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The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
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The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,826 ratings  ·  178 reviews
Sometime this century the day will arrive when the human influence on the climate will overwhelm all other natural factors. Over the past decade, the world has seen the most powerful El Niño ever recorded, the most devastating hurricane in two hundred years, the hottest European summer on record, and one of the worst storm seasons ever experienced in Florida. With one out...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 27th 2006 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Dhitri
This book should be considered a climate change "classic": it excellently elaborate the science behind the climate-regulating functions of the Earth's atmosphere, the delicate balance of it and how human's thirst for growth is threatening to destroy that balance, with catastrophic consequences. The book covers many facets of the issue, from the science to the politics, which makes it a one stop shop for all things climate change.

Flannery's writing is beautiful and lucid: it is infused with a ro...more
James
Heatwaves, hurricanes, flooding, drought, extinction. No-one can accuse Tim Flannery of understating the effects of global warming. And there's no doubting his passion for the subject. Once sceptical about climate change, he's now a fully-paid up member of the global warming warning brigade. His chapter headings alone - "Peril at the Poles", "The Carbon Dictatorship", "Boiling the Abyss" - signal that he's nailed his colours to the mast. And those colours are all green.

Not so long ago, climate c...more
Mike
Although the last thing most people need is another 'downer' book about how the climate is spiraling out of control towards disaster, this book manages to deliver more science than opinion and actually offers some reasonable tips on how we can still make a difference if we take the right steps.
Guy
If, like most people, you have been drifting along, vaguely aware that there might be something called global warming and that it might have some not so good consequences, but you haven't really taken the time to work out how serious it is and whether or not it is something that you could or should do something about... then do yourself, the rest of us, and the animals and plants with which we share the world a favor and read this book. It is short, easy to understand, based on personal experien...more
Steve
This book is excellent and terrifying. Tim Flannery is a working Australian scientist (mammologist & paleontologist) -- not a journalist -- who lays out the history and science of climate change, likely scenarios for the future, the politics of climate change (both good and bad), and at the very end, provides a manifesto for ways to reduce our carbon output individually. The species he studies have been deeply impacted by climate changes to date, which means that global warming is not just s...more
Peter
A lucid overview, though it definitely zooms around a lot, in time, space and in its considerations of the different facets of the climate change problem. Two specific comments:

Was interesting to see how much Flannery quotes Alfred Russel Wallace, of The Malay Archipelago The land of the orang-utan and the bird of paradise a narrative of travel with studies of man and nature. I've never read later Wallace, understanding that his later works devolve into weird late-Victorian spiritualism. But Fl...more
Sheila
Thought provoking, easy to read book with a compelling history of the climate changes around the globe. This book was more comprehensive than I thought it would be.

I am not a scientist. Before reading this book I kind of understood the terms “greenhouse effect”, “global warming”, etc. After reading this book I feel like I truly understand these terms and so much more about our climate and all the factors that influence it.

Flannery notes what is being done now and by whom – which countries are m...more
Samuel Polacek
A great layman summary of the evidence that is suggestive of global climate change, with an even more cursory argument for why we can still be optimistic if we act now.

I found tidbits very interesting - there was evidence presented I had not heard about before. But most of it was not quite in depth enough for my taste. A perfect introduction for someone who knows nothing about global warming, and a cursory understanding (if any) of the physical sciences.
Rob
A good general introduction to climate change. Even though it is now a few years old it still holds up well. Flannery writes succinctly and well about a difficult scientific subject.
His section on the sheer impossibility on carbon sequestration for instance is a joy to read. Not a word wasted and the coal industry fantasy is shot down in flames.

Vikram
Aug 02, 2011 Vikram added it
I learned one thing from this book - that humans have a great capacity to mess up the environment through their actions. Two examples from the book stand out, the first is the depletion of the ozone layer from CFCs. Flannery states that if action hadn't been taken when it was, then we would be in far worse shape then we are now. He mentions that we were lucky bromine was not used in air fresheners and whatnot as it has a far greater rate of destroying ozone. Gave me chills. The other example was...more
Mark
This book has given me nightmares twice. Not like, wake up crying run to mommy nightmares, but dark things, like oceans filled with shiet and dark skies that never brighten.

