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Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media Paperback – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute; First Paperback Edition edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865791
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865792
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,280,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This spirited critique challenges the conventional doom saying about global warming. Climatologist Michaels acknowledges that the earth is warming because of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but he insists that the warming will probably be modest and that nature and humanity will easily adjust to it. Writing in a lucid, engaging style supported by a mountain of data, he debunks such recent scare stories as melting ice caps and glaciers, intensifying storms and droughts, species die-offs and a Day After Tomorrow–style ice age. He argues that researchers and reporters mistakenly ascribe normal fluctuations in local weather to global warming and commonly ignore the facts (reports that the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is being submerged by rising sea levels, for example, ignored research demonstrating that sea levels in that region have actually been falling). Michaels, who is a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, sometimes allows his own agenda to intrude. Advocates of the precautionary principle will note that he fails to demonstrate his claim that "there is no known, feasible policy that can stop or even slow these climate changes." And while he chalks up global warming alarmism to an unholy alliance of climatologists hungry for grants and media sensationalism, his remedy for biased science is not better science but a "wider source of bias" in the form of more funding of climatology by the fossil fuel industry. He also calls for the abolition of academic tenure—a crushing blow against an independent professorate that libertarians and their allies in the world of academia view as the intellectual wellspring of the regulatory state. Nonetheless, Michaels’s challenge to global warming orthodoxy should invigorate the debate over climate change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

"This powerful, lucid, fluent book is a triumph of science over superstition. Pat Michaels, a gifted climatologist, tells the straight truth about the hysteria and ignorance surrounding climate change and how the scientific establishment has been led astray."
—James K. Glassman, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

"Pat Michaels has written another fascinating and useful book. . . . I urge everyone, regardless of the extent of his science background, to read Meltdown. But be prepared to change your way of thinking. Just let go of your preconceived ideas, strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride!"
—George H. Taylor, Past President, American Association of State Climatologists

"Patrick Michaels fully exploits his incomparable wit and credentialed expertise to dismantle the claim that catastrophic climate change is upon us. Using dozens of examples, this working-stiff climatologist exposes the exaggerations and outright falsehoods promoted by a media industry hungry for ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ stories."
—John R. Christy, Director, Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

282 of 334 people found the following review helpful By Warthog_1 on October 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For those of you whose understanding of climate change or global warming comes from the main stream media (New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, CBS-TV, et al) this book is a must read, that is if you subscribed to the "chicken little" thesis that the sky is falling, or in the case of climate change that we will be unable to live on planet earth because rising global temperatures will destroy civilization.

The sub-title of Meltdown reads "the Predictable Distortion of global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media" and in this he admirably succeeds in documenting and proving. The book is a compendium of headlines and stories found in the media mentioned as well as in a number of scientific journals, mainly Science and Nature. He also addresses some of the more outlandish stories, press releases, and declarations by organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Wild Life federation. Dr. Michaels provide chapter and verse, 12 of them, documenting the egregious errors and in some case patently false information foisted on the public at large by all of these organizations. That said the main stream media comes in for the most criticism.

His method is really quite simple. He looks at the data gathered in the real world and uses it to confirm or rebut the hypothesis that anthropogenic warming is causing glaciers to shrink and retreat, is the root cause of rising sea levels that are about to inundate the island of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean or that malaria is making a come back due to warming trends or a plethora of other disasters just over the horizon.

Though he doesn't explicitly say so, the book amply illustrates the incompetence, ignorance, and lack of skepticism by the science writers, as well as their employers, in the main stream media.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Dan on April 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in climatology read Meltdown. It's a short, easy read.

Whether you are a lifetime member of the Sierra Club or a lobbyist for the coal industry, Michaels' cites the same publicly available data used to support the myriad of negative global warming scenarios to dispel many popular beliefs.

Meltdown does not dismiss global warming, although it questions its severity and impact. Meltdown does question whether warming is due primarily to human activity or, more likely, to solar and other large-scale natural cycles that living things have adapted to many times before. The author does not dispute that human beings have influenced the environment, but does not believe we can affect global warming in any meaningful way by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Meltdown's overarching sidebar is about how good people (scientists) go astray when their careers (lives) depend on networks and hierarchies (the paradigmatic status quo) who influence purse strings controlled from places of power (primarily governments) indirectly through political pressure (me and you, the media, and environmentalist groups). The resulting feedback loop leads to prestigious journals awash in bad papers that mysteriously pass peer-review while good, less tabloidesque science is ignored. The resulting avalanche of false claims and hair-raising global warming scenarios strike fear into our hearts so that we donate to environmental groups and write elected representatives pleading for increased funding to study global warming.

Meltdown was published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank often derided by the left for having been co-founded by Charles Koch, a self-made oilman, and supported by major US corporations (although 70% of their funding is from individuals).
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73 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Reed on January 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
MELTDOWN by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels attempts to shed light on the "Global Warming" debate but as the subtitle states; "The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media", the book takes a broader view of not only the scientific implications but societal and institutional issues that the discussion has raised. Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, doesn't deny that some of the earth is warming and some of it is cooling, his position is that it is a natural cycle and that the impact of human activity is not significant enough to justify the "hysteria" produced by some scientists, politicians and media outlets.

The major portion of the book provides the basis for his position; it is well documented with graphs, charts and materials that traces the climate for at least the last 100 years substantiating that there have been periods that have been hotter, dryer, cooler or wetter previous to today when there were fewer "greenhouse gases". Intermixed with the data are quotes by scientists or politicians as well as newspaper or magazine copy that builds a case for greenhouse gas induced "global warming" where none seems to exist.

He talks of a peer review process where scientific articles questioning GW are subjected to an institutional bias against these arguments resulting in many not being published. This bias has an impact on the university system because to receive tenure and move through the ranks, the younger instructors have to be published. Michaels believes the system doesn't produce enough independent thought.
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