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Academic & Professional Books  Palaeontology  Palaeoclimatology

The Story of Earth's Climate in 25 Discoveries How Scientists Found the Connections Between Climate and Life

Popular Science New
By: Donald R Prothero(Author)
466 pages, 216 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
The Story of Earth's Climate in 25 Discoveries
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  • The Story of Earth's Climate in 25 Discoveries ISBN: 9780231203586 Hardback Mar 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £32.00
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Over 4.5 billion years, Earth's climate has transformed tremendously. Before our more temperate recent past, the planet swung from one extreme to another – from a greenhouse world of sweltering temperatures and high sea levels to a "snowball earth" in which glaciers reached the equator. During this history, we now know, living things and the climate have always influenced and even shaped each other. But the climate has never changed as rapidly or as drastically as it has since the Industrial Revolution.

In this lively and entertaining book, Donald R. Prothero explores the astonishing connections between climate and life through the ages, telling the remarkable stories of the scientists who made crucial discoveries. Journeying through the intertwined evolution of climate and life, he tackles questions such as: Why do we have phytoplankton to thank for the air we breathe? What kind of climate was necessary for the rise of the dinosaurs – or the mammals, their successors? When and how have climatic changes caused mass extinctions? Prothero concludes with the Ice Ages and the Holocene, the role of climate in human history, and the perils of anthropogenic climate change. Understanding why the climate has changed in the past, this timely book shows, is essential to grasping the gravity of how radically human activity is altering the climate today.



1. Rare Earth
2. In the Beginning
3. Moonstruck
4. Faint Young Sun
5. The Oceans Form
6. GASP: Oxygen in the Atmosphere
7. Planet of the Scum
8. Snowball Earth
9. Plankton Power
10. Greenhouse of the Trilobites
11. Mass Extinctions: The Ordovician Event
12. The Devonian Crises
13. The First Forests
14. The Pangean Icehouse
15. The "Great Dying"
16. From Icehouse to Greenhouse: The Triassic and Jurassic
17. Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs
18. The Death of the Dinosaurs: The End-Cretaceous Extinctions
19. Return of the Greenhouse: The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum
20. From Greenhouse to Icehouse: The Eocene-Oligocene Transition
21. American Serengeti
22. Ice Planet: The Pleistocene Ice Ages
23. The Death of the Megamammals
24. The Holocene: Climate and Human Civilization
25. The Future Greenhouse Planet


Customer Reviews


Donald R. Prothero is a palaeontology and geology researcher, teacher, and author. He is an adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a research associate in vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. His Columbia University Press books include The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them (2018), The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries: Amazing Fossils and the People Who Found Them (2019), and The Story of Evolution in 25 Discoveries: The Evidence and the People Who Found It (2020).

Popular Science New
By: Donald R Prothero(Author)
466 pages, 216 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"In this enjoyable and deep account, Prothero uses fascinating lessons from geology and paleontology to explain and illustrate the important impacts that climate has had on life, and that life has had on climate in turn. The Story of Earth's Climate in 25 Discoveries is an excellent addition to the author's series on the 25 Discoveries concept."
– Bruce Lieberman, Dean's Professor, Senior Curator in the Biodiversity Institute, and Director of the Paleontological Institute, University of Kansas

"With his traditional clarity, organization, and experience, Prothero takes readers through the evolution of life and climate to illustrate why we are in trouble today. The stories of the lives of scientists and how they made their discoveries are interesting reading and an essential contribution."
– Gregory J. Retallack, author of Soil Grown Tall: The Epic Saga of Life from Earth

"Delegates at COP28 continue their discussions on how to limit and make preparations for future climate change. These discussions, their success or failure will have consequences for all of humanity. Decisions made today will have implications for all future generations too. The publication of a new book that documents the history of our planet's climate and its connection to life on Earth provides context and delivers a fresh perspective. The Story of Earth's Climate in 25 Discoveries is written by Donald R. Prothero. He is an incredibly talented American palaeontologist and geologist with a gift for communication. As adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University (Pomona, California), the author is well qualified to explain the intimate connection between climate and life on Earth. However, unlike many scientists, Donald R. Prothero's engaging writing style permits the general reader to understand and grasp sometimes difficult concepts."
Everything Dinosaur

"Paleontologist, Donald Prothero, takes on the hefty task of recounting how life and climate have shaped each other during Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. The chapter on the end-Cretaceous extinction is a knockout. Prothero has a big problem with the notion that an asteroid impact was the sole cause of this mass extinction, and also with what he sees as an excessive focus on dinosaurs at the expense of other groups. The whole tone and pace shifts as Prothero moves into fifth gear and explains why it is a bit more complicated than 'big rock hits, everything dies.' [The book] is rich from concepts, stories and characters – and there is always another apocalypse just a few pages away."
New Scientist

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