Cover Image: Our Fragile Moment

Our Fragile Moment

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Many, many thanks to NetGalley and PublicAffairs for the ARC.

I was very excited to have the opportunity to read this. It is extremely well done. It is "work" to read this. Be prepared. But what else could possibly be more important? I hope this reaches young and experienced readers. I learned so much from this author. And this will require a second reading.

We need to know and better understand our planet's history and climate trajectory. This is worth the time. Highly recommended.

Was this review helpful?

Our Fragile Moment was a major feat of scientific study and reporting. Looking back at the paleontological history of the planet to determine what caused climate changes through the past eons and how this will inform us of our current climate warming seems to be to be a tremendous undertaking. But Michael Mann dove right into the past, and wow, I learned (or tried to learn) so much from this work. I cannot wait to purchase a hard copy so that I can mark and learn even more. I highly recommend this book if you want to look at the ancient history of the earth and how we are faring compared to these past eons. Thank you, Net Galley, and the publisher, for providing me with an ARC.

Was this review helpful?

Hefty but amazing read.

This book is deep. It's heavy. I'm still rereading it, and it is going to take me a few reads to fully understand everything. I took several astronomy courses, and understand how planets form, and what life looks like in various stages. I am also currently self-teaching biology, botany, ecology, and more. I would consider myself a novice who is not starting from 0. This is a advanced undergrad (300-400 class minimum) or graduate-level read.

It is also excellent. Amazingly well written, well cited. It is clear that the author is an accomplished PhD in his field. I'm still reeling from the Gaia Theory and the Medusa Theory. Snowball earth was something I'd heard of but not understood fully, and the great dying is something we've already showed our on (who is three) in the timeline of everything book. To get more context and a deeper understanding of the earth's history, and why we have evidence of this information was absolutely mind-blowing.

It's worth the read if you really want to understand the context of where our planet is today compared to the past.

I received an advanced copy of this book for free, and am giving my review honestly and voluntarily.

Was this review helpful?

In his new book Our Fragile Moment, Professor Michael Mann goes back in time and examines all the critical climate-changing events in our planet’s history. He shows what lessons can be learned from each one, and more importantly what lessons can’t be drawn from these events.
One of the most important lessons is that climate impacts are not all neatly reversible. For example, if we start to lose an ice sheet because of excess atmospheric CO2 and warming, just dialling down the CO2 back to its starting point will not magically renew the ice sheet in proportion.
This phenomena, called hysteresis, has played out many times over the course of Earth’s 4500 million year history.
Mann’s analysis shows that some of the gloomiest climate projections are unlikely to play out. Nevertheless he warns that “Dangerous climate change cannot be avoided. It's already here. It’s a matter of how bad we are willing to let it get.”
Global mean temperatures are already around 1.2oC above pre-industrial times. As Mann shows, we are potentially only a few points of a degree from destabilising the Greenland Ice Sheet.
On the other hand, Mann does not buy into the most catastrophic societal collapse scenarios as long as we take action. For example, his scientific analysis shows that neither runaway methane-driven warming nor an uninhabitable world are plausible in any scenario but total inaction. He concludes that even under a business-as-usual scenario, the warming of the planet is unlikely to exceed 3 degrees. But that’s hardly comforting because at that level of warming we can expect lots of loss of life, destabilization of societal infrastructure, chaos and conflict. It’s not a world we want to live in.
He acknowledges that there are lots of uncertainties but argues they are reasons for more prompt action rather than less.
What are these actions? Among them is to keep carbon emissions within definable carbon budgets. This means carbon emissions being brought to zero within three decades and getting halfway there within a decade if we are to limit rise to 1.5 degrees. Even if 1.5 degrees is exceeded, “there is no point beyond which we shouldn’t keep trying to limit warming. Every fraction of a degree matters.”
The book achieves its objective by demonstrating the lessons and relevance of past events to our potential future climate and dispelling some myths along the way. It would have been even better if there were more diagrams to support the text. And even though Mann feels privileged to have experienced some current events first hand and knows many of the researchers in the field, the constant references to himself become grating and do not add to the book’s thesis which could have been made just as well without them.
This does not detract from the work’s value. Indeed Mann has given us an approachable book with numerous insights into the ingenious techniques scientists use to examine the past climate and envisage the future. And more importantly, he provides the supporting evidence for an optimistic outlook provided we take the climate actions needed to preserve our fragile moment.

Was this review helpful?

An excellent albeit alarming read about our fragile environment and our place in it. Some of the more heavy science elements of the read went over my head at times but still a fascinating read.

Was this review helpful?

You probably know the hockey stick graph. It's flashy, makes a complicated field accessible, and makes an excellent explanation for human-caused climate change. This book, by the hockey stick guy, is much the same. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Was this review helpful?