Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum

I just searched for updates on William Ruddiman’s hypothesis and found a number of good posts.

Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum is one of the most original and thought-provoking books I’ve read in years.  Ruddiman’s a retired professor, a specialist in the field of paleoclimatology, but I read his book and found it to be a non-technical read despite its subject matter.  Ruddiman takes the general reader through the earth’s natural cycles and concludes that given those regular rhythms we would be entering a new ice age  had man not intervened some 8,000 years ago.

What I love about this book is that Ruddiman expected, wanted, and, after some initial awed acceptance, got the usual scientific arguments churning. His book provides fodder for a full spectrum of opinions. With luck, it’ll inspire considerable research.

Here are some recent discussions, for, against, you name it:

This from the November 9, 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education
“Global Warming before Smokestacks”

This from the Northern Virginia Chapter of Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment on October 15, 2009 — “Humans Began Changing Climate 7,000 Years Ago ‘I’m Really Certain That I’m Right,’ Says Ruddiman” by Will Goldsmith

This from December 19, 2008 on Resilience Science
Evaluating Ruddiman’s Long Anthropocene Hypothesis

A quick Google search for Ruddiman hypothesis 2009 turned up many, many such discussions. And, so far, I’ve just skimmed these but so far I’ve found mostly scientific rather than political discussions–one of my red flags that there’s no science involved.

Happy reading!



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