"The story of carbon is an exciting journey and Eric Roston is a super storyteller!"

Roald Hoffmann, 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

"Roston is a whirlwind... gives readers a substantial context to the sound bites concerning climate change that are flung at us with little explanation... lucid and occasionally disturbing."
Pub Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews
"Wow... You just blew my mind."
Stephen Colbert
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"An enticing new book... a success, especially in dealing with climate change... fluent writing... teeming with unexpected information and is a grand tour of the Universe."
— Sir John Meurig Thomas


Library Journal: Best of the Year


"The man is Eric Roston. The book is The Carbon Age." —Stephen Colbert

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Image copyright ©Comedy Partners
Acclaim for The Carbon Age!

The story of carbon—the building block of life that is, ironically, humanity's great threat.

Newsweek: "This elegant volume takes readers on a grand tour of carbon's role in the universe, from the element's star-crossed birth billions of years ago to its role in the fossil-fuel industry and global warming."

The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin, on NPR's All Things Considered:
"Roston's book convinced me that the fastest way to understand "everything larger than an atom and smaller than a planet," is through the element carbon. It occupies a central role in the current debate about climate, but it's also found in the food we eat, the pills we pop — even high-end tennis rackets and bicycles."

Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Einstein: His Life and Universe:
"In order to understand the issue of climate change—or for that matter almost any issue relating to energy and life—it's necessary to understand carbon. Fortunately, it's an absolutely fascinating element, as Eric Roston shows in this delightful book. His narrative is a wonderful way to relish some basic science as well as understand some of the most profound policy issues we face."

Norman R. Augustine, former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation and chairman of the study, Rising Above the Gathering Storm:
"If you thought oxygen was important wait 'til you read this brilliantly researched tale of carbon: the element that makes possible diamonds, the 'lead' in your pencil, even 'you'... and is likely to occupy many headlines in the years ahead because we can't live without it and we may not be able to live with it."

In The Carbon Age, Eric Roston evokes this essential element, its journey illuminating history from the Big Bang to modern civilization. Charting the science of carbon—how it was formed, how it came to Earth and built up—he chronicles the often surprising ways mankind has used it over centuries, and the growing catastrophe of the industrial era, leading us to now attempt to wrestle the Earth's geochemical cycle back from the brink. Blending the latest science with original reporting, Roston, a former Time journalist, makes us aware, as never before, of the seminal impact carbon has, and has had, on our lives.


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"Since carbon is so instrumental to life, and has always been, it's tempting to say that every age, from the foggy beginning, has been one of carbon... Today's Carbon Age is the Carboniferous Period in reverse—cars, power plants, and cement factories burn long-buried carbon back into the atmosphere, recombining carbon and oxygen into CO2."
From the Prologue