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Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

A bold, far-reaching look at how our actions will decide the planet’s future for millennia to come.

Imagine a planet where North American and Eurasian navies are squaring off over shipping lanes through an acidified, ice-free Arctic. Centuries later, their northern descendants retreat southward as the recovering sea freezes ove
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Andrea McDowell
Jan 15, 2016 Andrea McDowell rated it it was ok
Shelves: green, science
Well. Where do I begin.

On the plus side, Stager is obviously enormously qualified to discuss his own field of expertise, climates and ecosystems in the very distant past. These discussions were informative and fascinating and if he occassionally delved a bit too deeply into the minutia he can be forgiven for it.

However. "Too optimistic" does not really begin to describe the book's major failings, which is his utter failure to treat any global warming subject that didn't fit neatly into his "it'
Ben Babcock
I’ve always held that the Sun is out to get us. Oh, sure, it plays the role of life-giver, showering the Earth in energy and heat necessary for life. Yet too much time in the Sun leaves us open to cancer. And in a little under five billion years, the Sun, in its senescence, will expand to engulf our planet. Before that happens, however, its expansion will have already scorched the surface and rendered the Earth uninhabitable. So pack your bags now, people. We might have as little as a billion ye ...more
Lianne Burwell
Aug 09, 2012 Lianne Burwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth is an interesting look at climate change. For one thing, instead of just looking at what will happen in the next hundred years or so, it actually looks at things like how long it will take to restore the climate after that. It also refrains from a lot of the hand-wringing, extreme predictions that make people run away with their fingers in their ears singing "lalalala".

It also look at what the world might be like by looking through geologic hi
Jul 21, 2013 Rhys rated it it was ok
Deep Future was interesting when the author stuck to his expertise. Avoiding the next one or two ice ages was fascinating, as was the description of the science backing our knowledge of the deep past.

When the author, however, tried to talk about the present, he seemed confused. Clearly he wanted to present himself as the objective scientist walking the Golden Mean, and clearly he did not want to be considered an 'activist, alarmist and ecofreak' nor a 'skeptic, denier, or naysayer'. Fair enough,
Gilda Felt
Mar 26, 2014 Gilda Felt rated it liked it
Though the information was thorough, I thought it was unnecessarily flippant. In an area where drought has already taken hold, the author cheerily announces that the area's people's descendants will have plenty of water—hundreds of years in the future. What the people are supposed to drink in the meanwhile, isn't addressed. In several places the same issue is "resolved" in the same manner. One need only wait a few centuries or millennium and things will be just fine. Taking that approach, why bo ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Sep 10, 2016 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Ignoring the climate changes of the past, the author projects his version of what the planet Earth will be like in 100,000 years. He is a member of the global warming school of thought.
Jeff Crunk
Jan 02, 2013 Jeff Crunk rated it really liked it
How should we respond to our carbon crisis? Stripped down to its essence, Carl Stager's answer is a simple “don't panic.” Deep Future is an optimistic read on climate. Civilization will adapt to a future world of our inadvertent remaking. It's a thesis that puts Stager in opposition to the renowned climate activist Bill McKibben, whose career has been founded on the environmental declension narrative. Unlike McKibben, who insists the wolf of climate instability is beyond the door and in the livi ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Melissa rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who have some understanding of climate science
The title of this is highly reminiscent of a book published 25 years ago by Jonathan Weiner, "The Next Hundred Years: Shaping the Fate of Our Living Earth". In fact, I did a double take when I saw the book, thinking it might have been the latter.

Weiner's book was among the first to alert us to the looming threat of climate change. In it, he chronicled the pioneering work of Charles Keeling, whose obsession of tracking atmospheric CO2 was the first inkling of the rapid changes occurring in the b
Mar 06, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it
Curt Stager, a paleoecologist, has assembled a book well worth reading if you are interested in or concerned about global climate change. Probably the most imporant thing this book adds to the body of scientific literature that addresses issues of climate change is that of "deep time". "Deep time" refers to expansive lengths of time needed to envision both earth's history and its future. These are time frames most people do not deal with or consider on a regular basis, and so have a difficult ti ...more
Bradley Jarvis
Dec 31, 2012 Bradley Jarvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The title of this book suggests that it is a narrative of the next 100,000 years, but it is more of a discussion of HOW we know what we do about this subject. Its author is an expert in the ecosystems of the distant past and how climate has influenced life. That experience is on full display as he walks through relevant analogs to the present geological epoch, the "Anthropocene" or Age of Humans, and shares what experts in other fields have to say about how present-day species (including our own ...more
Alex Telander
Mar 19, 2011 Alex Telander rated it liked it
The only people who haven’t come to accept the fact that global warming and climate change is happening are those who are not facing reality, deluding themselves; and while many of us have ideas, thoughts and concepts of what climate change may bring over the next century, Deep Future goes one giant step further for Earth. Curt Stager is an ecologist, paleoclimatologist and science journalist, who has written for National Geographic and Science magazine. In Deep Future he goes into detail on wha ...more
Feb 23, 2014 John rated it really liked it
Curt Stager, author of "Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth" (2011) jumps head-first into an obviously controversial subject area. So he can be forgiven if he builds his case with extreme care, documenting the known and the unknown future effects of global warming, atmospheric carbon buildup, cumulative human pollution, sea level rise, and the long-term consequences on the planet and on the human race.

