Deep Future is an ambitious book – one that seeks to change the way we think about global warming. I’m sure we’ve all seen news reports that tell us we could be sleeping with the fishes in 2050 or some such alarmist figure. Whereas in Deep Future, dates like 5100 AD (in a quick flip-through for this review, I noticed the years 12,000 AD, 3000 AD and 5300 AD among others) are bandied about quite regularly to give you a more long term way of looking at global warming and an idea of the sheer timescale involved in climate change.
The book was written by Dr. Curt Stager, a paleoecologist who claims that he was initially skeptical before he undertook the research that led him to write the book. He suggests that a public inability to look beyond the short term and a tendency for people to exaggerate the dangers of climate change has done more harm than good for the cause to save the planet. This isn’t that hard to believe.
The point of Deep Future is to show that climate change is definitely having an impact, but any changes resulting from it will take place gradually over the next few thousand years, contrary to what people seem to think. However, this is not to say that this is good. While the changes will happen gradually, they will also have the unpleasant side effect of changing the look of our landmasses as we know them, making our oceans extremely acidic and potentially causing the extinction of more land-based creatures.
He backs up his claims with graphs showing timescales that go on for thousands of years, as well of photographs of the area near his home and local marine life that show how global warming is affecting the climate.
At 300 pages or so (and another 27 pages of references and notes), this book is a bit of a slog if you’re not the least bit interested in climate change. Another flaw the book has is its overuse of abbreviations. So you’ll be reading a paragraph about ‘the PPM of carbon found in the atmosphere according to the IPCC’ or something similar and you’ll have to keep all those abbreviations at the front of your mind for several pages (that, or your mind will wander and you will daydream about doing your laundry). This might not be a problem for some of you but it was for me when I was reading it, particularly as I didn’t read it in one go.