Two strands of environmental philosophy run through the course of human history. The first holds that the natural state of the universe is one of infinite stability, with an unchanging earth anchoring the predictable revolutions of the sun, moon, and stars. Every scientific revolution that challenged this notion, from Copernicus' heliocentricity to Hubble's expanding universe, from Wegener's continental drift to Heisenberg's uncertainty and Lorenz's macroscopic chaos, met with fierce resistance from religious, political, and even scientific hegemonies.
wager to his son, was obliged to allow him to drive the sun chariot across the sky. In this primal environmental catastrophe, Phaeton lost control and fried the earth, killing himself in the process.
- The myth of natural stability.
- So what saved the earth from fire and ice?
- Greenhouse physics.
- Why the climate problem is difficult.
- Determining humanity’s influence.
- The consequences.
- Science, politics, and the media.
- The politics of global climate change.
Like it or not, we have been handed Phaeton’s reins, and we will have to learn how to control climate if we are to avoid his fate.
Kerry Emanuel is a professor of meteorology at MIT and the author of Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes. In 2006 Time magazine recognized him as one of the world’s 100 most influential people.