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Academic & Professional Books  Palaeontology  Palaeoclimatology

Runaway Climate What the Geological Past Can Tell Us about the Coming Climate Change Catastrophe

Coming Soon
By: Steven Earle(Author)
256 pages, 50 b/w illustrations
Runaway Climate
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  • Runaway Climate ISBN: 9780865719897 Paperback Jun 2024 Available for pre-order
Price: £16.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

With rising emissions, we are on track to cause rapid global warming with devastating consequences. But how bad could climate change get and what might it do to planet Earth and humanity?

Runaway Climate explores the causes of the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) rapid climate-heating, its dramatic impact on life on Earth, and lessons for our climate future.

Fifty-six million years ago our planet experienced a period of intense warming known as the PETM, resulting in a rapid global temperature increase of about 7°C . Triggered by natural geological processes over millennia and magnified by strong climate feedback loops, the PETM lasted for about 200,000 years and drastically altered life on Earth. Yet in only a few short decades we've pumped similar amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, making the PETM an unsettlingly apt analogy for our current predicament. This deeply cautionary tale explores:
- The runaway feedbacks that pushed the PETM's climate past the tipping point
- Subsequent cascades of environmental devastation – from plant and animal migrations to ocean acidification, extreme weather, and mass extinctions
- A sobering vision of life on hothouse Earth – a hostile world of desertification, sea-level rise, climate refugees, and agricultural collapse
- The urgent need for decisive individual and collective actions to slash carbon emissions, stabilize the climate, and undertake a rapid transition to a cleaner and healthier future.

Scientifically rigorous yet accessible to a wide audience, Runaway Climate is essential reading for everyone committed to understanding and taking action on the climate emergency.


Chapter 1. The Bighorn Basin
Chapter 2. The Late Paleocene World
Chapter 3. The Ocean Sediment Record
Chapter 4. Climate Models
Chapter 5. Changes in the Oceans during the PETM
Chapter 6. Changes on Land during the PETM
Chapter 7. PETM Impacts on Land Plants and Animals
Chapter 8. What Caused the PETM Climate Crisis?
Chapter 9. What is Similar Now and What is Different?
Chapter 10. What Can We Expect?
Chapter 11. What is Our Role in Changing the Climate?
Chapter 12. What Do We Need to Do Now?

Customer Reviews


Steven Earle, PhD, has worked as a geologist and developed and taught university-level courses in earth sciences and climate change for over four decades. He is the author of the IPPY award-winning A Brief History of Climate Change and the widely used post-secondary textbook Physical Geology, now in its second edition. A dedicated community activist, he spearheads local engagement with climate change solutions including low-carbon transportation initiatives, heating systems, and land stewardship. Steven and his family live in a nearly net-zero house on a small sustainable farm on Gabriola Island, BC, Canada.

Coming Soon
By: Steven Earle(Author)
256 pages, 50 b/w illustrations
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