'Dire Predictions' book offers easy guide to global warming science

A’ndrea Elyse Messer
August 25, 2008
book cover with foot print

Global warming, increasing greenhouse gases and melting ice sheets are among the predictions made by the Nobel-Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but comprehending the scientific assessments, their human impacts, and the possibilities for mitigation is not easy. Now, in a new book, Penn State climate scientists Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump digest the most recent IPCC reports into easily understood, sometimes amusing explanations and illustrations.

Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming features all the graphs, images and eye-catching layout expected from international publisher DK Publishing, which specializes in popular illustrated reference books such as The Way the Universe Works.

The book covers the work of IPCC Working Groups One, Two, and Three. While the reports of these three groups are available online, each is well over 700 pages plus appendices. Mann and Kump have boiled down the essence into five parts, with mostly two-page articles full of colorful graphics, for a total of just over 200 pages of engaging science.

The scientific information leaps off the page, with vivid images and a multitude of maps. Sections treat "Climate Change Basics," "Climate Change Projections," "The Impacts of Climate Change," "Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change," and "Solving Global Warming."

A key element is accurate information debunking the most commonly held myths about climate change, including the ideas that carbon dioxide is causing the holes in the ozone, that the increase in carbon dioxide is the result of natural cycles, and that our atmosphere is not warming at all. The authors consider each myth or misunderstanding and explain any kernel of truth within it before providing its refutation.

While the book is perfect for people already interested in global climate change, it would also make a good beginning for an introductory course in the subject for students not majoring in science. College, high school, and middle school students, as well as most adults, will find the book an easy roadmap to understanding the global warming debate.

Michael E. Mann, Ph.D., is associate professor of meteorology and director of the Earth System Science Center in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He can be reached at mann@psu.edu. Lee R. Kump, Ph.D., is professor of geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; lkump@psu.edu.Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming was published by DK Publishing in July 2008.

Last Updated August 25, 2008