Peter D. Ward

UW professor Peter D. Ward is not a movie critic, but he curtly dismisses the eco-disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow as “terrible.” But Ward is an expert on climate change, and he lays out some dark future scenarios in The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps (Basic Books, $25.95). Each chapter begins with a little sci-fi vignette speculating how we might respond to global warming and higher sea levels. (For example, Greenland becomes green and the U.S. government abandons Florida.) On the scientific side, however, Ward is firm about data and causality. In a few short centuries, the industrial revolution has provided “a recipe for human extinction.” It’s all about the carbon, measured in parts per million. As that figure rises, so do the seas, while the lands become ever more infertile. (Ward also blames overpopulation for our excess carbon output.) The effect is like reading The World Without Us—only, unfortunately, we’re still there to suffer. Yet amid the bleakness, Ward also takes us on a research trip to Antarctica and pauses for a few practical digressions. (Drinking wine with Robert Mondavi, they speculate where the vineyards will have to relocate.) Is there a remedy? Consume less, drive less, emit less carbon, plant more trees—you’ve heard that before. Plus maybe a “reflective space mesh” and other untried new technologies. Otherwise, in a few more millennia, Ward foresees Seattle as “seven islands and a peninsula.” BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
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