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Global Warming and Political Intimidation: How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up Paperback – June 21, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558498699
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558498693
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


At a time when scientists need to become better advocates for the integrity of science itself, it is heartening to read this clear-headed and compelling account from Raymond Bradley. Anyone interested in the politics and science of global warming should read this book.

(Chris Mooney, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future)

Ray Bradley did what every young scientist dreams of: made a major technical contribution to science that really mattered to the world. With colleagues Michael Mann and Malcolm Hughes, Bradley built the 'hockey stick,' the statistical analysis that showed that recent warming is outside the range of historic natural variability His reward for this was not the National Medal of Science, but harassment by members of the United States Congress. Bradley writes that he remains optimistic that a solution to global warming can be found, but given the story he tells in this book, it's hard to see why.

(Naomi Oreskes, coauthor of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming)

Ray Bradley is one of the scientific heroes of the fight to slow global warming -- and so, like many other researchers, he's taken endless lumps from the industry-funded pols trying desperately to delay action. His story is both fascinating and cautionary -- about not just our planetary climate, but our political one as well.

(Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet)

Bradley's book describes how scientists who attempt to understand global climate dynamics have been intimidated and harassed by the denial machine. Bradley is one of the authors of the famous 'hockey stick,' a graph in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that clearly shows the sudden uptick in global average temperatures beginning in the twentieth century. Because the graph is so clear and dramatic, it has been the subject of sustained and arcane attacks by the climate denial machine. Bradley's book provides an enlightening look at this controversy, which turned obscure technical details like principal component analysis and archived Gaspé tree ring data into the stuff of high drama.

(Natural Hazards Observer)

Bradley details the chilling effect [political] investigations have had on the conduct of science and how politicians have become nonexpert reviewers of science.

(Science News)

[Raymond Bradley] tells the inside story of what he says it was like to be the target of intimidation in the last decade by powerful figures in politics and government who tried hard to suppress scientific findings on global warming in favor of their own political message.

(The Sentinel 1900-01-00)

Bradley's book is a valuable insight into the harrying that many climate scientists have had to endure over the past two decades. It lets us see what it is like to be on the receiving end of political intimidation and ranting deniers in the media and blogosphere...Bradley uses the word malevolent only once, and evil not at all, but both words came to my mind frequently.

(Bryan Walker Celsias 1900-01-00)

Along with his sharp words for his climate detractors, Bradley also voices his sharp ideas and bright hopes that society still might 'at least try to find a path that limits the worst case scenarios.'

(The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media)

In about 360 pages, Bradley has written an essential guide to the issues and problems faced due to global warming in the United States and the world, issues that already have affected every person on earth.... This book is not directly a call to arms; however, any reader interested in the now unstoppable effects of global warming may be inspired to take some action beyond merely reading about it.

(Frank E. Grant Sierra Club West Virginia)

Bradley's book describes the shock of being yanked out of the scholarly realm and into the arena of partisan politics.

(The Boston Globe)

Bradley's book offers candid detail about subjective factors in scientific publications as well as congressional hearings. Recommended.


Tactics used by those in power to suppress scientific information make for pointed chapters that both expose the global worming issues and the underlying politics affecting information development.

(Midwest Review)

Government officials used the political system to tie-up Bradley's research for several years and to belittle the consequences of global warming, dangers, the author carefully describes.

(ForeSight Politics)

Bradley's argument also reaches beyond global warming, addressing fundamental concerns about scientific integrity and academic freedom. Can this ill-conceived politicization of science lead us to a strengthening of safeguards -- especially in the face of declining tenure rates and the associated loss of academic freedom protections? Will colleges and universities continue to uphold their commitment to support scholars who challenge powerful interests? Bradley's news on this front is encouraging.


Climatologist Raymond Bradley has come out fighting in his new short book Global Warming and Political Intimidation. It's a lively albeit sobering narrative which recounts his and others' experience of harassment, character assassination and unfounded accusation from the politicians who serve fossil fuel interests in the US Congress.... Bradley's book is a valuable insight into the harrying that many climate scientists have had to endure over the past two decades.


From the Back Cover

Global warming is the number one environmental issue of our time, yet some prominent politicians have refused to accept scientific evidence of human responsibility and have opposed any legislation or international agreement that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. A few have gone even further and have tried to destroy the reputations of scientists researching climate change by deliberately undermining the credibility of their research. These politicians have sought to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the public and to weaken public and political support for the control of fossil fuel use.

In this powerful book, highly respected climate scientist Raymond Bradley provides the inside story from the front lines of the debate. In clear and direct language, he describes the tactics those in power have used to intimidate him and his colleagues part of a larger pattern of governmental suppression of scientific information, politics at the expense of empirically based discourse.

