The Goldilocks Planet: The 4 Billion Year Story of Earth's
Climate by Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams
TheEarth speaks - a comprehensive and clear account of what drives climate
timely book collates a vast and up-to-date range of geological, chemical and
biological evidence to chart the climate history of Earth. That the Earth is the
Goldilocks planet, "just right for life", has been addressed exhaustively
through the cosmological anthropic principle by authors such as John Barrow and
Paul Davies, just as books on exoplanets tackle what makes a planet habitable.
However, The Goldilocks Planet offers a comprehensive account of the geological
evolution of the Earth, a perspective on its climate which is both appropriate
and helpful. The exposition is clear and readable, reflecting the authors'
familiarity with research and practitioner alike. The style seems to change in
places as each author takes on his speciality - this does not grate, however, as
the history of Earth's climate is recounted seamlessly. It contains Notes,
although these often direct the reader straight to the References, perhaps an
unnecessary step but it works and is no doubt the preference of the publisher.
The index is fine, benefiting from the wide range of theory and research that
the authors cover. Recommended reading is also offered.
history of the Earth is presented chronologically and the commentary tracks
throughout geological history observing any correlation between climate drivers
and outcomes. An immense amount of detail is included for a book of only 267
pages. Warming and cooling events are tracked to the Pliocene Epoch in the last
ten million years, the "last of the warmth" and the last time until now that
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have exceeded 400 ppmv. The most recent
Holocene and Anthropocene Epochs are then examined objectively, areas of
uncertainty are flagged, and important trends identified. While the final
chapter on the Anthropocene reads a little like "An Inconvenient Truth", this is
largely unavoidable and weighs up all the evidence critically