|Princeton University Press is dedicated to publishing the best scholarship in climate science, ecological science, and climate-related issues, including global warming and meteorological events. Habitable Planet highlights the important contributions of our authors and editors to the crossroads of climate science and policy.|
Harvard Professor of Geochemistry Charles Langmuir celebrates the revised edition of the book that has introduced generations of readers to the science of Earth’s origin and evolutionNovember 20th, 2012
“Life evolves in relationship with the planet, and progressively modifies it to form a single integrated system.”–Charles Langmuir
View the video from its original source at Harvard Museum of Natural History’s website:
Part 2 from the HOW CLIMATE WORKS symposium here at Princeton University features David Schimel, a senior reserach scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. He discussed his forthcoming Princeton University Press book CLIMATE AND ECOSYSTEMS, due out in June 2013 in our series Princeton Primers in Climate. In 2007, David was a corecipient of the Nobel peace Prize for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s first report on the global cabron cycle.
Check out his talk below.
HOW CLIMATE WORKS symposium, co-sponsored by Princeton University Press and the Princeton Environmental InstituteNovember 16th, 2012
On October 12, 2012, Princeton University Press and the Princeton Environmental Institute hosted a day-long symposium titled HOW CLIMATE WORKS. The symposium was held in conjunction with the publication of our latest titles in the well-received Princeton Primers in Climate series.
In this first of ten segments to be posted here the symposium speakers discussed their contributions to the Princeton Primers in Climate series. The introduction remarks were given by Princeton University Press biological sciences editor Alison Kalett and Princeton professor Geoffrey Vallis, author of CLIMATE AND THE OCEANS.
Harvard geochemist Charlie Langmuir and our new revised and expanded HOW TO BUILD A HABITABLE PLANET in the Harvard GazetteOctober 10th, 2012
There is a terrific feature on Harvard University geochemistry professor Charles Langmuir and our newly revised and expanded book HOW TO BUILD A HABITABLE PLANET: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind in the September issue of the Harvard Gazette.
From the article:
If there’s one thing Charles Langmuir wants to give people, it’s a sense of scale. The scale of their lives in human history, of human history in the lifetime of the Earth, and of the Earth in the long, broad span of the universe.
In other words, he wants to give them a little humility.
“You realize how small we are and that we are [just] a particle of the whole,” said Langmuir, Higgins Professor of Geochemistry and director of Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum.
A better sense of proportion might influence behavior, he said, so that people act as a part of nature rather than just users of it.
“It’s really what’s needed for the environmental problems we face,” Langmuir said.
Langmuir is in a somewhat privileged position to size up humanity. For the past 10 years, he worked to update “How to Build a Habitable Planet” (1985), a legendary textbook in the geosciences known for its accessibility and for the comprehensive view it takes of the Earth and its place in the universe. Earlier this month he discussed the book in a talk at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Langmuir, who came to Harvard in 2002, spent 20 years at Columbia University as a colleague of famed geoscientist Wallace Broecker, author of the original book. Broecker, who coined the term “global warming,” said he wrote “How to Build a Habitable Planet” because he wanted people to think more broadly about the Earth, its origins, and our impact on the planet.
The second edition, released this summer, has been greatly revised. As co-author, Broecker reviewed changes and revised some of the original chapters, but Langmuir did the bulk of the research and writing.
The original book’s nine chapters have been expanded to 21, and the page count more than doubled, to 720 from 300. That expansion was partly because Langmuir increased the book’s scope. The original didn’t include a discussion of biology, a central aspect in the Earth’s habitability, and today considered a powerful force in transforming its physical environment. Also fresh is a discussion of exoplanets, which weren’t discovered until the 1990s; recent research on the origins of life; findings on dark matter and dark energy, now known to be enormous forces in the universe; and insights on ocean floor thermal vents — Langmuir’s specialty….
Princeton Primers in Climate is our new series of short, authoritative books that explain the state of the art in climate-science research. Written specifically for students, researchers, and scientifically minded general readers looking for succinct and readable books on this frequently misunderstood subject, these primers reveal the physical workings of the global climate system with unmatched accessibility and detail.
