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CLIMATE

Review of "The Weather of the Future," by Heidi Cullen

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

THE WEATHER OF THE FUTURE

Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes From a Climate-Changed Planet

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By Heidi Cullen. Harper. 329 pp. $25.99

"The Weather of the Future" peers ahead at a world stricken by climate change. Using models to predict weather patterns, climatologist Heidi Cullen, a frequent contributor to the Weather Channel, explores seven regions and their grim futures: the Sahel in Africa, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, California's Central Valley, two sites in Greenland, Bangladesh and New York City. Massive floods in Bangladesh may produce "climate refugees," Cullen suggests; New York may be battered by a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds as high as 135 miles per hour; and coral reefs may be eaten away by an acidic ocean. "These predictions and our seeming inability to heed their warning is a potential tragedy," she writes.

Cullen also predicts some geopolitical repercussions of global warming: Pirates run rampant, Osama bin Laden invokes U.S. carbon emissions to recruit terrorists, and Canada and the United States argue over naval authority in an ice-free Northwest Passage. The book is at its best and most insightful when it explores today's environment, such as regreening efforts in Niger. Let models be used to predict the weather, not the politics.

-- Timothy R. Smith


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