Oliver Morton's book is an outstanding resource for readers who are not climate scientists but who want to gain a deeper and scientifically informed understanding of climate change. The book provides a detailed review of what is known about the many interacting systems and cycles that affect our earth's climate. The reader comes to appreciate how the earth's climate is determined through intricately complex and interacting systems that include carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles, the earth's movement through the solar system, the planet's geology, and the solar weather. Morton also writes about historic, political, and current social factors that have an impact on why we are facing a climate change crisis.
Within the book's chapters Morton provides information on possible actions that governments or non-government organizations could take to minimize or even prevent climate change. Some of these actions sound like far-future science fiction, but others are feasible given current technologies. In his discussion of each type of action Morton presents detailed scientific explanations for how the action would work. He also discusses the chances of success as well as economic, cultural, and political considerations.
Sections of the book hold fascinating information about the earth's climate that make the book hard to stop reading, while other sections maybe considered to be overly detailed for some readers. For instance, some sections of the book provide detailed descriptions of contributions of individual scientists. This information may be interesting to a scientist working in that particular field of research and who is familiar with the people mentioned, but it can be too much detail for others since these sections don't add knowledge that helps us understand climate change. On the other hand, the author writes that we already have the technology and knowledge needed to avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change. This is very hopeful information if some of the barriers Morton discusses can be overcome.
Though I have known from my studies in biology that the earth's climate was a complex interacting combination of different systems and cycles, Morton's book explains in understandable detail how these systems and cycles work and interact with one another to create the earth's climate. I now have a better scientific understanding of how and why our planet's climate is changing and how challenging and important it is to find a solution.
AMANDA L. GLAZE is an Assistant Professor of Middle Grades & Secondary Science Education at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. In addition to science teacher education, she has taught courses in biological sciences for grades 7–12 and undergraduate students over the last twelve years. Her interests include evolutionary biology, science and religion, and the intersections of science and society—specifically where scientific understandings are deemed controversial by the public. Glaze holds degrees in science education from The University of Alabama and Jacksonville State University. Her address is Department of Middle Grades & Secondary Education, Georgia Southern University, PO BOX 8134, Statesboro, GA 30458; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.