Today the series and its new book, David Randall’s Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate, received a nice review from Justin Gillis, environment writer for the New York Times on the NYT.com’s popular Green blog. Gillis has written recently about clouds’ effect on climate change, and he remarks on the book’s accessibility:
We invite you to be among the first to download and browse our 2012 Earth Science catalog at:
Check out what is new in our Princeton Primers in Climate series. You will find books by Geoffrey K. Vallis, Shawn J. Marshall, David Randall and David Archer. Princeton Primers in Climate is a new series of short, authoritative books that explain the state of the art in climate-science research. Written specifically for students, researchers, and scientifically minded general readers looking for succinct and readable books on this frequently misunderstood subject, these primers reveal the physical workings of the global climate system with unmatched accessibility and detail.
We are celebrating the new series at the AGU annual meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 6th. You are invited to join us at our exhibit booth (no. 1449) at 3:30 p.m. for the party. We hope to see you there.
So, what carnivore does Panthera president Luke Hunter think most “needs the spotlight for conservation efforts”?December 5th, 2011
Hint — it is one of the Wizard of Oz trifecta…
Click through for the answer and to access a wonderful interview with one of the leading Big Cats conservation voices in the world (and coincidentally PUP author), Luke Hunter.
In a revealing interview with The Wildlife Conservation Examiner Cathy Taibbi, Hunter reveals that the African lion is in what he calls a “conservation blind-spot”. Because tours run through heavily populated areas, it gives the impression that lions are thriving and populous in the wild, but Hunter notes that these tours run through protected areas and that the story is quite different in unprotected regions. Lions compete for resources just like any other animal and unfortunately in farming areas, people and their livestock are easy pickings which creates dangerous conditions and threatens the economic viability of the farms themselves.
There are lots of other great tidbits in the interview which is available on the Examiner web site: http://www.examiner.com/wildlife-conservation-in-national/carnivores-of-the-world-interview-with-dr-hunter-author-president-panthera-review
Read along to discover how Luke Hunter was bitten by the big-cats bug when he was a toddler, whether there really is a difference between the puma and the cougar, and whether re-introduced wolf populations really are different from the wolves of an earlier period.
Click on the cat to the right to view a sample page from Carnivores of the World.
Yale sociolgoist Charles Perrow on how technology can nudge climate change politics in the Bloomberg ViewOctober 26th, 2011
Yale university sociologist and three-time Princeton University Press author Charles Perrow published a thought-provoking op-ed in the Bloomberg View. Check out some of his popular books ORGANIZING AMERICA: Wealth, Power, and the Origins of Corporate Capitalism, THE NEXT CATASTROPHE: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters, and his classic work NORMAL ACCIDENTS: Living with High Risk Technologies.
From the Bloomberg View:
The House bill was already quite weak, containing many exceptions for agriculture and other industries, subsidies for nuclear power and increasingly long deadlines for action. In the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats from coal-dependent states sealed its fate. Getting past these senators is the key to achieving a major reduction in our emissions.
Technological challenges to reducing emissions exist, too. Most pressing is the need to develop the know-how to capture carbon dioxide on a large scale and store it underground. Such technology could reduce by 90 percent the emissions from coal- fired power stations. Some 500 of these facilities in the U.S. produce 36 percent of our CO2 emissions….(continued at Bloomberg View)
According to Library Journal’s most recent Best Sellers list, Diane Coyle’s new book The Economics of Enough was the third best-selling book in environmental science. Not too shabby for an economist!
We publish field guides — lots and lots of field guides–and many of them are for fairly remote places in the world. One side benefit to publishing and reading these books is, as reviewer Brad Sylvester notes in his review of Antarctic Wildlife by James Lowen, they serve both as field guides to aid in identifying critters AND as conservation ambassadors to the world:
“It’s difficult to appreciate far off consequences of things like melting polar ice-caps, rising ocean levels, and other effects that happen far away or too slowly for the eye to see. That’s one reason why I think books like James Lowen’s Antarctic Wildlife, A Visitor’s Guide are so important,” says Sylvester. “They help provide context for and appreciation of the Antarctic as more than an abstract concept.”
Sylvester goes on to say that the Antarctic, “one of the Earth’s most critical and fragile habitats is in a state of flux, impacted by ocean acidification, climate change, ozone depletion and a host of man-made pressures.”
He concludes that books like this remind us “why even the most remote places on Earth are worth defending.”
Read more here at Yahoo! News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20110520/sc_ac/8508497_lowens_antarctic_wildlife_a_visitors_guide_adds_perspective.
You can also view some sample plates from this book here.
