A scientific survey whose rhetorical title is answered in the affirmative--sort of. Philander (Geosciences/Princeton Univ.)...


IS THE TEMPERATURE RISING? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming

A scientific survey whose rhetorical title is answered in the affirmative--sort of. Philander (Geosciences/Princeton Univ.) is one of those gung-ho professors whose excitement over his subject allows him to get ahead of himself at every turn, and the pacing of this book is headlong, full of formulas, detours, and learned digressions. For all that, Philander covers much ground, taking in the work of several disciplines to ask whether global warming is a reality or, as some critics charge, a case of the-sky-is-falling speculation. Well, as it happens, the sky is falling, and Philander enjoins us to ""familiarize ourselves with the available information concerning the processes that make this planet habitable and the sensitivity of these processes to perturbations."" Those perturbations--chiefly the continued destruction of the ozone layer by CFC and carbon-monoxide emissions--are sobering phenomena indeed. Philander devotes much discussion to just how scientists have come to believe that the ozone layer is in fact disappearing (for one thing, he writes, they analyze data gathered by an impressive array of 700 weather balloons released each day around the world, coupled with a network of satellites and weather stations). He also divulges that, for all the equipment available to them, these scientists can predict with only a limited range of accuracy how the Earth will respond to disturbances. Even so, he charges that it is naive and irresponsible to defer decisions to curb the production and discharge of CFCs, as some politicians have recently urged, until definitive scientific proof of global warming has been gathered. Especially, he adds, when the long-range forecast is for a continued rise in global surface temperatures and a rise in sea levels as the polar icecaps begin to melt. It all makes for an alarming tale enthusiastically, and convincingly, told.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0691050341

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998

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