Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet - cover image


Philippe D. Tortell

Published On





  • English

Print Length

288 pages (xvi + 278)


Paperback203 x 20 x 203 mm(8" x 0.79" x 8")
Hardback203 x 24 x 203 mm(8" x 0.94" x 8")


Paperback1374g (48.47oz)
Hardback1808g (63.78oz)



OCLC Number





  • RNKH
  • RND


  • NAT010000
  • NAT011000
  • SCI026000


  • GE149
  • E26


  • Earth Day
  • Earth’s environment
  • Earth’s natural systems

Earth 2020

An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet

Fifty years have passed since the first Earth Day, on 22 April 1970. This accessible, incisive, and timely collection of essays brings together a diverse set of expert voices to examine how the Earth’s environment has changed over this past half century, and what lies in store for our planet over the coming fifty years.

Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet responds to a public increasingly concerned about the deterioration of Earth’s natural systems, offering readers a wealth of perspectives on our shared ecological past, and on the future trajectory of planet Earth.

Written by world-leading thinkers on the front-lines of global change research and policy, this multi-disciplinary collection maintains a dual focus: some essays investigate specific facets of the physical Earth system, while others explore the social, legal and political dimensions shaping the human environmental footprint. In doing so, the essays collectively highlight the urgent need for collaboration across diverse domains of expertise in addressing one of the most significant challenges facing us today.

Earth 2020 is essential reading for everyone seeking a deeper understanding of the past, present and future of our planet, and the role of humanity in shaping this trajectory.


Conceived before Covid-19, 'Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet' is an attempt to review various environmental topics from climate change to biodiversity and pollution crises in a series of testimonies by "insiders,” specialists in their respective disciplines. It begins with a solid introduction by Philippe Tortell explaining his journey into the preparation of these essays. As he explains in the introduction the idea for this book came to him as a way "to focus public attention (if only for a short while) on topics of significant importance.”[5] Tortell explains the book as a way of assessing the human footprint on the "Earth system” since the first celebration of Earth Day in 1970.

Loys Maingon

"A Measure of Change". The Ormsby Review, 2021.

Full Review

Additional Resources

On Monday, May 4, at 12 p.m. EDT the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth hosted an online panel discussions with four contributors of Earth 2020: An Insider's Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet.This panel was co-moderated by Philippe Tortell, editor of the title and professor at the University of British Columbia and Elizabeth Wilson, director of the Irving Institute and professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

[video]Online panel 1

In this panel the following authors participated:

Sally N. Aitken, University of British Columbia
Douglas G. MacMartin, Cornell University
Roland Geyer, University of California, Santa Barbara
U. Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia

[video]Online panel 2

The second panel includes the following panelists:

Robert Socolow, Princeton University
Candis Callison, University of British Columbia
Janet G. Hering, ETH and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Alice Gorman Flinders University

[audio]Ice Core Walk(Philippe Tortell, Chris Chafe and Greg Niemeyer)
[audio]Earth Symphony(Chris Chafe, with Phillipe Tortell and Jonathan Girard)



(pp. 1–8)
  • Philippe D. Tortell

Earth Sounds

(pp. 9–12)
  • Philippe D. Tortell

Impatient Earth

(pp. 13–22)
  • John Harte
  • Robert Socolow

Climate 1970-2020

(pp. 23–32)
  • Tapio Schneider

Politics and Law

(pp. 33–42)
  • Elizabeth May


(pp. 43–50)
  • David Archer
  • Jeffrey R. Smith
  • Gretchen C. Daily


(pp. 59–66)
  • Elizabeth J. Wilson
  • Elias Grove Nielsen


(pp. 67–76)
  • Sally N. Aitken
  • Don Fullerton


(pp. 85–92)
  • Jon Abbatt


(pp. 93–100)
  • Douglas G. MacMartin
  • Katharine L. Ricke


(pp. 101–110)
  • Julian Dowdeswell

Imaging Earth

(pp. 111–132)
  • Edward Burtynsky

Mother Earth

(pp. 133–140)
  • Deborah McGregor

Climate Negotiation

(pp. 151–160)
  • Rosemary Lyster


(pp. 161–168)
  • Neville Nicholls

Knowing Earth

(pp. 169–176)
  • Sheila Jasanoff


(pp. 177–184)
  • U. Rashid Sumaila
  • Daniel Pauly
  • Elsie Sunderland
  • Charlotte Wagner


(pp. 195–202)
  • Navin Ramankutty
  • Hannah Wittman

Oceans 2020

(pp. 203–212)
  • David M. Karl

Earth and Plastic

(pp. 213–220)
  • Roland Geyer

Fresh Water

(pp. 221–230)
  • Janet G. Hering


(pp. 231–238)
  • Candis Callison

Space Junk

(pp. 239–246)
  • Alice Gorman

Saving the Boat

(pp. 247–252)
  • Zoe Craig-Sparrow
  • Grace Nosek-Sparrow


Philippe D. Tortell

Head of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at University of British Columbia