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Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects

Accessible to students from multiple disciplinary backgrounds
Updated version of successful first edition
Emphasis on climate change and biology and human ecology

By: Jonathan Cowie (Author)

487 pages, illustrations, tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jan 2013 | Edition: 2 | #199397 | ISBN-13: 9781107603561
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $43/€39 approx
Paperback | Jul 2007 | Edition: 1 | #166076 | ISBN-13: 9780521696197
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £45.99 $56/€52 approx

About this book

Please note that the publisher has cancelled plans for a hardback version of the second edition.

The second edition of Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects has been fully updated and substantially expanded to include the considerable developments (since publication of the first edition) in our understanding of the science of climate change, its impacts on biological and human systems, and developments in climate policy. Written in an accessible style, it provides a broad review of past, present and likely future climate change from the viewpoints of biology, ecology, human ecology and Earth system science. It will again prove to be invaluable to a wide range of readers, from students in the life sciences who need a brief overview of the basics of climate science, to atmospheric science, geography, geoscience and environmental science students who need to understand the biological and human ecological implications of climate change. It is also a valuable reference text for those involved in environmental monitoring, conservation and policy making.

Reviews of the first edition:

"Cowie's book deserves more than a cursory glance – it demands to be read. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at both the range of contents and the style which is reader-friendly, quantitative, authoritative, but above all, stimulating; the pages dare you not to turn them over and read further."
- The Biologist

"Cowie offers an excellent overview of the foremost environmental problem of the twenty-first century. As such, the book is about biology and human ecology as they relate to climate change [...] The author provides non-specialist readers with a very good introduction to the complexity of global climate change [...] a useful starting point for environmentalists, policy makers, and teachers. The book does an excellent job of pulling together the complex web of evidence for climate change [...] Summing up: highly recommended. All levels."
- D. F. Karnosky, Choice

"As Cowie explains in his introduction, Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects is written to be accessible to undergraduates, scientists outside of the life sciences, specialists reading outside of their field, and policy makers and analysts interested in climate change and its relevance to society. In this regard, he succeeds very well [...] a fine treatment of global climate change and interactions with biological systems that can be used to inform a variety of readers. It has value as an educational introduction to climate change for nonscientists as well as a refresher for scientists. Almost everyone is likely to gain a fresh perspective or learn something new."
- EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union

"This remarkable book about global warming was written by an erudite biologist rather than a physical scientist [...] The result is a very valuable and original contribution about how climate change has affected the Earth's biota in the past, what is now occurring and what is likely to occur in the future [...] Cowie has a very clear mastery of his subject and [...] is an excellent communicator [...] It is a masterpiece in its subject area in the opinion of this reviewer and will be read for many years."
- Physics in Canada

" [...] a book that is measured, informative, balanced, scientifically sound, and as up-to-date as a book can possibly be in these days of rapid information accretion."
- Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

" [...] as I got deeper into this tome, I became more and more impressed by just how well Cowie tied together so many disciplines [...] There is so much to gain from [this] book [...] I know of no other source, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that brings together the breadth and depth of material that this book does [...] the bottom line is that anyone who wants to understand climate change and its impacts, but who doesn't have time to earn a PhD on the topic, should buy this book [...] Cowie does a brilliant job of weaving together the evolution of life with the evolution of Earth's climate."
- Bioscience

"[This book] is an impressive endeavor that weaves together discussion of both natural and social science processes associated with climate change [...] the strength of this contribution is precisely the interdisciplinary approach taken to such a multifaceted challenge. The author commendably accounts for the dynamism and agency of biophysical as well as human elements in telling this history at the human-environment interface."
- Global Environmental Politics

"Overlapping the disciplines of atmospheric and life sciences, this is the first book on aspects of climate change and biological impacts which I have seen for some years which addresses these issues in a comprehensive manner, by showing the co-evolution of climate and life through geological time. The book provides an up-to-date synthesis of this rapidly developing field [...] The book will make an excellent teaching aid, allowing students from the biological and atmospheric sciences to see the fundamental interaction between climate change and life, and an excellent reference for anybody interested in these interactions."
- Meteorological Applications


1. An introduction to climate change
2. Principal indicators of past climates
3. Past climate change
4. The Oligocene to the Quaternary: climate and biology
5. Present climate and biological change
6. Current warming and likely future impacts
7. The human ecology of climate change
8. Sustainability and policy

Appendix 1. Glossary and abbreviations
Appendix 2. Bio-geological chronology
Appendix 3. Calculations of energy demand/supply and orders of magnitude
Appendix 4. Further thoughts for consideration


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Jonathan Cowie has spent many years conveying the views of biological science learned societies to policy-makers. His earlier postgraduate studies related to energy and the environment, and he is a former Head of Science Policy and Books at the Institute of Biology (UK). He is author of Climate and Human Change: Disaster or Opportunity (Taylor & Francis, 1998).

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