Books

REVIEWS FOR LIFE IN THE HOTHOUSE

“A highly entertaining yet superbly informative look at Earth's climate and its intricate dance with life, including us.” 

—  Kerry Emanuel, author, Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes

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(For scholars and other readers interested in footnotes, this link shares additional references that informed the book’s content.)

Chapter 1. A Feverish Response:

Hurricanes come with High Temperatures

Life in the Hothouse
HOW A LIVING PLANET SURVIVES CLIMATE CHANGE 

Our living planet has been through hot times before when greenhouse gas levels were high. Comparing earlier hothouses and past ice ages to our climate of today can help us gauge what’s in store for the near future, if we continue adding heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

 

The higher temperatures that come with higher greenhouse gas levels spur on stronger hurricanes and bigger floods. The news is not all bad, though. Evidence from the past also highlights that forests and wetlands expanded during warmer times and contracted during ice ages. It turns out that bigger hurricanes, floods and forests – including the wooded wetlands known as swamps – play crucial roles in keeping the planet suitable for life.

 

These findings make sense in the context of Gaia theory, which maintains that the living Earth has some means for regulating its temperature. Of course, the premise assumes the planet and its natural systems have leeway to respond to climate changes. Yet humans have claimed much of the Earth’s surface for farms and factories, cars and cities. This, in turn, affects air, land and sea, as well as society. Can the planet's regulatory system function under these conditions?

 

After describing the complexities of some of the planet’s temperature moderating skills, the author suggests how people can fit into the regulatory system in ways that will promote life’s continuation. The findings suggest that the more the planet can count on forests and wetlands to moderate climate, the less it will need to employ hurricanes and floods to cool off.

 

The good news is, the same practices that make the Earth more resilient to global warming also make conditions better on the surface, where the world’s many species, including humans, live.

Global Warming in the Southwest 
PROJECTIONS, OBSERVATIONS AND IMPACTS

(global warming in sw text goes here) greenhouse gas levels were high. Comparing earlier hothouses and past ice ages to our climate of today can help us gauge what’s in store for the near future, if we continue adding heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

 

The higher temperatures that come with higher greenhouse gas levels spur on stronger hurricanes and bigger floods. The news is not all bad, though. Evidence from the past also highlights that forests and wetlands expanded during warmer times and contracted during ice ages. It turns out that bigger hurricanes, floods and forests – including the wooded wetlands known as swamps – play crucial roles in keeping the planet suitable for life.

 

These findings make sense in the context of Gaia theory, which maintains that the living Earth has some means for regulating its temperature. Of course, the premise assumes the planet and its natural systems have leeway to respond to climate changes. Yet humans have claimed much of the Earth’s surface for farms and factories, cars and cities. This, in turn, affects air, land and sea, as well as society. Can the planet's regulatory system function under these conditions?

Melanie Lenart discussed her recent book, Life in the Hothouse: How A Living Planet Survives Climate Change, at the Tucson Festival of Bookson March 12 as part of a panel called Hot Times: Can Nature Survive Us? 

Other panelists were Laura Lopez-Hoffman, author of Conservation of Shared Environments, and Mitch Tobin, author of Endangered. The authors talked about their findings and took questions from the audience.

Gary Dillard of Focus on Bisbee interviews Melanie Lenart during a December 10, 2010, show that coincided with her book-signing event at Atalanta's Music and Books in Bisbee.

Girls Making Media features Life in the Hothouse

Here are some wonderful videos about Life in the Hothouse done by Margaret McKay as the interviewer and Angel Hudson on camera. Both were participating in a Girls Making Media program in Tucson, with guidance from mentor Quynn Elizabeth.

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University of Arizona Press
Amazon.com

© 2017 by Melanie Lenart