Human history, as written traditionally, leaves out the important ecological and climate context of historical events. But the capability to integrate the history of human beings with the natural history of the Earth now exists, and we are finding that human-environmental systems are intimately linked in ways we are only beginning to appreciate. In Sustainability or Collapse?, researchers from a range of scholarly disciplines develop an integrated human and environmental history over millennial, centennial, and decadal time scales and make projections for the future.
The thin layer of atmosphere that clings to the surface of our planet is a fragile and corrupted brew. Air is in constant, restless migration around the globe, connecting us in the most intimate fashion. From the dust storms that sweep into Beijing from faraway deserts to the smog from Chinese factories that shrouds Los Angeles, our air, the ultimate commons, is tragically defenseless. Breathing air is an involuntary physical function, but keeping the air breathable requires acts of political imagination and will.
More than half the globe is covered by visible clouds. Clouds control major parts of the Earth's energy balance, influencing both incoming shortwave solar radiation and outgoing longwave thermal radiation. Latent heating and cooling related to cloud processes modify atmospheric circulation, and, by modulating sea surface temperatures, clouds affect the oceanic circulation. Clouds are also an essential component of the global water cycle, on which all terrestrial life depends.
The impact of climate change is widespread, affecting rich and poor countries and economies both large and small. Similarly, the study of climate change spans many disciplines, in both natural and social sciences. In environmental economics, leading methodologies include integrated assessment (IA) and game-theoretic modeling, which, despite their common premises, seldom intersect.
This companion to Passive Cooling and Solar Building Architecture (volumes 8 and 9) describes developments in passive solar technology that will save time, energy, and resources in planning for the buildings of the future. It is filled with tips and useful research for architects and designers and includes three substantial chapters on general modeling.
Climate change will shape the political, economic, and cultural landscape as surely as it shapes the natural landscape. It challenges our existing political institutions, ethical theories, and ways of conceptualizing the human relationship to the environment; it defies current principles of distributive justice, transcends current discourses on rights, and disrupts our sense of place.
Just south of San Francisco lies California's Salinas Valley, the heart of a multibillion dollar agricultural industry that dominates U. S. vegetable production. How did the sleepy valley described in the stories of John Steinbeck become the nation's "salad bowl"? In Cultivating Science, Harvesting Power, Christopher R. Henke explores the ways that science helped build the Salinas Valley and California's broader farm industry.
Studies show that institutions play a role both in causing and in addressing problems arising from human-environment interactions. But the nature of this role is complex and not easily described. This book presents an overview of recent research on how institutions matter in efforts to tackle such environmental problems as the loss of biological diversity, the degradation of forests, and the overarching issue of climate change.
The most colossal environmental disturbance in human history is under way. Ever-rising levels of the potent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) are altering the cycles of matter and life and interfering with the Earth's natural cooling process. Melting Arctic ice and mountain glaciers are just the first relatively mild symptoms of what will result from this disruption of the planetary energy balance. In CO2 Rising, scientist Tyler Volk explains the process at the heart of global warming and climate change: the global carbon cycle.
Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways: as a "fatal discontinuity," a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as a persistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars, and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and political shifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring.