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Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past (Macmillan Science) Hardcover – 2 May 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (2 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230553826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230553828
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.3 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Chris Turney is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Professor of Climate Change at the University of New South Wales. Working in both the Antarctic and Arctic, Chris is extending historic records of change in the polar regions back to 130,000 years ago to help better understand the future. Described by the UK Saturday Times as the 'new David Livingstone', he is passionate about communicating science from the field and laboratory.

Chris is the author of numerous books, scientific papers and magazine articles. His most recent book is called '1912: The Year The World Discovered Antarctica'. 1912 has received rave reviews and tells the largely unknown scientific endeavours of the five scientific expeditions in Antarctica one hundred years ago. He shows how the endeavours of 1912 marked the dawn of a new age in understanding of the natural world, and how lessons from a century ago might reawaken the public's passion for scientific discovery and exploration. Inspired by this remarkable period, Chris led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 (

In 2007 Chris was awarded the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal for outstanding young Quaternary scientists, and in 2009 he received the Geological Society of London's Bigsby Medal for services to geology. To do something positive about climate change, he helped set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape ( which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.

Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Geological Society of London, and the Royal Geographical Society.

Product Description


'The book does not disappoint, as we are taken on a meteorological journey through time, discovering the planet has a turbulent, disaster-prone history' - Current World Archaeology

'An entertaining, state-of-the-art overview of key issues in paleoclimatology...Chris Turney's new book is a great addition to a legacy of climate science literature.' - Holocene

'Ice, Mud and Blood has the readability of a novel with the feel of an interesting college lecturer. From the moment you begin to read it, it is hard to put the book down.' -
'Turney writes calmly and clearly about warming, cooling and other enormous climatic events in earth's geological past. He explains why they add to scientific concern about human greenhouse gas emissions, not detract as sceptics contend. A top contribution to the global warming debate.' - Australian

'Chris Turney's Ice, Mud and Blood is lively, well-researched, and up-to-date. A summary of key discoveries by scientists about past  climate change, it ranges widely across time and all over the planet. Turney begins many of these stories with delightful anecdotes about people who centuries ago stumbled on confusing observations that in time came to be understood as the result of climate change.' Professor William F. Ruddiman, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, USA and author of Plows, Plagues and Petroleum
'Chris Turney has unveiled a climate crystal ball. It's made of ice, covered in mud, and tells the past and likely future of life on Earth. Join him as he delves expertly into the layered depths of climatic history and exposes the stark warnings to all fossil-fuelled humanity that they hold.' Dr Dave Reay, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, UK and author of Climate Change Begins at Home 
'A great read on a critically important subject. Turney's best book yet.' Tim Flannery, Professor, Earth& Life Science, Macquarie University 
'Ice, Mud and Blood is just what the global warming debate needs – a sober but passionate account of past climate change by a leading climate scientist that builds to an uncompromising climax: unnatural climate change is here and it's only going to get worse. With a great eye for a story and a quirky turn of phrase, Turney tells how human history has twisted and turned at the helm of a capricious Nature. All the more frightening then to hear that the environmental challenges we face in the coming decades go beyond anything our species has ever had to contend with. A timely rallying call from someone on the frontline.' Dr Iain Stewart, School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, and presenter and author of the BBC's Earth: Climate Wars

'A sobering and vividly told tale' New Scientist
'Chris Turney is an outstanding young scientist and this book explores the changing climate and the risks facing us today' Devon Life
'It has been an exciting time to be a scientist working in this area, and Chris Turney's book Ice, Mud and Blood conveys that excitement wonderfully.' - Nature
'Written with humour and personal flair, Ice, Mud and Blood is a must-read for anyone concerned about the issues we face as we get closer and closer to the tipping point, when the effects of climate change will be unstoppable. 8/10' -

'Its virtues are the same as his previous book, the careful documentation of exactly how we know what we know, and less dictation of the conclusions…If you want just one book, not too thick or too technical, that will give you the intellectual tools to at least understand what the climate change experts are talking about, this is the one.' -

Book Description

Wildly escalating temperatures, apocalyptic flooding and catastrophic sea level rise all took place in the planet's past – and they might be our future if we don't learn all we can from it.

