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Climate change's most deadly threat: drought

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Despite the well-established fact that Earth is heating up, skeptics still are trying to poke holes in the assertion that it is owed to humans pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere. Climate change is, and always has been cyclical, they say. Or maybe, some insist, it is God who has his hand on the thermostat.

In his new book, The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, Fagan does not engage in secular or religious ponderances. An anthropologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the British-born author sees harvest seasons and weather patterns of the past as providing vital prologue for a fast approaching, water-challenged future.

In recent years, a flood of books about global warming has been written for the lay audience. Among the most noteworthy: Tim Flannery's "The Weather Makers"; Elizabeth Kolbert's "Notes From A Catastrophe"; Eugene Linden's "The Winds of Change"; and Ross Gelbspan's "The Heat Is On."

Each scopes out its own piece of the climate puzzle, from tundra to tropics and atmosphere to ocean, using plain narratives to explain a phenomenon that, when left to scientific lexicon, can seem too complicated to grasp.

Fagan, author of the bestselling "The Little Ice Age," makes an original contribution in "The Great Warming" by summoning attention to what he calls "the silent elephant in the room": drought.

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