Despite today’s polarized debate over global warming among the public at large, a strong foundation of solid science underlies the hype and political agendas. What do we really know about global climate change and the recent spate of extreme weather disasters, and what are we guessing at? What does it really mean for us here on the ground as well as for the rest of the world, and what, if anything can we do about it? As an internationally known climate researcher, author, and educator who is also a “former climate skeptic,” Curt Stager is the perfect non-political guide to the most reliable and important facts about modern climate change, where the exaggerations lie, and how to tell the difference.
Most debate over global warming looks only as far ahead as 2100 AD, but what happens after that? As Curt Stager, author of “Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth,” argues, our fossil fuel emissions will affect climates for much longer than most of us yet realize. Even in the mildest scenario, the world won’t fully recover for tens of thousands of years, and possibly much longer. What will life in that shockingly deep future be like? Some will win and some will lose. On the bright side, we’ve already prevented the next nation-crushing ice age. But as the Earth finally starts to cool down again, “climate whiplash” will force people, animals, and plants to reverse their adaptive strategies. Losers may then become winners – but exactly how the future plays out is ultimately up to us as we search for a sane, sustainable path forward in this new geologic epoch, the “Age of Humans.”
Curt Stager is a climate scientist, environmental historian, and author whose research deals with the climatic history and future of Africa, Peru, and the northeastern United States. He has published numerous technical articles in journals including Science and Quaternary Research, and has written extensively for general audiences in periodicals such as National Geographic and Fast Company. Since 1990, he has also co-hosted Natural Selections, a weekly science program on North Country Public Radio. His latest book, “Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth” (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) shows how new research unveils the long-term future of climate and what it means for our descendants, using geological history as a guide. He has taught natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College in the northern Adirondacks since 1987, and is an adjunct professor at the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono.