Usable Thoughts: Climate, Water and Weather in the Twenty-first Century

Sample Chapter
  • Michael H. Glantz and Qian Ye

    Related Documents
    ISBN-10: 928081186X,
    ISBN-13: 9789280811865
    United Nations University Press
    December 2009

    Short quotations are often used to stimulate thought and evoke discussion. The intention of this book is no less ambitious. Drawing upon a series of quotations taken from the World Meteorological Organization-sponsored publication, Climate: Into the 21st Century, the authors set out to encourage thought and discussion on the earth’s climate system, including its interrelatedness to human society and the environment, the impact of climate variability, and climate extremes and change.

    Michael H. Glantz is Director of the Consortium for Capacity Building in the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. Qian Ye is a Research Scientist in the Consortium for Capacity Building at the University of Colorado, and a Research Associate at Beijing Normal University, China.

    Table of contents


    • Rates and processes of a changing climate: The year 2020 is the new 2050

    Our Perceptions of Climate

    • A century of discovery
    • What is climate?
    • The challenge of measuring global climate
    • Climate patterns
    • Implications of variability
    • Where people live
    • What people think about their climate
    • The possible impact of human activities
    • Our increasing vulnerability
    • Changing sensitivity to climate
    • Climate from historical accounts
    • Twentieth century climate change

    The Climate System

    • Our knowledge of climate
    • Which events matter
    • Learning by experience; exploiting new technologies
    • Northern middle latitude winter storms
    • Drought and dust
    • Understanding tropical cyclones
    • Trends in tropical cyclone numbers
    • El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
    • Drought in Africa
    • Human effects on climate: Urbanization
    • Human effects on climate: Greenhouse gases
    • Human effects on climate: Atmospheric particulates
    • Human effects on climate: Deforestation and desertification
    • Human effects on climate: Ozone layer depletion

    Impacts of a Varying Climate

    • Suffering and costs
    • The impacts of climate fluctuations
    • Learning from experience
    • Climate and biodiversity
    • Weather, climate and warfare
    • Major temperate zone droughts
    • Storm surges
    • Tropical storms
    • Sahel – the human consequences
    • Sahel – the nature of desertification
    • Floods around the world
    • ENSO – impact on agriculture
    • Other ENSO impacts
    • Heatwaves
    • Exceptional weather and climate events
    • Freshwater: Life’s precious resource

    Climate for a Better Society

    • The rise of technology
    • Climate knows no boundaries
    • Serving society’s needs
    • Tracking climate
    • Predicting the seasons
    • Food and fibre production
    • Energy and society
    • The earth’s freshwater resources
    • Seeking answers on climate change

    The Century Ahead

    • Immediate challenges
    • Adapting to future change
    • Protecting the planet and its people
    • Future surprises

    Concluding Thoughts

    • The Limits to Growth and The Kyoto Protocol: The need for “tipping point” assessments.