Princeton Primers in Climate takes the complex climate system, and breaks it up into all its component parts, to explain how each part works and contributes to the working of the whole. Each book in the series is short, affordable, conversational and accessible in tone, and also quantitative. The books do include a handful of key equations (not beyond first-year, college level calculus). This is because these books are about the facts – the physics – of how climate works, so a few equations are needed to make the science absolutely clear. They are meant to reach a wide, interdisciplinary audience of readers who have no specialized background in this field, but who can handle a little bit of physics and math. For anyone looking for succinct and readable books on this frequently misunderstood subject, written by leading researchers in the field of climate science, these primers reveal the physical workings of the global climate system with unmatched accessibility and detail.
Published in November, the first title in the series is The Global Carbon Cycle. Written by David Archer, notable climate scientist and frequent contributor to realclimate.org, the book looks at the carbon cycle – an essential driver of the climate system – and its impact on climate across different geological timescales, from the deep past up to the present day. The carbon cycle is something of a thermostat for Earth’s climate, given the direct cause and effect relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature. Interestingly, however, it can stabilize the Earth’s climate or amplify natural or man-made variations in climate, depending on the timescale you’re looking at. In this sense, it was a co-conspirator both in past ice ages and in times when the Earth went through warm periods and had no ice at all.
To discover how exactly carbon influences the climate system over the short and the long term, this is the book to read. Firmly grounded in advanced climate science research but written in an accessible style, The Global Carbon Cycle makes an essential contribution to current debates surrounding climate change – by clarifying exactly what we know and don’t know about this fundamental part of the climate system.
Stay tuned for forthcoming books in this exciting new series, including The Oceans and Climate by Geoffrey K. Vallis, Natural Climate Change by Mark Cane, Atmospheric Processes by David Randall, Climate Sensitivity by Jeffrey Kiehl, Planetary Climates by Andrew Ingersoll, The Cryosphere by Shawn J. Marshall, Paleoclimate by Michael L. Bender, and Terrestrial Hydrology and the Climate System by Eric F. Wood.
Bobbi S. Low, co-author of An Introduction to Methods and Models in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation BiologyNovember 17th, 2010
Your new book takes an “active learning” approach to teaching key ideas in biology. Can you say a bit about what that means?
There is a wealth of evidence by now that students learn better if they are engaged with the material, no matter what the topic. Rather than being talked to for an hour, if we can find ways that students can (individually, in pairs, in small groups) question and discuss the material, propose inferences from it, take apart case studies, even role play—they are likely to understand and remember the material better.
Why do you think the approach you take in this textbook is a particularly good way of teaching students ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation?
These are some of the most “engaging” topics in all of biology. Getting hands-on experience is important, and it helps (if done right) to engage and remember the theoretical aspects correctly. In behavior, for example, you can start simply, with having students do an ethogram. They must figure out what constitutes “a” behavior, and how to describe it in a completely reliable, repeatable way. Watching, say, mallard ducks, and then discussing what everyone has seen, then collaboratively putting a “list of behaviors” together—all that engages students cognitively (and usually physically, as well). They don’t forget what they themselves have put together. It is true, tough, that almost any subject, no matter how abstract, can probably be taught this way by someone who really understands it deeply
How did you come to teach biology in this way? Why do you find it effective?
Oh, my. Well, first, the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has a number of biology/ecology specialists who really know this approach. And Stan Braude, the senior author, independently had begun to work this way. So we were both doing in-class short collaborative exercises (<5 minutes)—small inference problems like optimal group size for werewolves hunting humans or cows (the data, of course, are on wolves with smaller and larger prey). Or, though solving a problem together, to discover why a dominant Groove-Billed Ani might kick her sister out of a collaborative nest, but not evict a stranger! And in discussion, because groups are smaller, one can do even more (and more types) of collaborative work. Last week in my behavioral ecology course, for example, groups of 3-4 presented their research (begun the week before) on the life history of some particular species, and what that life history implied for management and conservation.
More broadly, it’s probably useful to know that the Ecological Society of America, and the American Biology Teacher have good resources on why active learning is a useful tool, and how to do it effectively.
Can you talk about one example from the book to illustrate your approach?
Well, each exercise is structured this way! One I particularly like is one that Stan devised: for optimal foraging, it uses Halloween trick-or-treaters. The problems are all there, but every student has been a trick-or-treater. It’s hard to discover your early foraging was sub-optimal! All the exercises begin with some individual work, then sharing and critiquing all the ideas individuals have raised. Then the group interaction expands, and students must master many details for the final part, which may be a proposal, judging proposals, role-playing as an environmentalist or a hunter, and more. We find the approach really helpful: students think it is fun, and they learn and remember a lot!