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The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  21 reviews
'The Emerald Planet' reveals the crucial role that plants have played in driving & recording climatic change. The book provides an important perspective on the controversial & crucial subject of global warming - for we can only understand climate change by looking into the distant past, long before the rise of humankind.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 22nd 2007)
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Oh earth you fox of a planet! If you have read Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis then you might enjoy this more orthodox account of the relationship between Earth's climate and the action of plants. It turns out those naughty plants have repeatedly kicked the planet out of climate equilibrium by monkeying around with atmospheric CO2 levels.

So basically, climate change will be just fine: During the Eocene climatic optimum there were no polar icecaps, and there were forests on Antarctica. In the short te
Lois Bujold
Oct 23, 2014 Lois Bujold rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers already grounded in botany looking for climate connections.
Recommended to Lois by: found on a "people who liked that other book you just read liked this" list.
Dratted Goodreads just ate my review... try again.

Well, hm. Not quite the book I was looking for.

This was more of a scattered grab-bag, which did include interesting recent news on plant and atmospheric science and some good history of scientists, but it lacked... cumulative narrative flow? The writing was good on a section-by-section basis, but putting it all together was more of a do-it-yourself project than I was quite on for.

I'd wanted something to give me a round-up of all that is currentl
Over all an excellent book. Beerling’s style of writing makes this book accessible to everyone. He is clear and concise which reminded me of the no nonsense approach of journal articles. In some places this means a humorous remark or observation reads awkwardly.
There were a couple of parts of the book that I felt deviated from plants for a little too long. The fact I was left thinking “Get on with the plant stuff already” is a credit to Beerling and his ability to draw the reader into a subject
Filipe Dias
A subject I never gave much attention to, plants. They don't appear to share the thrill of learning about animals and so I guess that for most people they're no more than scenery, food or just the home for animals.
I used to see them like that, as 2nd class beings after animals, and so after watching the BBC series "How to grow a planet", very much based on this wonderful book, I was dumbstruck and had to know more.
The book itself is simple, not many details that would be too specific to understa
Last Ranger
The Climate Puzzle!

For me The Emerald Planet contained all the elements necessary for a good science book. One, it was written by a working scientist: Paleoclimatologist David Beerling who has published papers in some leading scientific journals as well as another book on this same general subject (but that one is priced way out of my budget). I found his writing to be readily accessible to the interested layman. Botany and its effect on the climate are the main theme but Beerling also touches o
While this is a very informative book, it wasn't quite what I expected and as a result I found I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I could have. I was expecting a book about how plants have evolved and how this has affected the planet's history and climate and while Beerling does cover this to a certain extent the main thrust of the book was more about the effects plants have had on everything else and how these discoveries were made. Don't get me wrong, this is very well written, well researched ...more
I found this fascinating as most books on the history of the planet focus on people or dinosaurs. This is not a history of plants per se, but more a discussion of what plant fossils tell us about the history of the atmosphere, although plant evolution is discussed along the way. It was interesting to learn that at one time the level of carbon dioxide was much higher and at another time the oxygen level was much higher. This is discussed in the context of our current global warming.
Minor complain
OK, I'll admit to previously being very anti-plants. They've never been my thing; I've always been much more interested in the big, spectacular aspects of geology than any aspect of biology. However, this book has definitely converted me. After reading many earth science books recently, this was a fresh and exciting look on palaeoclimates and using the fossil record in ways I wasn't aware of. It also introduced me to events I knew very little (or nothing) about. I found the first chapter a littl ...more
Martin Hayes
Well written and accessible to the non-scientist, so long as you have a good general knowledge.
Daniel Hulmes
Giving this book a 2 star review feels a little harsh as it's very interesting in parts and covers a subject which is largely ignored by popular science. However, I just couldn't get into it. I expected a book on plant evolution but the book is more concerned with how plants have altered the earths atmosphere throughout geological time. It is therefore of more interest to Paleontologists and geologists than to a student of Biology such as myself.
Beerling makes science interesting to read. He doesn't just state scientific facts, but instead describes the history and methods behind scientific discoveries. He does a good job of explaining "how" throughout the book, so it is appropriate that this word is in the title. For instance, ancient animals and plants were huge. But why? Beerling describes how scientists gathered information to answer this question.
Claudia Piña
Aunque no es un tema que suela buscar en libros, resultó muy interesante, en especial porque la historia de las plantas no suele verse como algo particularmente emocionante. Pero lo es. Al menos después de los primeros capítulos, que no son tan buenos y me costó mucho concentrarme en ellos.
Mandy Haggith
A really good, in-depth explanation of plant evolution and the impact plants have had on the planet.
Accessible but still informative book, which covers a rather overshadowed group of organisms; plants. Lots of interesting insights into the plant world and the evolution of plants in general.
Valerie Suwanseree
Very well written but not quite what I expected. I am not that fascinated with the Earth's ancient history, although I probably should be
Daniel Hill
Excellent account of what might at first glance seem quite an esoteric subject matter. Having read it you may look differently at the plants in the garden and especially the lawn!
Oct 02, 2008 Demetra is currently reading it
Brilliant writing. This book changed how I saw the plant and mineral kingdoms. The writer is a sort of an Indiana Jones of the paleobotany community.
Steve Mitchell
It's such a refreshing change to read a book on evolution that skims the animals and concentrates on the plants.
Stephen Palmer
Fascinating, erudite, readable. Highly recommended.
watch out, its brainy.
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“The great evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane (1892-1964), on being asked by a cleric what biology could say about the Creator, entertainingly replied, 'I'm really not sure, except that the Creator, if he exists, must have an inordinate fondness of beetles.” 0 likes
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