Cover image for Burning planet : the story of fire through time / Andrew C. Scott.
Burning planet : the story of fire through time / Andrew C. Scott.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2018

Physical Description:
xi, 231 pages, 22 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some colour), map ; 24 cm
Subject Term:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
577.24 SCO Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Raging wildfires have devastated vast areas of California and Australia in recent years, and predictions are that we will see more of the same in coming years, as a result of climate change. But this is nothing new. Since the dawn of life on land, large-scale fires have played their part inshaping life on Earth.Andrew Scott tells the whole story of fire's impact on our planet's atmosphere, climate, vegetation, ecology, and the evolution of plant and animal life. It has caused mass extinctions, and it has propelled the spread of flowering plants. The exciting evidence we can now draw on has been preserved in fossilized charcoal, found in rocks hundreds of millions of years old, from all over the world. These reveal incredibly fine details of prehistoric plants, and tell us about climates from deep in earth's history. They also give usinsight into how early hominids and humans tamed fire and used it. Looking at the impact of wildfires in our own time, Scott also looks forward to how we might better manage them in future, as climate change has an increasing effect on our world.

Author Notes

Andrew Scott is Emeritus Professor of Geology and a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has co-authored and edited several academic books on fire, most recently Fire on Earth: An Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), with David M. J. S. Bowman, William J.Bond, Stephen J. Pyne, and Martin E. Alexander. He appears regularly on radio and television science programmes.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Introducing firep. 1
2 Getting dirty: what charcoal can tell usp. 29
3 Kindlingp. 55
4 The rise, fall, and rise of firep. 79
5 Fire, flowers, and dinosaursp. 97
6 Fire and the coming of the modern worldp. 121
7 Prometheusp. 147
8 The future of firep. 163
Appendix: International Geological Time Scalep. 179
Glossaryp. 181
Notesp. 185
Further readingp. 211
List of figure creditsp. 213
List of plate creditsp. 217
Publisher's Acknowledgementsp. 219
Indexp. 221