Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming

| 24th August 2009
Is the entire global ecosystem on the verge of collapse? Anthony D. Barnosky explores the threats facing the natural world and outlines some solutions

In his latest book, paleoecologist Anthony D Barnosky gives readers the opportunity to follow him in his research-based travels looking into global warming.

Whether this is your first book about global warming or one of many, you will undoubtedly gain new insights into what climatic changes the Earth has undergone previously, and how it relates to what is happening today, all the while making connections about what you can do to help.

Readers will appreciate Barnosky's in-depth explanations of the latest modeling results and empirical data about nature's changing ecosystems as he presents them from an in-the-field perspective.

Each chapter has a personal touch that offers the chance to really delve into the material as though you are an accompanying scientist on a guided tour. Such a format allows access to the first-hand emotions that professionals in the field are facing as they try to protect the Earth from further damage by human impacts and climate change.

Barnoksy argues that global warming is particularly alarming both because of the rate at which the climate change is taking place as well as how different the 'new' climates will be compared to what came before them.

He warns that entire ecosystems are being drastically transformed by a declining biodiversity that not only hinders economic and medical advancement, but could also cause the collapse of the entire global ecosystem.

The most crucial takeaway message from this book may be its advice on how to beat the 'Gang of Four' - the four most relevant dangers our planet is currently facing being global warming, habitat loss, invasive species, and population growth. Barnosky's innovative concept is to keep, connect, and create: keep nature alive, connect the geographic ranges of stressed ecosystems, and create new initiatives for additional nature reserves.

He also acknowledges global warming's primary cause, CO2 emissions, as the main problem with today's dependency on fossil fuel energy sources. Any way you look at it, Barnosky says, we are going to have to develop alternative energy sources. We can either do it now and save countless species and Earth's ecological health, or we will lose that opportunity and make the change only after those ecosystems are destroyed.

As Barnosky says, it's time to make a choice about nature: let it go, or dare to shape its future.

Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming (Island Press, £16.99)

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