Throughout the book, certain themes are maintained:
* energy sources underlying disasters
* plate tectonics and climate change
* Earth processes operating in rock, water, and atmosphere
* significance of geologic time
* complexities of multiple variables operating simultaneously
* detailed and readable case histories.
The text aims to explain important principles about the Earth and then develop further understanding through numerous case histories. The book includes recent happenings such as the Western United States wildfires during the summer 2000 and the Los Alamos prescribed burn, also occurring in 2000.