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Imagine a world of wildly escalating temperatures, apocalyptic flooding, devastating storms and catastrophic sea level rise. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tim Dennell on 31 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very readable primer aimed at the general public on what is now known about past climate change and how scientists have determined this. In covering this Turney introduces us to many of the pivotal figures that over the centuries have contributed to our knowledge and understanding. Ice Mud and Blood covers the history of the science as well as the science of climate change. The book covers `snowball earth', why earth cooled since the time of the dinosaurs, the discovery of ice ages and the mechanisms that caused them, changes to earths' climate (when the Sahara was green, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age etc) since the end of the last ice age up until present; the roles played by the oceans, ocean currents, volcanoes, tectonic plates, astronomical (Milankovitch) cycles and much else besides. Importantly the author also describes in an easy to understand way how scientists arrived at their findings and conclusions. Turney also explains the role of CO2 and why the current scientific consensus is that higher levels of greenhouse gases will raise earth's temperature with corresponding shifts to climate and weather. One lesson from human history is that we should be asking the question "will climate change mean things get wetter or dryer where I live?" Extremes of climate can have profound effects on human society's ability to support itself. This book is worth reading alongside Brian Fagan, William Boroughs and other writers in this field.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Fairbairn on 5 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Ice, Mud and Blood, Chris Turney sets out to provide a brief potted story of the Earth's climate history. This covers the whole range of time, from deep geological times 500 million years ago but concentrating on the more recent 100,000 years or so

It is a book I would very much like to recommend - it is written by an academic in a nice friendly style but I think there are two drawbacks. First he is not very good on his narrative. He tends to meander off, indeed giving a fascinating sidelights into the history of the various topics, but at the end of each chapter I found that too often I said to myself: what exactly have I learned in this chapter?

The second problem is that he tends to pull his punches when it comes to controversies. Climate change is a highly contentious subject and one would very much like to have a book where they are explained. For instance, he mentions Mike Mann's hockey stick theory on page 189 but he gave no indication that this is an incredibly controversial theory that is under attack both by the archaeologists for omitting the mediaeval warm period and I gather by the mathematicians too. Similarly in dealing with the Vostok ice core -- which he explained in a fascinating aside -- he mentions briefly the problem that apparently it shows that the increase in greenhouse gases appears to follow changes in temperature and not to precede them -- but then he doesn't really explain why this evidence should be not be admitted.

I like to recommend this book wholeheartedly and give it five stars, but in the final judgement it is a little disappointing and only really deserves three stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy C on 22 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is great short book, written in a highly accessible style, offers a number of very interesting insights into some of the ways how scientists have reconstructed past climates.

Whilst Turney does tend to go off on tangents and sometimes the chapters prove a little inconclusive (as mentioned in other reviews) this both adds interesting narrative to the story and represents a more fair discussion of the topic than is often presented in many other popular science books.

I would strongly recommend this book to readers from a wide range of backgrounds, but perhaps especially to those who feel they want more information on the claims made by science with regards to future climate changes, and those entering higher education from college/school level study.

All in all, a very entertaining book.
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By Andy on 15 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent science book written for a general audience. It discusses the research done into the many climate regimes experienced on Earth from the earliest times ("Snowball Earth etc") through to recent past. The emphasis is on the science and the excitement of discovery, but the implications for our own climate are clearly spelled out. We are left in no doubt the level of risk we are running by continuing with the status quo.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Deciphering the Climates of the Distant Past 18 Jun. 2008
By G. Poirier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely brimming with scientific information. The author, a geologist specializing on past climate changes, takes the reader on a fascinating quest: to quantify the variations in past climates and to understand the mechanisms precipitating these variations. Spanning a period starting about 55 million years ago, the book covers a variety of methods that scientists use to tease out information on past climates. Understandably, determining what has happened in the distant past can be very tricky and is open to interpretation; this is where the author brilliantly illustrates the scientific method at work. It is clear from this book, especially the final chapter, that the author is convinced that humans are at least partly responsible for the currently observed global warming; consequently, he worries about the future if nothing is done soon to remedy the situation. The writing style is quite clear, friendly, authoritative and accessible. This book can be enjoyed by anyone, but would likely be appreciated the most by science buffs - whether they agree with the author's views on the human contribution to climate change or not.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lots of info, but difficult to read 22 July 2009
By G. Krehbiel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of interesting information about various ways scientists have tried to get a hold on past climates and what may have caused climate change, but it's not an easy read. I found myself repeatedly wondering where the story was headed.

The overall impression the book leaves is that although scientists have found some very clever ways to interpret the past, it's an almost hopelessly complicated endeavor. There are simply too many variables at play at the same time, and the idea that anybody really knows precisely what caused this or that change seems very unlikely.
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