Bill McGuire Pbk 160pp OUP (2024) ISBN 0192874535
In this Very Short Introduction Bill McGuire takes a fresh look at our sometimes perilous planet, and evaluates the causes and consequences of what used to be thought of as 'natural' hazards through the prism of planetary heating and the continuing destabilising of our climate. Our world has always been a dangerous and deadly place, and storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic blasts have taken an enormous toll on lives and livelihoods throughout recorded history and before. In the past, such events were regarded first as acts of God, or gods, and later as simply a consequence of hazardous natural phenomena that are a normal part of how our planet works. In recent decades, however, this picture has changed. Relentless global heating, arising from the 2.4 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere as a result of human activities, has completely altered the 'natural' hazard landscape. There has long been a debate about whether - due to the influence of societal and economic factors - there is such a thing as a truly natural disaster. Now, the debate has moved on to whether or not the hazards that cause them can any longer be described as entirely natural. Our damaged climate has driven an explosion of extreme weather, which has become ever more apparent in recent years via the super-charging of storms, floods, heatwaves and wildfires. The fingerprints of global heating can be detected even in individual events that would have been extremely unlikely to have happened, or even been impossible, in its absence. Meanwhile earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions continue to plague communities and take lives, while even here there are links with a changing climate that have the potential to magnify their occurrence and impacts.
Bill McGuire Pbk 192pp Icon (2022) ISBN 1785789201
Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant's Guide provides a post-COP26 perspective on the climate emergency, acknowledging that it is now practically impossible to keep this side of the 1.5°C dangerous climate change guardrail. The upshot is that we can no longer dodge the arrival of disastrous, all-pervasive, climate breakdown that will come as a hammer blow to global society and economy. Bill McGuire, Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards, explains the science behind the climate crisis and for the first time presents a blunt but authentic picture of the sort of world our children will grow old in, and our grandchildren grow up in; a world that we catch only glimpses of in today's blistering heatwaves, calamitous wildfires and ruinous floods and droughts. Bleak though it is, the picture is one we must all face up to, if only to spur genuine action - even at this late stage - to stop a harrowing future becoming a truly cataclysmic one.
Bill McGuire Pbk 152pp OUP (2014 ) ISBN 0198715935
Life on earth will come to an end. It's just a matter of when. Global Catastrophes: a Very Short Introduction focuses on the many potential catastrophes facing our planet and our species in the future, and looks at both the probability of these events happening and our chances of survival. Coverage extends from discussion of the likely consequences of the current climate change to the inevitable destruction of the earth in the far future, when it is enveloped by a giant, bloated sun.
Bill McGuire Pbk 320pp OUP (2013) ISBN: 0199678754
An astonishing transformation over the last 20,000 years has seen our planet flip from a frigid wasteland into the temperate world upon which our civilisation has grown and thrived. This most dynamic episode in Earth history saw the crust bouncing and bending in response to the melting of the great ice sheets and the filling of the ocean basins; triggering earthquakes, spawning tsunamis and provoking a lively response from the world’s volcanoes. Now there are signs that human-induced climate change is encouraging the sleeping giant beneath our feet to stir once again. Could it be that we are on track to bequeath to our children and their children not only a far hotter world, but also a more geologically dangerous one? The ground beneath our feet may seem safe and solid, but earthquakes, volcanic blasts and other hazardous natural phenomena leave us in no doubt that this isn’t the case. The Earth is a dynamic planet of shifting tectonic plates that is responsive to change, particularly when there is a dramatic climate transition. We know that at the end of the last Ice Age, as the great glaciers disappeared, the release in pressure allowed the crust beneath to bounce back. At the same time, staggering volumes of melt water poured into the ocean basins, warping and bending the crust around their margins. The resulting tossing and turning provoked a huge resurgence in volcanic activity, seismic shocks, and monstrous landslides—the last both above the waves and below. The frightening truth is that temperature rises expected this century are in line with those at the end of the Ice Age. All the signs, warns geophysical hazard specialist Bill McGuire, are that unmitigated climate change due to human activities could bring about a comparable response. Using evidence accumulated from studies of the recent history of our planet, and gleaned from current observations and modelling, he argues convincingly that we ignore at our peril the threats presented by climate change and the waking giant beneath our feet.
Bill McGuire Pbk : 240 pp Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2008) ISBN0297853368
We live at a pivotal time in human history. While most of us go about our daily business oblivious to the unprecedented environmental changes taking place around us, our world is poised at a critical tipping point beyond which we will bequeath to our children and our children’s children a world of environmental degradation, economic breakdown and social chaos. A ruined planet, sweltering beneath a carbon-soaked atmosphere, plundered of its resources, and shorn of many of its iconic (and not so iconic) species will be our legacy. Unless, that is, we take drastic and immediate action to diminish our emissions of the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that are inexorably transforming a generally benign climate into a volatile and overheated maelstrom. The timeframe to take action is desperately short if my four-year old son, along with all of his generation, is not to face the prospect of an increasingly uncomfortable and insecure life on a planet growing ever more inhospitable. The truth is that we e have just seven years to save the planet, at least as we have come to know it; a tiny and rapidly closing window of opportunity within which to counteract the polluting activities of more than 200 years of industrialisation. Seven Years to Save the Planet opens with an examination of where exactly we are now with respect to climate change; what it is, how human activities are causing it, and how it is already changing our planet. Part two looks ahead to the planet our children and their children will inhabit, and to the predicted impacts of unfettered climate change on their lives and their world. Part three focuses on what all of us can do as individuals to help bring emissions to heel, and stresses that, by acting in concert, we really can make a difference. In part four, I look at what others are doing, and should be doing, to tackle climate change, including national governments, big business and the scientific community. The finale addresses the 64,000 dollar question – is it already too late? Is our world doomed, whatever we do, to a sweltering future of climate mayhem, of economic collapse and social breakdown, or is there still time to build a successful and sustainable future for our race?
