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Global Climate Change : A Primer

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An internationally recognized expert on the geology of barrier islands, Orrin H. Pilkey is one of the rare academics who engages in public advocacy about science-related issues. He has written dozens of books and articles explaining coastal processes to lay readers, and he is a frequent and outspoken interviewee in the mainstream media. Here, the colorful scientist takes on climate change deniers in an outstanding and much-needed primer on the science of global change and its effects. After explaining the greenhouse effect, Pilkey, writing with son Keith, turns to the damage it is causing: sea level rise, ocean acidification, glacier and sea ice melting, changing habitats, desertification, and the threats to animals, humans, coral reefs, marshes, and mangroves. These explanations are accompanied by Mary Edna Fraser's stunning batiks depicting the large-scale arenas in which climate change plays out. The Pilkeys directly confront and rebut arguments typically advanced by global change deniers. Particularly valuable are their discussions of "Climategate," a manufactured scandal that undermined respect for the scientific community, and the denial campaigns by the fossil fuel industry, which they compare to the tactics used by the tobacco companies a generation ago to obfuscate findings on the harm caused by cigarettes.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 152.4 x 187.96 x 7.62mm | 385.55g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 37 color illustrations
  • 0822351099
  • 9780822351092
  • 560,567

Review quote

"The Pilkeys have made the interesting choice to illustrate their book not with the expected facts and figures but with colorful batik prints of important climate sites illustrated by South Carolina artist Mary Edna Fraser... The stunning images are somehow more effective than traditional images would be, as the ancient batik cloth-dying technique and indigenous designs it produces generated for this reader an overriding mood of mourning, loss and regret-as if the disaster has already happened, as if we've already failed to stop it." - Gerry Canavan, Independent Weekly "The Pilkeys are excellent writers and do an impressive, thorough job covering most of the issues involved in global climate change... the breadth of subject matter is impressive. Anyone interested in examining a specific climate change topic would do well to start with this primer... As an introductory book on global climate change, this is by far the best I've found. It's ideal for the non-specialist who wants to learn more about the issues and get an appreciation for how far out to lunch the denial lobby is. This illustrations alone are worth the price." - Andrew Thaler, Southern Fried Science " [Fraser's] art meshes splendidly with the book's written material, engaging the imagination at the same time as the text does the intellect. It adds an appropriate poignancy to the message of the threats climate change carries for human life on the globe... The book is an excellent survey for the layperson who wants an overview of the science and an understanding of what it points to for human society." - Bryan Walker, Hot Topic: Global Warming and the Future of New Zealand "[T]he book does a good job of explaining the foundations of climate science to an interested novice. The chapter on climate change sceptics stands out for its passionate description of how industrial groups spread doubt among the public... Mary Edna Fraser's batiks ... turn global catastrophes into works of art. Her beautiful illustrations have the same effect as the Earth from the Air photo series by Yann Arthus-Bertrand: landscapes are flattened into abstract patterns, illustrating our planet's unique beauty in the hope that, once impressed, you will want to protect it." - Catherine Brahic, New Scientist "Once again, the internationally recognized artist Mary Edna Fraser has created stunning batiks illustrating the beauty and vulnerability of our earth. In this book, color images of her large-scale silks powerfully reinforce the authors' message on the realities of global climate change."-Scott Shanklin-Peterson, former Senior Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts "Only someone like Orrin H. Pilkey, who has been working on climate all his life, could call this book a 'primer' on global climate change. It is, in fact, a gold mine of useful analysis, insights, and information on the subject. The writing is crisp, clear, and engaging. My favorite chapter is the one on the global warming denial lobby, an expose of the fossil fuel industry's effort to confuse the American public. And the batik illustrations by Mary Edna Fraser are extraordinary. Don't just buy a copy for yourself; get a few for your friends, too!"-Lester R. Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute, and author of World on the Edge "This timely, informative book is exactly what the public needs to understand the ongoing disruption of the earth's climate. Orrin H. and Keith C. Pilkey present an excellent summary of what we know, and what we don't know, about the planet's climate. They also provide a superb overview of a huge campaign underwritten by corporate dollars and intended to confuse the public and manufacture doubt about climate issues."-Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus, Friends of the Earth "Written by a world-famous geoscientist and his lawyer son, this little book is a sparkling contribution to global climate change arguments: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Orrin H. and Keith C. Pilkey go behind the scenes to debunk the myths that deniers are using to drown out the basic message from science: global warming is now upon us. The color reproductions of Mary Edna Fraser's splashing batiks capture aerial views of earthly landscapes and phenomena: ice caps and glacial moulins, Kilimanjaro's no-snow cap, oil on the water (after the BP spill), Hurricane Katrina before it struck the Gulf Coast, and Amazon tributaries as seen from space. Buy this book because it is beautiful. And then read it."-Philip N. Froelich, former Director, Oceans and Climates Division, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University " [Fraser's] art meshes splendidly with the book's written material, engaging the imagination at the same time as the text does the intellect. It adds an appropriate poignancy to the message of the threats climate change carries for human life on the globe... The book is an excellent survey for the layperson who wants an overview of the science and an understanding of what it points to for human society." -- Bryan Walker, Hot Topic: Global Warming and the Future of New Zealand "[T]he book does a good job of explaining the foundations of climate science to an interested novice. The chapter on climate change sceptics stands out for its passionate description of how industrial groups spread doubt among the public... Mary Edna Fraser's batiks ... turn global catastrophes into works of art. Her beautiful illustrations have the same effect as the Earth from the Air photo series by Yann Arthus-Bertrand: landscapes are flattened into abstract patterns, illustrating our planet's unique beauty in the hope that, once impressed, you will want to protect it." -- Catherine Brahic, New Scientist "The Pilkeys are excellent writers and do an impressive, thorough job covering most of the issues involved in global climate change... the breadth of subject matter is impressive. Anyone interested in examining a specific climate change topic would do well to start with this primer... As an introductory book on global climate change, this is by far the best I've found. It's ideal for the non-specialist who wants to learn more about the issues and get an appreciation for how far out to lunch the denial lobby is. This illustrations alone are worth the price." -- Andrew Thaler, Southern Fried Science "The Pilkeys have made the interesting choice to illustrate their book not with the expected facts and figures but with colorful batik prints of important climate sites illustrated by South Carolina artist Mary Edna Fraser... The stunning images are somehow more effective than traditional images would be, as the ancient batik cloth-dying technique and indigenous designs it produces generated for this reader an overriding mood of mourning, loss and regret-as if the disaster has already happened, as if we've already failed to stop it." -- Gerry Canavan, Independent Weekly

