Oxford University Press, 2003. Thousands of people die every year from floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons. Yet compared to what the Earth endured in prehistoric times-lethal volcanic winters, deadly asteroid collisions-our civilization has developed against a backdrop of relative geological calm. Will this calm last? A Brief Guide to the End of the World looks at the frightful prospects that await us in the 21st century and beyond. Bill McGuire, a leading expert in the field of geological hazards, admits that the omens are less than encouraging. Only 10,000 years after the last Ice Age, the Earth is sweltering in some of the highest temperatures it has ever seen. Overpopulation and the relentless exploitation of natural resources, combined with rising temperatures and sea levels induced by greenhouse gases, are increasing the likelihood of natural catastrophes, from continuing El Ninos, to large-scale glacial melting, to mega-tsunami. Even more disturbing is the near certainty that we are headed toward another asteroid or comet collision on the scale of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. In this provocative and immensely readable guidebook, McGuire discusses when these catastrophic events are likely to take place, how they will effect our global society, and what we can do to increase our chances of survival-from emissions reductions, to massive geo-engineering schemes, to the colonization of space. Illustrated with photographs and diagrams, and backed by meticulous research, A Brief Guide to the End of the World sheds new light on the extraordinarily vulnerability of our planet, and on our capacity to withstand the dramatic changes Mother Nature has in store for us in the distant-or not so distant-future.
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