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

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2008 edition (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: 729,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x91a6f60c) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9177e990) out of 5 stars Deciphering the Climates of the Distant Past 18 Jun. 2008
By George 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9177e9f0) out of 5 stars Science Fraud 19 Mar. 2016
By Jean - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the worst piece of "scientific" drivel I have ever encountered. He praises James Hansen of NASA who said in 1988 that "global warming was upon us" who has been thoroughly discredited by thousands of scientists and Margaret Thatcher, who, in an attempt to break a coal miners strike, warned of future problems with fossil fuels.

He then trashes the "documentary" (as he put it in quotes) The Great Global Warming Swindle as a "bizarre mixture of half-truths, misinformation and fabrications to argue that changes in the climate seen today are not caused by human activity but are solely the result of the Sun." This is patent nonsense. The movie never stated that it was only the sun but proved that the sun IS the main driver of the climate. The more sunspots, the warmer the climate and the less sunspots, the cooler. We have had a dearth of sunspots the last 2 solar cycles so we are entering a cooling phase. The complications of climate science, a new field, are varied and many, just like the natural causes of the changing climate around the world. No where does this book state that the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were much higher throughout our history then ever possible now, which allowed plant and human life to flourish.

His basic push of MMGW throughout his book makes all of his so called science suspect. Watch the documentary he trashes if you want the real truth and research it from there. MMGW, started by Al Gore is the most dangerous fraud ever perpetrated on the human race, and the governmental policies resulting in such will bring mankind back down to the level of the stone age.

I'm sorry I ever wasted money on this garbage.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9177f768) out of 5 stars 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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