Product has been added to the basket

Dangerous Earth: What We Wish We Knew about Volcanoes, Hurricanes, Climate Change, Earthquakes, and More

dangerous earthIf there is one main thread in Dr Ellen Prager’s book it is that the main threat to humanity is climate change. Not only is climate change itself dangerous, but it also exacerbates or influences many other natural hazards. It does that either directly, such as making weather hazards more extreme and unpredictable or causing rising sea levels that will increase tsunami hazards, or indirectly as when humans are forced by changing climate to move to areas that have high risk of being affected by other natural hazards.

The book is small, but it contains a wealth of information. It has five chapters, excluding the introduction and conclusion. Climate change, volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and hurricanes get one chapter each while rogue waves, landslides, rip currents, sinkholes and sharks are all covered together in one chapter. She admirably manages to convey what we know, but also – as implied by the title - what we wish we knew, about how to predict and mitigate the impact of natural hazards in a language easily accessible to a lay person.

The author has a background in marine science and has solid professional experience in academia, consultancy and popular science writing. This serves her well because of the by necessity wide scope of this book. The book covers the most recent advances in natural hazard prediction. However, she demonstrates with great clarity how much we still do not understand.

Does the book have any flaws? Not many. It was perhaps unfortunate to include sharks in the list of natural hazards, because, as the author herself makes clear, they are not. The book has an extensive list of resources, but lacks an index.

Considering the width of the topics covered in this very short volume some things just had to be left out. I will not go into what, because that would give an unfair impression of an otherwise very comprehensive book that manages to go into surprising depth on the topics included. The one hazard that I felt could have been added is forest fires. Due to climate change these events have become more notable recently, and even if many of them are due to human agency, their effects can be as devastating as any other natural hazard.

I would recommend this interesting and important book to anyone. Natural disasters happen, and while they are not all driven by climate change, the effects of many of them are exacerbated by it.

By Lars Backstrom

DANGEROUS EARTH: WHAT WE WISH WE KNEW ABOUT VOLCANOES, HURRICANES, CLIMATE CHANGE, EARTHQUAKES, AND MORE by ELLEN PRAGER, 2020. Published by: The University of Chicago Press 229pp (hbk) ISBN: 9780226541693 List Price: $25. W: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/D/bo27803146.html