Tony Eggleton offers an excellent introduction to climate change

As we all know, climate science covers a very broad range of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, geology, oceanography, biology, thermal sciences, and astronomy, to name just a few. It is rare for one person to encapsulate what is known about climate change in a single manuscript. But Professor Eggleton has done just that with his new text, A Short Introduction to Climate Change. I'm going to be reviewing it at greater length for the National Center for Science Education's journal Reports of the National Center for Science Education, but I'm so enthusiastic about it that I didn't want to wait to publicize it.

Professor Eggleton covers the waterfront on climate change, clearly articulating what we know, and what we don't know, about our Earth. Beginning with his own journey as a scientist, sharing his motivation for writing the book, Tony quickly moves into the foundations of climate change. While it is obvious Tony's view is shaped by his geography (Australia), he writes for a worldwide audience. The changes to Australia that he observes are being manifested around the world, in our neighborhoods too.

First, Tony describes global warming by focusing on the markers of a warming planet: how the world is reacting as extreme weather events increase and climate zones move. Importantly, he carefully describes how scientists take measurements of the Earth.

In his chapter on weather and climate, Tony faces some of the common misconceptions about climate. Readers learn that weather changes on a day-to-day or year-to-year basis; it will continue to change in the future. But those changes are not climate change. Here he discusses the astronomical and human causes of long-term climate variability in an honest, accurate, and compelling manner.

Next, Tony covers the Earth's temperature as it is determined from solar energy and greenhouse gases. He artfully connects metaphor with fact in his descriptions of human and natural variability and Earth-system thermodynamics.

In the second part of the book, which covers droughts, floods, snow, ice, and the ocean, Tony presents up-to-date information about the trends we have observed and the trends we expect to see in the coming decades. His science is solid and his appreciation of the complexities of observing the entire globe is excellent. He carefully explains the difference between regional and global climate patterns. He also describes the under-appreciated reality of ocean acidification in a way that will be appreciated by chemists yet accessible by non-experts.

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Posted by John Abraham on Wednesday, 22 January, 2014

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