He examines the scientific record, and probes meticulously for possible inaccu
Jan 19, 2016 Idiosyncratic rated it really liked it
In reading this book, the word "sanguine" came to mind. But, given that the word implies some optimism, I guess I'd simply have to go for the word "neutral". Stager has little time for hand-wringing over the future of humanity -which he doesn't really seem to think about very deeply. Fair enough. His viewpoint is the big, BIG picture. Geologic changes come and go, weather comes and goes, species populations (including human) come and go, some things get better and some things get worse. There is ...more
Edward H. Busse, III
Feb 15, 2013 Edward H. Busse, III rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-owned
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book - I desperately hoped that it wasn't going to "preach" to me about global warming, greenhouse gases, polar ice caps melting, etc. I was pleasantly surprised. The author - Dr. Curt Stager - did a very, very nice job of laying out the scientific foundations for our current climatic conditions and, using historical reference points across a broad spectrum of 'ologys (Geology, Paleoanthropology, Marine Biology, etc), gives us an excellent and detail ...more
Leo Knight
May 09, 2014 Leo Knight rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Paleoclimatologist Curt Stager offers a view of past climate change, and projects current trends into the future. He accepts climate change caused by man as a given, even using the term Anthropocene, or epoch of man, for our current geologic period.

My grasp of past climate changes had been hazy. Stager gives a good deal of information. However, I had a lot of difficulty with his tone and organization. He jumps around in time from the end of the last ice age, further back to the beginning of that
Chris Aylott
Sep 23, 2011 Chris Aylott rated it really liked it
A paleoclimatologist presents a deep dive into how the Earth's climate is shifting and what it might look like over a very long period of time. This is less about describing the world of the future and more about explaining the various mechanisms affecting it, starting with carbon dioxide levels and working outward to changes in temperature, ocean chemistry and rainfall.

I find the science fascinating, and oddly reassuring. On the one hand, the die is already cast. Carbon dioxide levels will cont
Aug 25, 2016 Phil rated it really liked it
This is a very well-written book split into logical sections. Reading it 8 years after publication it comes across as a little dated and laid back. Curt Stager doesn't seem to think climate change is as urgent as the media seem to say, he believes humans will live on for millennia and ride the rides of new climate regimes. That approach aside its a fascinating and in-depth look at the possible future states the climate will move into, with great examples from the past he paints a vivid picture o ...more
Lisa Eskra
Apr 21, 2011 Lisa Eskra rated it it was amazing
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a book that purports to predict the next 100,000 years of climate change on Earth. I thought it would be an alarmist view -- a wake-up call per-say -- but I found Stager's position balanced and reasonable. He backs up his theories with hard data and studies, resulting in a well-argued and believable portrayal of the future. I enjoyed the book and will definitely use it as a reference.

Some have complained that the book reads too much like a textbook, and fo
Jun 24, 2012 Collin rated it really liked it
I really liked this book because I feel like it gives a realistic approach to how global warming is affecting the Earth. The author talks about global warming a process that happens over thousand of years, that it has been happening since the Chinese started burning forests a couple thousand years ago (from ice core samples), polar bears aren't in a ton of danger. and that the ice is melting faster in some areas than others, but not at the rate the environmentalists would have you believe, nor i ...more
Bob Brothers
Nov 04, 2014 Bob Brothers rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking review of the hard science of climate change. Provides an excellent review of the slow motion effects of human induced carbon loading of the atmosphere and oceans - and a much more realistic vision of the inevitable (but nearly imperceptively gradual) changes we have already put in motion.