That's not a great recommendation, but I do highly recommend this book because it finally puts all the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that the layman like myself can readily grasp -- you no longer have to take their word for it that CO2 is rising and driving global warming (like in "An Inconvenient Truth"). It's there...more
Ben
Aug 15, 2012 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Ben by: My aunt Rho.
Summary: A call to arms to combat the drivers of man made climate change. The author contextualises the issue quite well and urges everyone to take action before the impacts outstrip our ability to cope.

Things I liked:

Structure: The first section contextualises the issue; second section makes the argument that things are pretty bad and getting worse; the third section provides some angles on actions that can be taken and provides additional detail and supporting arguments. The structure works...more
Troy
The Weather Makers is a great read and an important book for people who wish to gain a little more insight into the details of climate change. Flannery does a wonderful job separating topics into short, interesting chapters that hold the reader's attention throughout the book.

This was especially interesting to read 6 years after it was published because Flannery does make some short term predictions about the state of the Earth's climate. He notes the current (2005) price of oil at $40 per barr...more
A Mulford
This is a good introductory book on climate change. Flannery was originally a skeptic about climate change. While Flannery doesn't engage in the usual fear-mongering associated with climate change (along the lines of predicting a massive rise in sea levels in the next hundred years or so), there are startling examples of how some species are already succumbing to changes in the climate based on latitude and even altitude. There are also some startling facts about how little additional carbon dio...more
Ted
Humanity is at (or has already passed) an historical crossroads. By the end of the 21st century (possibly by the middle of it) enormous changes in the earth's climate and ecosystems will have precipitated equally momentous changes in human society, our economic systems, and in civilization itself.

My personal list of writers who have made significant contributions to the scientific, environmental and societal aspects of what we are heading for include people such as Lester R. Brown, Bill McKibben...more
Jeanne
Flannery wrote The Weather Makers to address three main issues. He wanted to give an overview of the history of climate change, illustrate how it will continue to change over the next century and discuss what we can do to affect those changes. In this well-developed and accessible book, Flannery lays out his claim and issues a challenge to his readers.

Divided into five main sections, Flannery uses short chapters to advance the reader’s understanding of climate change. While the language is not “...more
Mcgyver5
Tim Flannery is a mammologist and paleontologist who has studied ecosystems around the world. Coming from that background, it isn't surprising that much of the book focuses on the impacts to sensitive ecosystems as the climate changes. He helps us see the big picture by extrapolating beyond the impacts he's seen in his sensitive ecosystems. It isn't pretty.
Every sentence of this book is more dire than the last. I don’t know how he did it. I’ve heard of a kind of Japanese art that involves lookin...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The arguments, evidence, and conclusions should surprise few readers in Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe and Flannery's The Weather Makers. Given existing scientific knowledge, neither author (and no critic) doubts that global warming is real, with terrible consequences looming ahead.<P>The difference between the books largely comes down to tone and style. Kolbert, a reporter for the New Yorker, provides an excellent primer on climate change. Praised for her elegance and accessibil

...more
Jenwah
Aug 27, 2007 Jenwah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
A well written, scientifically-based description of climate change. Flannery writes beautifully, keeping the reader engaged as he explains some of the science, uncertainties and dangers of climate change. Definitely a nice way to digest the info if you're a non-scientist. A nice reminder to scientists on how to communicate the science to others. And--EVERYONE should be familiar with these issues, the first environmental problem on a truely global scale. A scary issue because we don't see all the...more
Amanda
I read this book for the Common Reading Experience Committee, and I think it's a great book selection for the common read and one that I would recommend to readers interested in the environment.

