Earth Day Selection: Climate Change by Edmond Mathez

Climate ChangeLeave it to George Will to not let us forget why Earth Day is still necessary. As the conservative columnist continues to dig himself a deeper hole by attacking global warming science, we are reminded why it so important that the facts (yes, the facts) are available and circulated.

With that in mind, we’d like to recommend Edmond Mathez’s Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future. Mathez, who is also the curator of the excellent Climate Change exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, synthesizes and explains the science underlying both the natural progress of climate change and the effect of human activity on the deteriorating health of our planet.

For more on the book, we have posted the book’s introduction and chapter 6: Learning from Climates Past. And here is a brief excerpt from the introduction in which Mathez explains why knowing the science and the facts behind climate change is so important.

What we do know from the available records, both geological and observational, is that the climate is changing. Hardly a day goes by without some mention of it in the news. Earth’s climate is warming; CO2 and other greenhouse gases have been building up in the atmosphere mainly as a consequence of the burning of fossil fuel; and the scientific evidence is now overwhelming that this buildup is causing the warming. These statements are the facts of climate change.

Less certain are how much the climate will warm in response to growing emissions and to what extent the warming will change the world around us. Should the warming be substantial, it may have huge, negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, agriculture, the global economy, and the health of human societies everywhere. These possible results are the fears of climate change.

It is important to separate the facts from the fears because although the facts give us insight, the fears reflect uncertainty. We will need knowledge and ingenuity to respond to global warming. To gain them we must start with the facts.

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