What many will object to, I think, is that Stager's commentary about impacts on humanity focuses upon the homo sapiens as a biological entity (which will likely survive and thrive over the 100
Jan 22, 2016 Lesha rated it really liked it
Climate changes–always has and always will. Stager's book ranges from unnerving to reassuring as statistical scenarios run for timelines as short as 100 years to 100,000 years into our future. Of all the creatures who have roamed the planet, humans have undoubtedly and profoundly altered the earth from its depths to its heights. His healthy respect for the adaptability of our species most certainly places the responsibility for our future into our own hands. Most interesting to me is the big-pic ...more
Ben Hamelin
Jul 29, 2014 Ben Hamelin rated it really liked it
Highly recommend this for anyone interested in furthering their understanding of our planet's climate history and future. This is an accessible, tempered-toned analysis of a rather divisive issue. He structured the book into popular sub-topics surrounding climate change (Arctic thawing, Sea level rise, ocean-acidification, etc.) and ties it all together neatly with an overarching call to action for both curbing emissions as well as rhetoric. This was a refreshing take, to be sure. To paraphrase ...more
Apr 29, 2014 C.S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly full marks for this thoroughly researched and measured look at the long-term consequences of the Anthropocene. My only hesitation in giving this text five stars is its failure to sufficiently weight the extinction of non-human species in its discussion. Stager does discuss this extinction and gives particular attention to the plight of polar bears (which we will, in all likelihood, lose as a result of climate change), but a more heavily-weighted discussion of species loss would have encou ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Keith rated it liked it
A surprisingly balanced view of the very long term affects of human impact on the climate. This is not an alarmist's call to action, but a very reasonable description of what we should expect over the very long term. Like most events, their are some who will view changes to our climate very positively (new shipping lanes, access to natural resources in the Arctic) and some, obviously negatively (especially if you live somewhere like Bangladesh). Somewhat depressing, though, is it seems that the ...more
Sep 22, 2015 Danielle rated it it was ok
A whole lot of detail but so much missing. Not very reader friendly and very heavy on the scientific minutiae. Would probably be quite the slog for the layperson with a limited scientific background. A lot of the extrapolations seem funky and the tone reads a bit too laissez-faire for my liking. The entire end argument that scientists should not be activists is idiotic. When it comes to the hard sciences, the only people that are qualified to be activists are the trained scientists. Facts are fa ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Sardonyx rated it it was amazing
First non-fiction book I've made it through completely in a while! I really enjoyed his writing style. He took a look at how weather trends in the future will change with various scenarios of our carbon emissions. As far as global warming opinions go, from naysayers to super gloom-and-doomers, he walks a middle ground, walking us through some of the trends that the planet has already experienced over the past millions of years and pointing out what cycles seem to exist and what our own contribut ...more
Mark Baller
Aug 03, 2013 Mark Baller rated it it was amazing
Very enlightening scientific study of climate change over the next 100,000 years - why it happens - when it may happen - what will happen and where it will happen.

Easy read for such a detailed book that takes the layman from fiction to close scientific facts. This is a must read for anyone that cares what will happen to our ancestors in the far future 3 century’s to thousands of years from now and why what we do will seal their fate.
Apr 29, 2011 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: ecology
Materially interesting, stylistically dull. And I really hope cherry-picking denialists don't latch on to his visions of farming in Greenland to say that climate change is really super awesome. Fortunately, I don't think they'd get much past the introduction. More seriously, I do think, from my other reading in the field, that he underestimates the detrimental effects of the loss of ecosystem services to extinction. But the long-term climatology stuff is great.
Dec 31, 2012 Nina rated it really liked it
From time to time, he's overly anthropocentric and optimistic for my tastes, but your mileage may vary. Definitely worth the read.

"By succeeding so spectacularly,crowding into every imaginable habitat and weaving ever more complex social and economic networks, our species is now pressed so tightly against the physical limits of life on a finite planet that almost any kind of environmental disturbance is potentially disruptive."
Jun 29, 2013 Ellen rated it did not like it
"Let me state that I am NOT a climate change denier. I wanted to enjoy the book. But Stager lacks comprehension of a number of the topics he attempts to explain. Discussions of chemical equilibria, metabolic processes, and isotopic enrichment are badly bungled. Besides inventing bogus pseudo-scientific explanations, the author cannot refrain from overdramatization. Where is the editor's supervision?
A big failure. I could not take this book seriously, and did not finish it."
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CURT STAGER is a climate scientist, educator, and science journalist whose research over the last three decades has dealt with the climatic and ecological histories of the Adirondacks, Peru, and much of Africa. He has published numerous research articles in major journals including Science and Quaternary Research, was an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and has wr ...more
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