Earth under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World

Earth under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World

Earth under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World

Earth under Fire: How Global Warming Is Changing the World


More than a warning, Earth under Fire is the most complete illustrated guide to the effects of climate change now available. It offers an upbeat and intelligent account of how we can lessen the effects of our near-total dependence on fossil fuels using technologies and energy sources already available. A thorough revision and a new preface for the paperback edition bring the compelling facts about climate change up to date.


This book is a message from many of the places where the effects of rapid climate change are being seen and where scientists are studying what is happening. It is also a report on what these changes mean and what we can do about them.

As a witness to climate change, I have stood in the empty rookeries of displaced Adélie penguins and felt the chill as huge icebergs separated from an ice shelf in Antarctica. I have seen the jagged fronts of receding Greenland glaciers and observed subtle changes on the tundra. I have tracked down Alpine glaciers depicted in 150-year-old images and rephotographed them to show them wasting away. In the woods of eastern North America I have walked among spring wildflowers and watched for migrant songbirds, which are arriving earlier each season than in decades past. Along the coasts I have seen rising tides and heavy storms erode beaches. I have heard the anguish in the voices of native Alaskans as they describe their village being washed away, of Chinese farmers facing famine caused by drought, and of Pacific Islanders driven from their homes by increasingly high tides. Global warming is affecting the whole world, from the tiniest ocean plankton to humans in their cities and the flora and fauna of entire river basins and mountain ranges.

I began making the observations described in this book in 1999, as part of a photographic project I called “World View of Global Warming.” Because many popular articles and books on climate change have been based on predictions, which are easily dismissed, I wanted to look at the Earth itself and report on the changes I saw already under way. As a journalist, I wanted to move beyond the raw statistics, the secondhand and political arguments, and talk directly to the scientists who are documenting

OPPOSITE A cavern at the disintegrating edge of the Marr Glacier, Anvers Island, Antarctica, framing an inflatable boat from
Palmer Station research base. (JANUARY 2000)

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