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Heaven And Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science Hardcover – May 1, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 167 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...the best book on science and scientists I have ever read." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

"...a brilliantly argued book... Heaven and Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704371669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704371668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ian Plimer is a Professor of Geology with a background in mining. He is a strong independent thinker, with a particular flair for interdisciplinary integration and overview, although his books are a bit hard to read. They contain a lot of dense information, but are perhaps weak on highlighting what is more important, and at times a little too emotional and bulldozing for some.

This is a timely book that attempts to survey ALL the basic data and debate related to climate change, rather than cherry-picking solely in the interests of green ideology. The book is very similar to Lomborg's `The Skeptical Environmentalist' (with just as many back-up footnotes-over 2000-so at worst it is at least a useful reference for alterative views and debates).

There are serious claims in this book; a general one being that data and debate about climate change is being suppressed by green ideology. Here are some assertions:

* There is no scientific consensus on the causes of recent (~last 150 years) global warming.
* Data and debate from solar physics, geological, archaeological, and historical circles is ignored in the media and within the political process.
* Gross, unscientific, major distortions of data and debate is occurring, largely due to ideological agendas, and parallels Soviet Union agricultural science and policies.
* Amongst other examples, scientific fraud has been committed with relation to the `hockeystick' graph of Mann et al. regarding temperature in the last ~1000 years, which has been widely circulated (eg IPCC 2001), and which shows distorted temperature trends.
* The influence of changes particularly in the sun, and in cloudiness, cosmic rays and volcanoes on climate changes has been under-estimated.
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Format: Paperback
I am a lay (that is scientifically uneducated) reader, with an inclination against the thesis of anthropogenic forcing--less pretentiously "global warming". (My reasons: I don't like the spectacle of rich folks pulling up the ladder of economic progress against those a generation or so behind them). I expected to find arguments in "Heaven and Earth" to support my leanings and I did, but I was also alarmed by the book's weaknesses which have made it easy to dismiss.

We see this by examining how much the author succeeds in making his arguments against the three bases upon which we might accept the thesis of anthropogenic forcing: theory, evidence and modelling.

As to theory, the author restates Freeman Dyson's telling point that carbon dioxide, so far from being a poison is a plant food: that's why we introduce it into greenhouses at 2½ times atmospheric concentrations. (Though mind you, greenhouses are hotter than most of us would wish to tolerate.) He also draws our attention to the complexities bearing upon terrestrial temperature, among them variation in solar orbits and radiation, the chemistry of ice, ocean currents, the variety of greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere in the natural course of things and much else. Unfortunately, his argument is so discursive and repetitive as to give the "and another thing" impression of someone uncertain of the quality of his own material. It may simply be that he needed a tougher editor, but it leaves the thoughtful reader with an uneasy feeling, particularly as most--like me--will not be competent to test the science or have the time or inclination to check the 2311 references.
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Format: Paperback
Ian Plimer is perhaps best known as the geologist who debunked creationism in "Telling Lies for God". Here he turns his attention to the global warming beliefs that are now resulting in huge (possibly disastrous) policy changes by governments in the hope of avoiding "climate change". In "Heaven and Earth", I think Plimer does pretty well.

First off though, if you are expecting a simple read, this book is perhaps not it. Not that it is difficult to read, but it is technically dense, the average page having maybe ten references to academic papers to support its claims. And it has its mistakes. There is a diagram on temperature forecasts which is not properly explained, another one which, so it is claimed on the web, has been withdrawn by its author for errors. Also the author has a recurring habit of writing the opposite of what he means; it usually happens on unimportant points, but it distracts from following the argument. For example, he writes that the early half of the little ice age was more variable than the latter half (p 75), then a little later says the opposite (p 79). I noticed maybe ten such examples on my way through. They are not by any means fatal to his argument, but I am sure his opponents would dig them out and present them as if they were. But in a 500 page book, absolute correctness from cover to cover is, I think, far too high an expectation. The real question is: does he carry his main arguments?

I believe that he does. He shows, for instance, that CO2 in geological history has been up to 25 times higher than it now is, and that in this era it is at its lowest in the entire history of life on Earth. He shows how malaria is a disease of poverty, not of temperature, and has existed in England in the coldest of times.
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