Could it be that we are on track to bequeath to our children and their children not only a far hotter world, but also a more geologically fractious one? Already there are signs that the effects of climbing global temperatures are causing the sleeping giant to stir once again.
By Bill McGuire
I know that if I ask someone to name a single volcano, the chances are that they will hit upon Krakatoa; such is the degree to which the cataclysmic 1883 blast of the volcano has etched itself into the public consciousness. Remotely located in the Sunda Strait, between the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Java, the islands that made up the long-dormant volcano were pretty much unheard of prior to August, 130 years ago, when all hell broke loose.
By Bill McGuire
If it’s August, it must be Edinburgh. Doing the rounds of the UK’s book festivals is always great fun, but the Edinburgh International Book Festival is almost inevitably the annual highlight. While the book festival is exciting in its own right, this is in large part because the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe are in full spate, packing this great city with visitors from far and wide, and with acts and events that boggle even the most unflappable mind.
By Bill McGuire
When I first mention to someone that a changing climate is capable of causing volcanoes to go pop or the ground to shake, they think that I am either mad or having them on. Usually, this is just because they have not given the idea much thought, so that when I am given the opportunity to explain how this works they often become quite keen on the notion. Of course, the dyed-in-the-wool climate denier ideologues are already attacking the whole thesis; not on the basis of arguments rooted in science, but because it does not fit with their blinkered world view.
In Waking the Giant, Bill McGuire argues that now that human activities are driving climate change as rapidly as anything seen in post-glacial times, the sleeping giant beneath our feet is stirring once again. The close of the last Ice Age saw not only a huge temperature hike but also the Earth’s crust bouncing and bending in response to the melting of the great ice sheets and the filling of the ocean basins — dramatic geophysical events that triggered earthquakes, spawned tsunamis, and provoked a series of eruptions from the world’s volcanoes.
Bill McGuire, author of Global Catastrophe: A Very Short Introduction, answers a few questions for OUPblog.
It is Wednesday morning, my wife and kids have left for work and school and I am sitting in my home office, which has a beautiful view of the Gudenå river valley. I have the whole day to myself, no teaching, no meetings, no administrative drudgery. I am currently working on three books, all under contract with Oxford University Press, and it is one of those bright spring mornings that are perfect for writing. What’s not to like?
In order to fully understand key moments in history, it is important to review the culture that created them. As 2017 draws to a close, we have compiled a reading list that will help to contextualize history from 100 years ago. Transport yourself to a truly world-changing year in our shared history — 1917 — with any of the following titles.
Two hundred years ago this month, Mary Shelley had the terrifying ‘waking dream’ that she subsequently molded into the greatest Gothic novel of all time; Frankenstein. As all who have read the book or seen one of the many film adaptations will know, the ‘monster’ cobbled together out of human odds and ends by rogue scientist, Victor Frankenstein, is galvanised into existence by the power of electricity.
If you like your prophecies pin sharp then look away now. The 16th century celebrity seer Nostradamus excelled at the exact opposite, couching his predictions in terms so vague as to be largely meaningless. This has not, however, prevented his soothsayings attracting enormous and unending interest, and his book – Les Propheties – has rarely been out of print since it was first published 460 years ago. Uniquely, for a renaissance augur, the writings of Nostradamus are perhaps as popular today as they were four and a half centuries ago.
At a time when the press and broadcast media are overwhelmed by accounts and images of humankind’s violence and stupidity, the fact that our race survives purely as a consequence of Nature’s consent, may seem irrelevant.
By Kenneth R. Johnson
Jonathan Freedland wonders, “Why Surveillance Doesn’t Faze Britain”? Comparing his fellow British subjects to Americans, he finds them “curiously complacent” about their civil liberties when it comes to the massive invasions of privacy implied by Edward Snowden’s revelations of the U.S. National Security Agency’s “big data” scoops of information from digital communication sources.
The Jesus People movement emerged in the 1960s within the hippie counterculture as the Flower Children rubbed shoulders with America’s pervasive evangelical subculture. While the first major pockets of the movement appeared in California, smaller groups of “Jesus freaks” popped up—seemingly spontaneously—across the country in the late Sixties.
I’ve been seeing gods everywhere lately. Not gods like Thor, Ganesha, and God. My cinnamon rolls have been deity-free, if not gluten-free. It’s lexical gods I can’t seem to escape. Everywhere I look someone is thanking, cursing, or begging some specific group of supreme beings. For example, I’ve recently spotted the following religious invocations: • […]
By Andrew Trask
The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down another class-action decision, Erica John Fund v. Halliburton. On one side was Halliburton, the multi-national energy company, that has assumed the status of a pop-culture villain for many. On the other was the class action trial bar, for whom securities class actions are a billion-dollar business.
A few questions for James T. Patterson author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore.