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Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate + Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change + The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426205406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426205408
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nobel Prize winner Schneider offers his unique perspective on four decades of global-warming science and politics. He drops names as varied as James Hansen, Stephen Jay Gould, Margaret Mead, and Al Gore while detailing the political fight to bring climate-change science into the national (and global) conversation. Of particular interest are discussions of the work accomplished at conferences and meetings over the years. Schneider’s insights into how scientific theory evolves and adjusts to new research and test methods effectively explains how clashes develop between scientists and political pundits who focus narrowly on single statements and early conclusions and miss the long course of careful proven study. Schneider’s chronology is a bit disjointed, and swipes at climate-change naysayers lower the discourse to a level his subject matter does not deserve. However, as a personal history of the environmental issue of our time, Schneider’s insider’s overview proves his thesis that the long, difficult road has been worth it. --Colleen Mondor

Review

"Science As A Contact Sport unfolds the incredible true story of the struggle to understand the science and focus the world’s attention on the climate crisis. I have worked with Steve Schneider on the scientific and policy aspects of climate change for decades, and find him adept at bringing scientific clarity to this critical issue--explaining its many facets to concerned policymakers and the public." -Al Gore

"Why haven’t we halted global warming in the decades since it became recognized as a major threat to human well-being? What should we do to halt it now? In this crystal-clear, moving, funny book, Stephen Schneider makes a highly complex subject understandable." - Jared Diamond, author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel," and "Collapse"

"Stephen Schneider is masterful at translating enormously complex scientific principles into a language that we can all comprehend."—Robert Redford

"Give Stephen Schneider points for prescience...The ominous warnings that he and other climatologists sounded...are coming true
sooner.... –Newsweek.com

More About the Author

Stephen H. Schneider is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor of Biology, and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. He served as a National Center For Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist from 1972-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project in 1973. He focuses on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He has consulted for federal agencies and White House staff in seven consecutive administrations. He has been involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in every assessment since 1988. More recently he was Coordinating Lead Author, Working Group II, Chapter 19, "Assessing Key Vulnerabilities and the Risk from Climate Change" and a core writer for the Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report. He along with four generations of IPCC authors received a collective Nobel Peace Prize for their joint efforts in 2007.Schneider has already begun to help structure the Fifth IPCC assessment (AR5), and was a delegate to the AR5 Scoping Meeting in Venice in July 2009.

Elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002, Schneider received the American Association for the Advancement of Science/ Westinghouse Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology and a MacArthur Fellowship for integrating and interpreting the results of global climate research. Founder (1975) and still editor of the interdisciplinary journal Climatic Change, he has authored or co-authored over 500 books, scientific papers, proceedings, legislative testimonies, edited books and chapters, reviews and editorials and has been featured in numerous televisions and film productions (please see attached vita). Dr. Schneider counsels policy makers, corporate executives, and non-profit stakeholders about using risk management strategies in climate-policy decision-making, given the uncertainties in future projections of global climate change and related impacts. He is actively engaged in improving public understanding of science and the environment through extensive media communication and public outreach. He has created a very comprehensive website on climate issues for the attentive public: climatechange.net. Many of his talks and appearances can be found on Youtube.

He is a cancer survivor since 2001, and helped design a new protocol for "maintenance therapy" for his rare mantle cell lymphoma. The story is described in his book "The Patient From Hell" and in his cancer website, patientfromhell.org.

Customer Reviews

The book is good for arming oneself for debate on global climate change.
Patrick Reeves
For a reader curious about the personalities involved in this critical topic, this book will be of great value.
Sreeram Ramakrishnan
Stephen Schneider is one of the world's most esteemed climate scientists.
B. Case

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By John Mashey on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
1) This is fine, first-hand book on the evolution of climate science over the last 30 years or so with nuanced descriptions of the science arguments and the difficulties in explaining science to policymakers and the public. Thank Stephen especially for the long campaign to regularize the uncertainty descriptions used in the IPCC 3rd and 4th Reviews. Other reviews have covered many of the topics I might have, so I won't repeat, but will offer something different.

2) If you want more history, start with:
Spencer Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine), which also has an equivalent website at the American Institute of Physics.
Then, read two of Stephen's earlier books:
Global Warming: Are We Entering the Greenhouse Century?, 1989. andLaboratory Earth the Planetary Gamble We (Science Masters), 1996.
This sequence offers a good look into what was known or not *at the time, not just by hindsight*, how real science works, and how scientists weigh data and competing hypotheses. Much of real science is trying to bound uncertainty, and good scientists change their minds. Some things that were theoretically very likely in 1989, but had not yet emerged from the noise into statistical significance, have long since done so.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MoosePond VINE VOICE on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must admit to having been a fence-sitter on the whole global warming/climate change controversy, not knowing which side to believe. However, this book has moved me firmly into the believer camp as it very logically lays out what's been discovered, why it's important and what it means to the future of our increasingly fragile planet. Highly recommended for anyone willing to take a serious, open-minded look at what is a very serious issue. It's well-written and makes its point(s) without the rhetoric and emotionalism that's so often present.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. F. Miller on February 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a science book especially a climate science book unlike any other. The reader gets not just the outcome of the scientific debate nor the "two sides," rather Schneider immerses us in the process of science. If science is a contact sport, and from all accounts (not just this one) it is, then climate science is the Superbowl. Following Schneider on his long journey through the science left me with the following impressions.

1) It is amazing that a science that, in any organized sense, is only about forty years old has accomplished so much in such a short time span. It has involved tens of thousands of scientists from dozens of disciplines and sub-disciplines inventing a "science" in an effort to comprehend one of the most complex phenomenon ever studied (or created) by humans.

2) Climate science is a science that by its very nature involves the amassing of mountains of evidence that point towards the elimination of uncertainties and the statement of probabilities--and not to exact formulas or equations. It has to consider non-linear events, thresholds and tipping points as basic components of its understanding of the complex phenomenon we call climate.

3) Climate science has undertaken these investigations while under attack by the largest and best-funded corporations and economic interests in human history. Where there is not opposition from the fossil fuel industry and its allies, there are an untold number of economic players whose fortunes will be affected by any rearrangement of the rules of the market required by the desperate straits we have put ourselves in.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David J Kent on December 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Read this book. Seriously. Read it. Those who are familiar with the IPCC and with the climate change discussions will have heard of Stephen H. Schneider. Not only did he receive the collective 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the IPCC (along with Al Gore), Schneider has played an important and often pivotal role in the development of the science over the last four decades. He has also been the focus of much of the climate denialist attacks.

In Science as a Contact Sport, published in late 2009, Schneider gives us a reasoned, informative and insightful look into both the history of climate change science and the inner workings of the IPCC process in developing the first four Assessment Reports. Essentially this is a memoir, and through his personal experiences from the center of the scientific debate Schneider opens a window into how the scientific consensus was developed over more than forty years of focused research, as well as glimpses into the initial discovery of the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in causing a warming of the earth.

In a writing style that mirrors his real-life tendency of being both in-your-face and humorous, his use of anecdote and metaphor are instrumental in getting the point across and tunneling into the real issues. Climate deniers, as he calls them, have used his earlier work on the cooling of the atmosphere due to aerosol releases to suggest that he is a scientist for any temperature. This is just one example of the way denialists misrepresent his work and the work of others to push their free market agendas.
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