This book is about biology and human ecology as they relate to climate change. Let's take it as read that climate change is one of the most urgent and fascinating science-related issues of our time and that you are interested in the subject: for if you were not you would not be reading this now. Indeed, there are many books on climate change but nearly all, other than the voluminous UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, tend to focus on a specialist aspect of climate, be it weather, palaeoclimatology, modelling and so forth. Even books relating to biological dimensions of climate change tend to be specialist, with a focus that may relate to agriculture, health or palaeoecology. These are, by and large, excellent value provided that they cover the specialist ground that readers seek. However, the biology of climate change is so broad that the average life sciences student, or specialist seeking a broader context in which to view their own field, has difficulty finding a wide-ranging review of the biology and human ecology of climate change. Non-bioscience specialists with an interest in climate change (geologists, geographers and atmospheric chemists, for example) face a similar problem. This also applies to policy-makers and policy analysts, or those in the energy industries, getting to grips with the relevance of climate change to our own species and its social and economic activities.
In addition, specialist texts refer mainly to specialist journals. Very few libraries in universities or research institutes carry the full range. Fortunately the high-impact-factor and multi-disciplinary journals such as Science and Nature do publish specialist climate papers (especially those relating to major breakthroughs) and virtually all academic libraries, at least in the Anglophone world, carry these publications. It is therefore possible to obtain a grounding in the biology (in the broadest sense) of climate change science from these journals provided that one is prepared to wade through several years’ worth of copies.