303 pages, 28 b/w illustrations
Twenty thousand years ago our planet was an icehouse. Temperatures were down six degrees; ice sheets kilometres thick buried much of Europe and North America and sea levels were 130 m lower. The following 15 millennia saw an astonishing transformation as our planet metamorphosed into the temperate world upon which our civilisation has grown and thrived. One of the most dynamic periods in Earth history saw rocketing temperatures melt the great ice sheets like butter on a hot summer's day; feeding torrents of freshwater into ocean basins that rapidly filled to present levels. The removal of the enormous weight of ice at high latitudes caused the crust to bounce back triggering earthquakes in Europe and North America and provoking an unprecedented volcanic outburst in Iceland. A giant submarine landslide off the coast of Norway sent a tsunami crashing onto the Scottish coast while around the margins of the continents the massive load exerted on the crust by soaring sea levels encouraged a widespread seismic and volcanic rejoinder.
In many ways, this post-glacial world mirrors that projected to arise as a consequence of unmitigated climate change driven by human activities. Already there are signs that the effects of climbing global temperatures are causing the sleeping giant to stir once again. Could it be that we are on track to bequeath to our children and their children not only a far hotter world, but also a more geologically fractious one?
Watch a trailer below:
"McGuire traces this fascinating and disturbing story from the past in order to alert us to present and future perils"
– Geographical Magazine
"The author succeeds at interpreting complex earth science into compelling reading for a popular audience. Anyone with an interest in climate change, geology, and atmospheric science will enjoy this work."
– Jeffrey Beall, Library Journal
"Professor Bill McGuires new book is a well-timed and beautifully written work on the links between the Earths climate and its geological processes."
– The Climate Hub
1: The storm after the calm
2: Once and future climate
3: Nice day for an eruption
4: Bouncing back
5: Earth in motion
6: Water, water, everywhere
7: Reawakening the giant
Selected sources and further reading
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Bill McGuire is an academic, science writer and broadcaster. He is currently Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at UCL. Bill was a member of the UK Government Natural Hazard Working Group established in January 2005, in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami, and in 2010 a member of the Science Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE) addressing the Icelandic volcanic ash problem. His current research focus is the climate forcing of geological hazards. His books include Natural Hazards & Environmental Change, A Guide to the End of the World: Everything you Never Wanted to Know, Surviving Armageddon: Solutions for a Threatened Planet and – most recently – Seven Years to Save the Planet. He presented the BBC Radio 4 series, Disasters in Waiting and Scientists Under Pressure and the End of the World Reports on Channel 5 and Sky News.