In this extraordinary book, paleoclimatologist Curt Stager shows how what we do to the environment in the next one hundred years will affect not just the next few centuries but the next 100,000 years of human existence. Most of us have accepted that our planet is warming and that humans have played the key role in causing climate change. Yet few of us realize the magnitude of what’s happening.
In Deep Future, Curt Stager draws on the planet’s geological history to provide a view of where we may be headed long term. On the bright side, we have already put off the next ice age. But whether we will barrel ahead on a polluting path to a totally ice-free Arctic, miles of submerged coasts or an acidified ocean still remains to be decided. And that decision is ours to make. Deep Future adds a new dimension to the debate—one that will change how we think about what we are doing to our planet.
Stager (Field Notes From the Northern Forest), a climatologist working at the University of Maine's Climate Center, provides a long-range view of climate change which is at odds with the "sky is falling" alarmist view of global warming. While not denying the effect of human activity on global climate, Stager is sharply critical of media hype and spin. As a paleoecologist, he draws on biology, chemistry, and geology including past geological records to situate current trends in the context of long range effects, as shown by the fossil and geological record of planetary evolution. In other words, in the aftermath of the last ice age, "...it took several millennia of melting for global sea level to stabilize near today's elevation..." He suggests that we "have prevented the next ice-age"; once predicted to happen in 50,000 years, he states that our climate activity has added another 70,000 years to that estimate. Although Stager thinks a disaster comparable to the biblical flood is unlikely, he doesn't minimize the potential devastation that could occur from even modest sea level rise or the loss of marine biodiversity. A thoughtful, if controversial, approach to an over-heated subject.