Cover image for Greenhouse : the 200-year story of global warming
Greenhouse : the 200-year story of global warming
Christianson, Gale E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Walker and Company, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 305 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1410 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QC981.8.G56 C48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
QC981.8.G56 C48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QC981.8.G56 C48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QC981.8.G56 C48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In this illuminating history of global warming, a scientific idea that fills today's headlines, Christianson blends the research of a scholar with a novelist's storytelling skills, unfolding his epic through a series of elegantly linked stories.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The dawning realization that the earth's atmosphere exhibits a greenhouse effect and the anxiety about the influence of industrial emissions on that effect are the focus of this well-arranged history. Christianson, boasting a stellar record as a science biographer, recently Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae (1995), collects a potpourri of topics, though it seems initially strange to find the same book embracing the history of chimney construction and the history of the vanished Anasazi. However, Christianson vanquishes surprise with fluid narrative transitions between all the topics he tackles. Each one bears on a ramification of greenhouse gases, so the profusion of subjects makes a pleasing rather than confusing impression. The carbon dioxide unleashed in the past 150 years take Christianson's story to Mauna Loa, where scientist Charles Keeling first documented the increase, and thence to international conventions dealing with the fact. A levelheaded, multileveled historical excursion, providing an advantage in understanding the controversial global-warming threat. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

In an unorthodox blend of history, science and ecopolitics, Christianson (Edwin Hubble) makes a cogent case that global warming is realmost probably exacerbated by the massive consumption of fossil fuelswith consequences that could include rising sea levels, spread of insect-borne diseases and epidemics of skin cancer as greenhouse gases destroy earths protective ozone layer. A historian of science at Indiana State University, Christianson calls his gracefully written book the biography of a scientific idea. It traces the study of the phenomenon of global warming from French revolutionary Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier, who envisioned earth as a giant greenhouse, through Swedish chemist Svante Arrheniuss 1896 prediction that accumulation of industrial pollutants in the atmosphere will gradually heat up the planet, to a slew of recent scientific evidence for global warming. The engaging text roams from Antarctica, where in 1985 geophysicist Joseph Farman discovered a continent-wide hole in the ozone layer, to Hawaiis Mauna Loa volcano, where in 1958 renegade geochemist/futurist Charles Keeling plotted the rhythmic breathing of the planet, confirming his discovery that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are rising more rapidly than previously thought. Christianson works in colorful profiles of the Industrial Revolutions inventors and capitalist titans, as well as cautionary tales of disastrous climactic change involving the disappearance of the Anasazi Indians of the Southwest, the demise of Greenlands Vikings and the depression-era forced migration of Dust Bowl Okies. His concluding report on the 1997 UN conference in Kyoto, Japan, points up the reluctance of the U.S. to curb emissions of greenhouse gasesand the outright refusal, led by China, of developing countries to accept mandatory emission controls. 30 illustrations, not seen by PW. Agent, Michael Congdon. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Science historian Christianson (Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae, LJ 8/95) skillfully chronicles the scientific idea of global warming, drawing on documents that date back more than two centuries and then bringing us up to the present predicament. He writes in great detail of the significant and even the not-so-significant historical accounts that identify this phenomenon. Christiansons concluding chapters address the current debates between nations. A thorough bibliography with a helpful listing of web sites is an added resource. Offering an extensive historical perspective on global warming, this book is an excellent addition to any science collection.Trisha Stevenson, New York Univ. Medical Ctr., Sch. of Medicine Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Imagine a book that reads like a novel while wending its way through 200 years of prescient thought and astounding reality. Accepting the premise that enhanced global warming is being realized at an accelerating rate, Christianson chronicles the sequential great steps in human interpretation and exploitation of planet Earth by casting in vivid detail 1) the time travelers; 2) the world eaters; and 3) dwellers in the crystal palace. Beginning with the French natural philosopher Jean Fourier and ending with Charles Darwin, the time voyagers successfully integrate time into Earth's climatic, geologic, and biologic evolution. Fourier's 1824 published thoughts on the atmosphere's greenhouse effect were followed by Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) opus on biological evolution; then came a period of intense consumption of fossil fuels and materials. The fine line between flourishing and failing is dramatically illustrated throughout this factual partial biography of global warming. Readers are reminded in the last chapter that the unsolved mystery remains. The style and content of this book engage the reader in every sentence, while beholders can draw their own conclusions. All levels. R. M. Ferguson; Eastern Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Part 1 The Time Travelers
1. The Guillotine and the Bell Jarp. 3
2. The Cryptic Mothp. 13
3. "Endless and as Nothing"p. 24
Part 2 The World Eaters
4. "Quest for the Black Diamond"p. 39
5. Cleopatra's Needlesp. 54
6. Vulcan's Anvilp. 66
7. The Phantom of the Open Hearthp. 75
8. "The Dynamo and the Virgin"p. 92
Part 3 The Dwellers in the Crystal Palace
9. Native Sonp. 105
10. "Never a Man"p. 116
11. Thresholdp. 135
12. A Tap on the Shoulderp. 145
13. Pendulump. 158
14. A Death in the Amazonp. 172
15. The Climatic Flywheelp. 192
16. Cassandra's Listenersp. 210
17. Signs and Portentsp. 222
18. Scenariosp. 235
19. Kyotop. 254
Codap. 269
Bibliographyp. 279
Acknowledgmentsp. 293
Indexp. 295