Written for a popular audience, Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can't Afford to Lose gives an overview of the Earth system and its evolution over time. The book answers questions about climate change and climate modeling and assesses options for dealing with the potential effects of the ever-increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Author Stephen Schneider indicates that large concentrations of greenhouse gases made the early Earth much warmer than it is today, despite the fact that solar radiation was 25% weaker. He presents various ideas about biological and inorganic feedbacks that might have operated on geological times-cales to bring carbon dioxide levels down to present levels.