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Climate change in a nutshell: the causes and effects of global warming, simply put – Physics World – physicsworld.com

Taken from the October 2021 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app.

Laura Hiscott reviews Small Gases, Big Effect: This is Climate Change by David Nelles and Christian Serrer

Earth melting illustration
(Courtesy: Shutterstock/Bruce Rolff)

It might sound impossible to explain something as complex as the mechanisms of climate change both simply and accurately. But this is exactly what David Nelles and Christian Serrer – students at the University of Friedrichshafen, Germany – have achieved with their book Small Gases, Big Effect: This is Climate Change.

Approved by more than 100 scientists, Small Gases, Big Effect starts with a breakdown of the components of the Earth’s climate, before detailing the many interconnected factors that can influence it. The book then lays out evidence on how climate change is affecting different regions of the globe and their ecosystems; the positive and negative feedback loops that come into play; and ultimately the impacts on humans, both direct and indirect.

Fitting with its aims of concisely presenting the “nuts and bolts of climate change”, the book is written very matter-of-factly, in short, easily digestible chunks that don’t tire the reader’s attention. Every double-page spread features a graphic, either illustrating a concept to help you properly grasp it or showing the data on various impacts that global warming has had.

While the book acknowledges that the people worst affected by climate change are generally those who have contributed the least to the problem, it includes many examples of effects already being observed in European countries.

For instance, one graphic shows that some animal and plant species in Switzerland have migrated to higher altitudes in the mountains in recent years, while another highlights the increasing spread of tiger mosquitoes – which can transmit the Dengue virus – into European countries between 2000 and 2017. For readers in Europe, it’s a timely reminder that climate chaos is not a distant problem but something that will also manifest close to home.

  • 2021 Particular Books £7.99hb 128pp

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