Bill McGuire Hbk 32pp Kingfisher (2007) Inside Access childrens' series ISBN 0753414200
"Inside Access" takes the reader on an exciting, interactive journey through favourite subjects. With lift-up flaps, superb images and the assistance of an authoritative yet friendly guide, in-depth information is presented in a richly visual and irresistible way. "Natural Disasters" follows Dan Quake, a dynamic expert who flies around the world in search of Earth's most dramatic natural phenomena. The book has global coverage and touches on key curriculum areas, such as meteorology, climate change and plate tectonics. These topics are carefully explained for the younger reader, and a glossary provides clear definitions.
Bill McGuire Pbk : 256pp OUP (2007 ) ISBN 019280572X
What do earthquakes, magma, asteroid 1950DA, and global warming have in common? All are very real natural disasters, already under way; all are also the focus of intensive work by scientists, aimed at preventing, predicting, or at least limiting their impact on civilization. Using the latest chilling data and taking care to draw a clear line between scientific fact and fiction, McGuire discusses the various ways that scientists have already started to prepare for survival. Solutions on earth range from 'space reflectors' to prevent global warming, to pressure-relieving 'robot excavators' to stop volcanic eruptions. In space, NASA is developing rocket motors to gently nudge asteroids out of Earth's path, and plans to have all threatening asteroids larger than 1km detected by 2008, thereby enabling us to predict possible collisions up to 2880. The book provides the strategies to the problems we face, and concludes optimistically with ways in which we can use technology to protect our society and planet from global catastrophe.
Bill McGuire Hbk 144pp Apple Press (2002) ISBN 1840923598
A gripping analysis of the global tectonic instability that puts living things at risk from some of Nature's most powerful forces. Stunning on-the-spot photographs of volcanoes and earthquakes, together with graphics and charts, highlight the facts, figures and disaster zones. Answers the questions you need to know: Where are the danger zones? How much warning will we have? How likely are we to experience a catastrophic event in our lifetimes? These and other urgent questions are addressed in this fascinating journey to the centre of the Earth by leading volcanologist Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre in London, and one of the world's foremost authorities on global tectonic hazards.
Robert Kovach & Bill McGuire Pbk 256pp Philip's (2003) ISBN 0540083887
This pocket-sized reference looks at the many and various threats to life on Earth from disasters that threaten large regions or the whole globe. It should be useful to geography and social studies students and to all readers interested in politics, current affairs and the environment. The book discusses the many hazards that face us, taking each in turn: earthquakes, volcanoes, weather (including hurricanes and tornadoes), snow and ice, floods, tidal waves and tsunamis, forest fires, drought and famine, epidemic disease, pollution and habitat loss, climate change (including El Nino and global warming), and cosmic disasters (such as meteor strikes). Each section describes the phenomenon, with clear text and illustrations, and gives case-histories of some of the world's most terrifying and destructive cataclysms, focusing on both the human and the geophysical aspects of these tragedies. There is much emphasis on the future and the very real threats to the lives and well-being of not just individuals and communities but humanity as a whole. Areas prone to particular hazards (such as earthquake zones, volcanic regions, flood zones) are illustrated and mapped.
Bill McGuire Pbk 256pp Cassell (1999) ISBN0304352098
Just as the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbolize the end of the world, so there are four real catastrophes lying in wait for the human race: A volcanic blast powerful enough to devastate a continent and change the Earth’s climate A giant wave capable of destroying entire cities along the coastline of the Pacific or Atlantic A cataclysmic earthquake that could destroy the world’s economy An asteroid impact that would kill a billion people and take our civilisation back to the Dark Ages Modern society has developed during an unusually quiet geological period in the Earth’s history, with no major natural catastrophes to disrupt the growth and progress of the human race. But global devastation occurred many times before the emergence of civilisation and we would be foolhardy to ignore the omnipotence of nature. This timely and authoritative book identifies in accurate and frightening detail the four catastrophes that await us. Such geophysical turmoil will be beyond any previous human experience, and will have major implications for the future of civilisation as we know it.
Bill McGuire Pbk 212pp OUP (2003) ISBN 0192804529
The Earth is an extraordinarily fragile place, which is fraught with danger - a tiny rock hurtling through space, wracked by violent crustal movements and subject to dramatic climatic changes as the Earth's geophysical and orbital circumstances vary. 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.