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Earth: The Operators' Manual

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  58 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Since the discovery of fire, humans have been energy users and always will be. And this is a good thing-our mastery of energy is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom and has allowed us to be the dominant species on the planet. However, this mastery comes with a price: we are changing our environment in a profoundly negative way by heating it up.

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Hardcover, 496 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Jul 02, 2016 Blair rated it really liked it

The Book is Better than the Title

"Earth: The Operators’ Manual". I would have ignored a book with such pretensions if I were not already familiar with the writing of the highly qualified author, Richard B. Alley. That would have been unfortunate, as I think this is the best introductory book on climate science I have encountered. His experience communicating with his students, politicians and the general public shows in his ability to explain complex subjects with simple language and well chosen
Frederik Van de Perre
Jul 12, 2016 Frederik Van de Perre rated it did not like it
I have to credit the author for providing (possible) solutions for climate change. It is however a pity that his important message was packed in such a tedious book. Although the author tried to write in a pleasant, active way, the overabundance of technical details make it (and I'm sorry to say this)... a boring read.

Alley is a geologist at Pennsylvania State University who was done work in Greenland taking ice cores from the glaciers. These ice cores have layers in them that can be dated. The chemical composition of the ice, and of air trapped in bubbles in the ice can provide information on the climate and atmospheric composition thousands of years ago.

This book, a tie-in to a televison series, is about climate change. The book is roughly divided into two parts: evidence for climate change, and what to

Dakota Lucht
Mar 04, 2016 Dakota Lucht rated it it was amazing
Earth: The Operator's Manual by Richard B. Halley provides an engaging yet informative overview of the globe from our (humanity's) viewpoint. Transitioning from one story to another, alongside concrete scientific evidence, Halley travels through the history of energy use throughout the world, offers comprehensive, doubt - eliminating proof that high and rising levels of CO2 in our atmosphere are causing global warming, and finally finishing with a range of energy options available to us today. H ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Gabriela rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, history
Part I and II explain why CO2 is the main driver of global warming, and the science that's behind this statement. I think it does a really good job at exposing the science and the scientific process behind climate change, and what science sources we should trust and more importantly why.

Part III, which was the part I was most excited about, fell a bit short. I was expecting a more in depth description of the technologies/processes available for CO2 management/remediation, alternative energy sou
Brett Hinton
Nov 01, 2012 Brett Hinton rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The book was okay. It was pretty technical in its explanation about global warming and attempts to convince skeptics of why the production of CO2 is at the heart of climate change and that climate change is really happening. The last half or third of the book was dedicated to discussing strategies for the future. This is the part I was most excited about and it did only an ok job. I thought Dr. Alley was far less rigorous in his examination of possible remedies than he was in his treatment of wh ...more
Aug 11, 2011 Justin rated it it was amazing
Another strong survey of the current state of climate science, giving context to important elements of history and society. A highlight is the compelling analogy of fairly urgent action stemming from the then new science of epidemiology and the need for effective public sanitation works. Just like climate action now, that was a substantial shift in society, opposed by vested interests and predicted by some to ruin the economy. It didn't. Whole new industries came into being, such as plumbing and ...more
A large part of this book was about convincing the reader that climate change is real and since I am already convinced, it was more or less wasted on me.
But despite that, I think it succeded in getting the point across - we can switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy and we will have to.
Another thing that is really good about this book is that Alley can throw numbers around, but it still doesn't get hard to read.
Oct 15, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The second part of this book was fantastic!! I really enjoyed it and understood it. I found the first part a little tedious and sometimes over my head. As someone who's very concerned about global warming, I feel a little more optimistic after reading the second half of the book. Now if we could just get those darn politicians to read it and act on the suggestions!!

I found "Fixing Climate" much more readable, but this book incorporates new research that has come out since then.
Apr 29, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Companion book to recent PBS documentary series. Explains the recent discoveries of climatology lucidly and thoroughly. A good book for anybody who wants to become more literate in these fields.
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Richard B. Alley is a professor of geology at Penn State University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was a member of the UN climate change committee that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
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