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Adapt to climate change rather than trying to eliminate it, challenges WSU author in new book published by Prometheus Books

PULLMAN, Wash. – New York publisher Prometheus Books has just released “The Whole Story of Climate: What Science Reveals about the Nature of Endless Change” by Washington State University faculty member E. Kirsten Peters.
The book challenges the idea that we must spend all our effort in attempts to somehow eliminate climate change. Instead, Peters argues, since natural climate change is inevitable, our limited resources may well be better spent on adaptation strategies.

The Whole Story of Climate
The Whole Story of Climate. Click image to donwload a high res version.

Peters, who has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Princeton and a Ph.D in geology from Harvard, is the author of “The Rock Doc,” a nationally syndicated newspaper column. She also is a grant writer in WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. Her new book is a narrative focused on natural climate change and the geological and other evidence for it.

“The book tells the story of how scientists discovered everything from the Ice Age to patterns of drought and wetter times in the ancient American Southwest,” Peters said.

Natural cycles not the enemy

Peters accepts the idea that the world has been warming since about 1850 and that human activities are at least part of the reason for that trend. But there is also abundant physical evidence of natural climate cycles that are played out over different time scales, both on regional and global levels.

“If we view climate change as our enemy, we will always be defeated, for climate will always change,” Peters said. “From my point of view, we therefore need to invest a good portion of our time and money into strategies to adjust to inevitable climate changes.”

Fires around the world

E. Kirsten Peters
E. Kirsten Peters

Peters’ book closes with a discussion of one source of carbon dioxide we might most usefully address. Unwanted coal fires are burning around the world. Unlike forest fires, which receive major media coverage, coal fires are seldom discussed by the media. There are both underground and surface coal fires burning in the U.S., as well as in China and India. Some geologists think that extinguishing all the coal fires in the world would approximately offset the carbon dioxide produced each year by cars in the U.S.

“And addressing coal fires doesn’t have the negative effects on the economy that most ideas about taxing or capping carbon seem to carry,” Peters said.

Valuable addition to discussion

WSU emeritus history faculty member Prof. Jerry Gough helped edit the manuscript that ultimately became the book. “The Whole Story of Climate is a valuable addition to the climate change discussion,” Gough said. “I recommend the book to both those interested in the climate debate and those more generally interested in the history of science.”

Peters has written seven previous books, ranging from geology textbooks to murder mysteries.

“Prometheus is a publishing house known for its independent views, and I feel fortunate it’s bringing out my climate book,” said Peters.

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