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About Orrin H. Pilkey

Orrin H. Pilkey is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and Founder and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, based at Western Carolina University. Pilkey has written and edited many books, including, most recently, (with Rob Young) The Rising Sea and (with Linda Pilkey-Jarvis) Useless Arithmetic, an indictment of mathematical models used to predict environmental change. He is the author or co-author of many books in the Living with the Shore book series that he co-edited for Duke University Press. Pilkey is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Francis Shepard Medal for excellence in Marine Geology, the Priestley Award for distinguished contributions to environmental science, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Coastal Federation, and the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Pilkey lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Keith C. Pilkey is an attorney with a longstanding interest in geoengineering and corporate influence on science policy. He lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. Mary Edna Fraser is an artist who highlights environmental concerns in large silk batiks, which are often based on maps, satellite images, and the photographs that she takes while flying her family's 1946 propeller plane. Deemed a "pilot with a palette" by Michael Kilian of the Chicago Tribune, Fraser has exhibited widely, including at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Reviewing that show, Hank Burchard of the Washington Post declared that "the batiks amount to visual poetry." Fraser and Orrin H. Pilkey are the co-authors of A Celebration of the World's Barrier Islands. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Table of contents

Preface 1. Global Changes and the Greenhouse Earth 2. The Impact of Global Changes 3. Doubts, Uncertainties, and Qualms 4. The Manufacture of Dissent: The Global Warming Denial Lobby 5. The Future of Ice 6. Global Change in the Oceans 7. Disappearing Civilizations 8. Global Change in the Biosphere 9. Plan B: Geoengineering to the Rescue? About the Art Bibliography Index

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