Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

Book Review: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States
Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, editors. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. 2009. $50.00. 192 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0521144070

By M. J. Simpson

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United StatesGlobal climate change is becoming an increasingly important factor in the management of air, water, and soil resources, as well as the long-term sustainability of our environment. Numerous scientists from diverse disciplines are currently studying various aspects of global climate change. In order to elucidate a more holistic understanding of the ramifications of climate change, recent efforts have been made to synthesize and combine these results.

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States brings together various lines of evidence from both government reports and journal publications to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the science of climate change and future impacts in the United States. The book summarizes the major findings from the United States Global Change Research Program but also integrates pertinent research results from many different international studies (e.g., reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).


The premise of the book is that “warming of the climate is unequivocal,” and the science behind this warming is clearly presented. The book is nicely organized into various sections on global and national climate change. The two introductory chapters provide an overview of the basic science behind climate change. The next section highlights the science behind climate change impacts to various sectors, including Water Resources, Energy Supply and Use, Transportation, Agriculture, Ecosystems, Human Health, and Society.

Within each of these sections, practical examples are given that help the reader directly relate to the impacts of climate change. The later part of the book focuses on regional impacts in the United States. Again, practical examples are given along with projections for future climate change impacts.

The book is well organized and well written, and the scientific content is presented in a clear and concise manner. Each section begins with “Key Messages,” which succinctly list the important facts pertaining to climate change. These facts are presented in a bullet point format, allowing the reader to quickly appreciate the scientific content of each section and grasp the main message stemming from years of scientific research.

The book is filled with high-quality visual aids in the form of graphs, maps, illustrations, and photographs. These aids, combined with the scientific summaries, emphasize climate change impacts in the various sectors and make the content of this book easy to follow, understand, and appreciate.

I highly recommend this book to anyone working in any aspect of climate change science. It is suitable for undergraduate and graduate students as well as senior researchers in both academia and government. Natural resource managers, engineers, and environmental consultants will also find this book useful. College and university teachers who are delivering courses in environmental, water, soil, and/or atmospheric sciences will find the carefully crafted figures and photographs to be excellent teaching tools.

Although the main focus of the book is on impacts in the United States, the content will be of interest to all because the fundamental science pertains to other regions of the globe and many global issues are discussed.


Book Review: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States
Source: Journal of Environmental Quality 2011 40:279-279

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