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In New England, 1816 was called the Year Without a Summer. Crops failed throughout America and, in Western Europe, it was even worse, with food riots and armed groups raiding bakeries and grain markets. All this turmoil followed a catastrophic volcanic eruption--a year earlier on the other side of the world--the eruption of Tambora, a blast heard almost a thousand miles away. In When the Planet Rages, Charles Officer and Jake Page describe some of the great events of environmental history, from calamities such as the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 (the greatest in recorded history) and the ice ages, to recent man-made disasters such as Chernobyl, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. Officer and Page provide fascinating discussions of meteorites and comets; of the demise of mammoths, mastodons, and dinosaurs; and of great floods that have swept the earth.
But they also show that human activity can make trouble for nature, discussing the depletion of natural resources (we burn coal and oil at millions of times their natural rate of production), air pollution in Los Angeles and London (where the Killer Smog of 1952 caused the death of some four thousand people), and the pollution of major waterways, like the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie. For the paperback edition, the authors have included a new preface, have added material on the recent Sichuan, China earthquake, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina, and discuss such topics as of the (un)predictability of symptoms of global warming. Ranging from the monumental eruption at Krakatoa to industrial disasters such as the mercury poisoning in Japan's Minamata Bay, When the Planet Rages will engage anyone concerned with the environment and the natural world.
PART ONE - NATURE'S EFFECT ON MAN; 1. The Earth is Still Hot and Mobile; 2. ...And from Time to Time Its Surface Moves Around; 3. There Have Been Frequent Flooding and Sea-Level Change Events on Earth; 4. ...And Occasional Visitors from Outer Space; PART TWO - CHANGES IN CLIMATE AND LIFE ON EARTH; 5. The Earth's Climate Changes on a Variety of Time Scales; 6. ...And on Rare Occasions There Are Changes in Its Community of Living Things; PART THREE - MAN'S EFFECT ON NATURE; 7. Then Along Came Man and Man Has Effected Vast Environmental Changes on a Local and Regional Scale; 8. ...With the Potential for Equally Great Changes on a Global Scale; 9. The Most Fundamental Question Facing Mankind Today is Whether Man Can Evolve to Live in Harmony with Nature
Tales of the Earth reads like 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' with footnotes, but the authors are never less than scholarly. They respond to catastrophe with curiosity, not panic: if we can't banish natural disasters, we can at least learn to be better stewards of the planet.--Newsweek
"Exceptionally lively....From hundreds of millions of years ago to this summer, from droughts and ice ages and volcanoes to the black plague, Officer and Page prance from topic to topic across the aeons, providing an irresistible combination of history, speculation, humor and 'hard science' explanation."--Washington Post Book World
"Each chapter is jam-packed with interesting anecdotes to help illustrate and drive home the impact of the various events described....A very entertaining and informative book to read...suggest it to anyone interested in the mechanisms (and their results) of the world in which we live."-Douglas J. Galpin, Harvard University