Speaking from his experience, Bradley exposes the fault lines in the global warming debate, while providing a concise primer on climate change. The result is a cautionary tale of how politics and science can become fatally intertwined, written by one scientist who was unwittingly ensnared in a web of political intimidation.

More About the Author

Ray Bradley grew up in England but moved to the United States when he was 21 to study at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, where he earned an M.A. and PhD. He then took a job at the University of Massachusetts, where he is now a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Director of the Climate System Research Center. He was trained as a climatologist, but became interested in paleoclimatology early in his career, and this has been his primary research focus. He received a D.Sc from Southampton University in 2003 for his contributions in paleoclimatology. He has spent a lot of time in the Canadian High Arctic, Greenland, and northern Norway, studying how climate changes have been recorded in the landscape, particularly in the sediments of lakes. He has written or edited more than a dozen books and over 200 articles on climate change. Notable books include Paleoclimatology (now in its 3rd edition), Global Warming and Political Intimidation (in English and Japanese editions) and Climate Since AD 1500 (with P.D. Jones). He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Foreign Member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In 2007 he received the Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union, and was awarded Honorary doctorates from Lancaster University (UK) in 2006 and Queen's University (Canada) in 2013.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Lufkin on September 16, 2011
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Unraveling the impact of 50 years of climate science on public policy is one of the most frustrating problems of our times. Speaking as an early researcher in the field (full disclosure: Bert Bolin was my thesis adviser), it was clear in the mid-60s that greenhouse warming would overtake cooling from soot particles. It was just at this time that Paul Crutzen worked out the cause of ozone depletion by Freon®. From the fight that industry put up to discredit Crutzen's findings, climate researchers understood early on that the energy industry was not going to accept the physics behind carbon dioxide greenhouse warming without a struggle.

Prof. Bradley's book is a careful, well documented history of how the energy industry used its political allies to squelch discussion of global warming and instead brand scientific climatology as a Trojan horse for a socialist makeover of America. The industry spent between $30 and $50 million on campaign support and PR to implement Frank Luntz's strategy memo for the GOP in 2001 (that's where "global warming" was renamed "climate change"). The GOP strategy was more successful than any of the climate science community thought possible. Despite all objective evidence of an actively warming climate, the denial machine muddied the water enough so that public opinion inexorably swung toward first skepticism, then outright denial. Bradley meticulously traces the process of manipulating politicians and opinion in a fascinating history of backstage operations.

However, this is like reading an authoritative reconstruction of an airliner crash. Just now it looks as though this strategy has succeeded. The word "climate" never escapes President Obama's lips and the entire gamut of the GOP hopefuls runs from deep skepticism to categorical denial.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David J Kent on September 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a fascinating - and disturbing - book. For those who don't recognize the name, Raymond Bradley is a climate scientist and the Director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is also the "B" in MBH98 and MBH99, otherwise known as the two papers co-written with Michael Mann and Malcolm Hughes that introduced what became known as the "hockey stick" to climate science. So in keeping with the title, Bradley is no stranger to being the target of intimidation.

The book unfolds with Bradley (and Mann and Hughes) all getting called in 2005 to provide testimony and documentation of virtually every project, every grant, every paper, and all the data behind those papers (and every other paper they ever wrote) to a House committee chaired by Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas. The premise? Because Barton had seen an article in the Wall Street Journal questioning the hockey stick. The questions had been raised by two non-scientists tied in with free market lobbying organizations. And so the intimidation by Republican politicians begins. Or, as he notes, continues.

Bradley's conversational manner is easy and pleasant to read, though his frustration and sometimes even anger at being harassed does show through occasionally. His first hand insights into how the denialist industry harangues climate scientists are something that all of us should understand. Bradley provides us with a glimpse into how politicians attack science when they find it inconvenient. And it's not a pretty picture.
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Format: Paperback
I would read Oreskes' "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. first for an overview of how commercial interests manipulate the political process to prevent regulation and receive outrageous amounts of public money.

Then I'd read this book to learn the specifics of the attack. This book also has an easy-to-understand explanation of the research that led them to their conclusions (about the hockey stick graph, made famous by Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth"), and why the attacks of other scientists were bogus and not published by good peer-reviewed journals.

The details of the right-wing attack on science in this book make you really feel the pain and suffering inflicted on scientists like Bradley. Fighting the attack takes up so much of their time they can't continue to do research, no doubt another reason to go after them.

The main reason the "hockey stick" teams research was attacked was to reduce the credibility of the 2007 IPCC report.

It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry when politicians bought by special interests, such as Senator Inhofe, invite a science fiction writer to testify about climate change. Michal Crichton has a background in medicine, and as Bradley puts it "I really don't follow the logic. If I had a medical problem, I wouldn't want to be treated by a climatologist. So what possesses a doctor (an M.D., that is) to feel qualified to sound off about climate science is beyond me. As a fully paid-up climatologist of many years' standing, I know there is an immense amount about climate science that I don't know.
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