Professor Stephen Schneider’s climate website, stephenschneider.stanford.edu

  • American Institute of Physics, www.aip.org/history/climate/links.htm

  • Pew Center on Climate Change, www.PewClimate.org

  • Climate Institute at Climate.org,

  • ClimatePrediction.net,

  • Union of Concerned Scientists at ClimateChoices.org.

  • Rocky Mountain Institute at www.rmi.org.

  • World Resources Institute, at wri.org. Navigating Numbers is excellent.

  • BBC’s updated climate pages at www.bbc.co.uk/sn/hottopics­/climatechange/

  • New York Times at topics.nytimes.com/top/news­/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?8qa.

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science at http://www.aaas.org/climate/

  •  Copyright 2007 by William H. Calvin

    To browse one of my books, click on a cover.

    Almost Us, 2005

    A Brief History of the Mind, 2004
    A Brief History of the Mind, 2004

    A Brain for All Seasons, 2002
    A Brain for All Seasons

    Lingua ex Machina:  Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Brain (Calvin & Bickerton, 2000)
    Lingua ex Machina

    The Cerebral Code:  Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind (1996)
    The Cerebral Code

    How Brains Think:  Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now (1996)
    How Brains Think

    Conversations with Neil's Brain:  The Neural Nature of Thought and Language (Calvin & Ojemann, 1994)
    Conversations with
    Neil's Brain

    The River That Flows Uphill
    The River That
    Flows Uphill


    The Throwing Madonna:  Essays on the Brain
    The Throwing Madonna

    And more at WilliamCalvin.com

    Climate Videos

    (Flash player needed)

    2007 AAAS video on the urgency of responding to climate change     David Attenborough and Hadley Centre's Peter Cox take a walk through global warming. 
    2006 ABC News on Climate Change

    (part 1)

     ABC News (part 2)
    link to East Greenland glacier speedup     UK climate change info video 

    A sea-level rise of 6 m (20 ft) is the height of a two-story building. The last time this happened, it was provoked by a global warming of only three degrees Fahrenheit. Untreated, that much fever is expected by 2050, though no one knows how quickly the ice sheet collapses will lead or lag the warming. 




    Click to open PDF file, print on 8.5x11" paper.

    Laser color printers are preferable since the poster might get wet. Heavy, stiff papers might be best.

    If you are asked what it represents, try this: “The last time that the earth warmed up to 3 degrees (1.7C) above the present average temperature, Greenland and Antarctica melted enough to raise sea level by 20 feet. We want to show people how many valuable places will be underwater.”

    If they want details: “We warmed up out of the last ice age starting at about 15,000 years ago. The previous time that happened was 130,000 years ago (that warm period lasted about 13,000 years). That warmup continued past our current average temperature to become three degrees warmer. That melted off more than half of Greenland and some of Antarctica. That was enough to raise sea level 20 feet (6 m) higher than at present. Back then, it wasn’t because of greenhouse warming but because the earth’s axis was tilted somewhat further, making Greenland’s summers hotter. Today we’re doing it with the greenhouse blanket of pollution from burning coal, oil, and natural gas.”


    While a handheld GPS unit will do, you can plot out a campaign using Google Earth installed on your computer. Make sure it is giving a readout of the altitude where the cursor is (lower left, zoom in if it is missing). Then explore to find the 20 ft (6 m) above sea level (ASL) contour.



    This is the metric version, sized for A4 paper.