The Many Lives of Carbon

Dag Olav Hessen

The Many Lives of Carbon

Dag Olav Hessen

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Translated by Kerri Pierce
272 pages | 20 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $29.00 ISBN: 9781780238517 Will Publish February 2018 For sale in North and South America only
In its pure form, carbon appears as the soft graphite of a pencil or as the sparkling diamond in a woman’s engagement ring. Underneath the surface, carbon is also the basic building block of the cells in our bodies and of all known life on earth. And at a molecular level, carbon bonds with oxygen to create carbon dioxide—a gas as vital to our life on this planet as it is detrimental at high levels in our atmosphere. As we face the climate change crisis, it’s now more important than ever to understand carbon and its life cycle.

The Many Lives of Carbon is the story of this all-important chemical element, labeled C on our periodic tables. It’s the story of balance—between photosynthesis and cell respiration, between building and burning, between life and death. Dag Olav Hessen is our guide as we discover carbon in minerals, rocks, wood, and rain forests. He explains how carbon is studied by scientists, as well as its role in the greenhouse effect, and, not least, the impact of manmade emissions. Hessen isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions as he confronts us with the literally burning issue of climate change. How will ecosystems respond to global change, and how will this feed back into our climate systems? How bad could climate change be, and will our ecosystems recover? What are our moral obligations in the face of excess carbon production? Neither alarmist nor moralistic, Hessen takes readers on a journey from atom to planet in informative, compelling prose.
Review Quotes
Jim Elser, Bierman Professor of Ecology, University of Montana
“This is a brilliant and deep journey into the science, history, and indeed the morality of the Periodic Table’s sixth element, carbon. An accomplished scientist and a masterful storyteller, Hessen takes us from the elegance of the Koh-i-Noor diamond to the putrescence of cow flatulence, explaining the science behind carbon’s connection to our bodies (we are 40% C, once water is removed) and to our future given its ongoing impact on global climate. Hessen has a particular knack for explaining chemical concepts clearly and illustrating chemical transformations, all while weaving seamlessly between the physics of atoms, the geology of Earth’s crust, and the biology of organic molecules. Readers will enjoy the journey while also gaining some philosophical and ethical perspective on the tradeoffs and complexities that are involved as humanity struggles to decarbonize. Carbon—you thought you knew it? Think again and read this book.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Reaktion Books. RSS Feed