A Guide to the End of the World

A Guide to the End of the World

3.42 (47 ratings by Goodreads)
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The earth is an extraordinarily fragile place which is fraught with danger - a tiny rock hurtling through space, wracked by violent crustal movements and subject to dramatic climatic changes as the earth's geophysical and orbital circumstances vary. Only 10,000 years after the end of the Ice Age, the planet is sweltering in some of the highest temperatures it has ever experienced. At the same time, overpopulation and exploitation are dramatically increasing the vulnerability of modern society to natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. As futurologists long ago discovered, predicting the future is high on impossible, and few of us can even start to imagine what life will be like on planet earth in a million or even a thousand years time. The real question is, however, will there be any human life here at all? "The End of the World" will focus on the many potential catastrophes facing our planet and our race in the future, and will address both the probabilities of these events happening and our chances of survival.The breadth of treatment will extend from discussion of the likely consequences of the current global warming experiment to the inevitable destruction of the Earth in the far future, when it is enveloped by our giant, bloated sun. In between, other end of the world scenarios will be examined, including the new Ice Age, the asteroid and comet impact threat, supervolcanoes and their effects, and megatsunami.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 212 pages
  • 129.5 x 200.7 x 15.2mm | 340.2g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • numerous halftones and figures
  • 0192802976
  • 9780192802972

Table of contents

Foreword; 1. A very short introduction to the earth; 2. Global warming: a lot of hot air?; 3. Whatever happened to the next Ice Age?; 4. The enemy within: supervolcanoes, giant quakes, and megatsunami; 5. The threat from space: asteroid & comet impacts; 6. Five billion years AD: the earth's final days; 7. Epilogueshow more

Review Text

Professional prophet of doom McGuire (Geophysical Hazards/University College London; Raging Planet, not reviewed) surveys the natural hazards threatening Life As We Know It and concludes that a wide assortment of cataclysmic Big Ones are on the way. Writing of the inevitability-though not necessarily the imminence-of some natural event that could drastically alter or even terminate human life on earth, the author deals with the fragility of earth (yes, it's fragile), global warming (yes, it's real), ice ages (yes, another will come), volcanoes (yes, they remain a threat), and extraterrestrial dangers (no, not UFOs; yes, asteroids and comets). This is not a good book to share with a depressed friend. On our restless planet there are 1,400 earthquakes per day, a volcanic eruption per week, 40 hurricanes per year. "The picture I have painted is certainly bleak," quips McGuire, "but the reality may be even worse." And so it is. Ice ages are periodic and, oddly, can be triggered by the kind of global warming now in progress. "Super-eruptions" of volcanoes do occur. If, for example, Yellowstone were to go off as it did 650,000 years ago, it would not damage just Yogi Bear; the preeminence of the US would end, states McGuire, and the global economy would nose-dive. On an even grimmer note, he reproduces a scary chart that shows the orbits of planet-bashing asteroids near the earth. There is, he says, a 100% chance that a big one will hit us again. (Remember that 10-kilometer rock that did in the dinosaurs 65 million years ago?) When it does, death will be instant for those it lands near or on, slow and miserable for the rest who survive to confront "cosmic winter" as sunlight is unable to penetrate the cloud of dust kicked up by the collision. Have a nice day, says our Cassandra, for that may be all that remains. (38 b&w illustrations) (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

Focuses on future catastrophes facing our planet and addresses the probabilities of their happening and our chances of survival.show more

About Bill McGuire

Bill McGuire is Professor of Geohazards and Director of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre, University College, London. He has worked on volcanoes all over the world, including Mount Etna, Rabaul, and Mount Pinatubo, is a member of the Association of British Sciences Writers, and a regular contributor to radio, television, and the press. He recently presented his own Radio 4 series on the forces of nature, and was featured in two Horizon programs as the leading British expert on volcanoes and mega-tsunami ('tidal waves'); these documentaries scored the highest ratings of the year on BBC2 (6 million).show more

Rating details

47 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 17% (8)
4 28% (13)
3 40% (19)
2 11% (5)
1 4% (2)
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