Like Field Notes by Kolbert, this book tackles the issue of global warming by providing background info, but Weather Makers is much more personable. Flannery gives his own impressions on global warming and its history AND proposes possible solutions to global warming. Kolbert's Field Notes was a saturati...more
Edward
Parts of this book were fascinating - the disappearance of the "golden toads" in Costa Rica, for example. Or that the United States has the most varied weather of any country on earth, and India the least varied. but like Al Gore, a little goes a long way, and by the end of the book, while I found myself totally convinced that man is indeed changing the climate of the earth and not for the better, I felt frustrated, too. How will all of this global warming and weather-changing turn out? Yes, the...more
Jami
Wow. There was a TON of information in this book. Some of it I have retained, but much more is lost, I am sorry to say. I have to admit, this was probably not a good choice for an audiobook. It's easy to miss something and then you're completely confused as to what he's talking about; however, on the positive side, the voice is mesmerizing. It's such a lovely Australian purr that also helps endear the words to my ear. Getting back to the premise of the whole thing, this is an important read, fil...more
Sonia Lavadinho
Jul 29, 2014 Sonia Lavadinho rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: géographes, urbanistes, sociologues, décideurs politiques
Un livre décisif, qui fait comprendre plus que tout autre les défis posés par le changement climatique, notre intime responsabilité et les leviers que nous devons actionner pour y faire face.
Si vous voulez continuer tranquillement à dormir les yeux ouverts sur la tempête qui se profile à l'horizon, alors ne le lisez pas.
Truly awakening!
Thomas
[excerpt from review of "The Winds of Change" by Eugene Linden and "Field Notes from a Catastrophe" by Elizabeth Kolbert:

Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, which also came out at the same time, is way more interesting, way more original, and way more inflammatory to boot. Amusingly, given that he's a scientist and the other two are writers, Flannery's book is much better written, but also plays more loosely with the line between what is known and not known. I'd recommend Kolbert for a primer on...more
Merrily
Jun 09, 2007 Merrily is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book is scaring me, as it should be! It is about the end of the world as we know it with out ducking any punches or taking shortcuts. The author lays each piece of the puzzle about global warming out brilliantly, succinctly and in layman's terms. Clearly, nothing else is going to matter if we don't do something. All of us should know these facts, for all of us will pay the price. More than that, those without a human voice will pay as well, many species, the most vulnerable, already have pa...more
Karen
This is an engaging read and also a call to action to all of us to start being more aware of how we are abusing our planet and the role that humanity has played in creating a dire situation for the future of both the Earth and the plant and animal life, including humans, that inhabit it. Most chapters feature more doom and gloom than concrete solutions, but there are practical suggestions on how we can modify our behaviour to have less of an impact on the environment, and also some glimmers of h...more
Jason Barnhart
Jun 04, 2007 Jason Barnhart rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Just read this book for a secon time. It isn't often that a book truly honestly frightens you. This book is a little terrifying. I am a fan of gothic horror... I likr that element of psychological terror where the protagonist is in a situation they can't control and has to muddle through.

This book illustrates the current state of our world's ecology and gives a realistic sense of the looming train wreck ahead of us. That sense of fear one gets from gothic horror fiction permeates this decidedly...more
Emily
Covers an astonishing breadth of scientific information, mostly fairly well explained for the layman without being condescending. I felt it was somewhat scattered in its presentation and occasionally crossed the line into sensationalism. Would have liked a more thorough section on what actions individuals can take (besides writing our elected representatives) - it seemed like the book set us up for all these horrible things that can happen because of climate change, but all the things that need...more
Andrew Saul
Simply excellent. I don't why it took me so long to read this book, it's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages. It's frightening to be sure when someone like Flannery calmly and simply lays out what we know now about climate change and it's causes. The evidence is pretty stark, but he makes sure to balance that constantly with all those things we don't know, and situations which may turn out for the better rather than the worse.

But the message is clear: it's too bigger risk not to do something,...more
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Tim Flannery is one of Australia's leading thinkers and writers.

An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, he has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers and many books. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and in 2006 won the NSW Premiers Literary Prizes for B...more
More about Tim Flannery...
The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums, and Penis Gourds Here On Earth: An Argument For Hope

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“As long as scepticism is based on a sound understanding of science it is invaluable, for that is how science progresses. But poor criticism can lead those who are unfamiliar with the science involved into doubting everything about climate change predictions.” 6 likes
“One of the biggest obstacles to making a start on climate change is that it has become a cliche before it has even been understood” 4 likes
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