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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A meteorologist for 35 years loves it!
This book is amazing. It's so hard to find any book that deals with global warming in any way that doesn't go to one extreme or the other. Instead, Chris Mooney gives a very balanced view of the debate on the global warming/hurricane connection. The science is explained well, and simply enough for a layman, so anyone with even a slight knowledge or hurricanes and/or...
Published on July 20, 2007 by Glenn Schwartz

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Spinning Debate
Hurricanes have been a perplexing phenomenon for humans. They appear as beautiful spirals on radar, but in reality they destroy everything in their path. Within the last couple of decades, there has been an increasing concern about global warming and the impacts it has on humans and nature. In particular, scientists have been paying close attention to the development and...
Published on December 5, 2010 by Hurricanes_unite


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A meteorologist for 35 years loves it!, July 20, 2007
This book is amazing. It's so hard to find any book that deals with global warming in any way that doesn't go to one extreme or the other. Instead, Chris Mooney gives a very balanced view of the debate on the global warming/hurricane connection. The science is explained well, and simply enough for a layman, so anyone with even a slight knowledge or hurricanes and/or global warming would follow it easily.
The most interesting part for me is the personal stories of the main scientists involved in the debate. It's easy to assume that anyone who is such a stubborn denier of global warming such as Dr. Bill Gray would be a political conservative. It's clear from this book that he is not. The way politics weighs on such legendary scientists as Drs. Gray and Emanuel is fascinating. No one ever taught us how not to have our views distorted by the media and used for political agendas when we were in college.

Glenn Schwartz
Chief Meteorologist
NBC10 Philadelphia
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science writing at its best, July 1, 2007
To provide a frame of reference for this review, I and my colleagues Peter Webster and Greg Holland are among the scientists that are featured prominently in Storm World. Our involvement in the issue of hurricanes and global warming began when we published an article in Science shortly before the landfall of Hurricane Rita, where we reported a doubling of the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes globally since 1970. When Chris Mooney first approached me with his idea for writing a book on this topic, I was somewhat skeptical. I couldn't see how this could be accomplished given the rapid changes in the science (I was worried the book would be outdated before it was published), the complexities of the technical aspects of the subject, a concern about how the individual scientists would be treated and portrayed, and a concern that the political aspects of the issue would be handled in a partisan way. Over the course of the past year and a half, it became apparent that Mooney was researching this issue extremely thoroughly and was developing a good grasp of both the history and technical aspects of the subject. Upon finally reading the book, I can only say Storm World has far exceeded any hope or expectation that I could have had for a book on this subject. The book is surprisingly rich in technical detail, and Mooney has grasped the nuances of the breadth of scientific arguments and uncertainties. He provides a fascinating history with rich insights into the current controversy. The individual scientists are portrayed accurately as well as sympathetically and colorfully. The political aspects are treated in an insightful and nonpartisan manner. I am most impressed by the fresh insights provided by this book, which besides being a "good read," Storm World is an important and timely contribution that deserves careful consideration in the dialogue and debate on hurricane policy in the U.S. Storm World is science journalism at its absolute best.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Science Book of 2007 So Far, July 20, 2007
"Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming" is the best science book of 2007 which I have read so far, and one which clearly deserves all the praise it has earned already. It is an exceptional piece of science journalism which should earn awards for journalist Chris Mooney, the science writer for the Washingtion, DC-based SEEDS magazine. It is even more impressive a piece of brilliant scientific journalism when you realize that both the author and the magazine he works for have a strong liberal bias - which admittedly was quite apparent in his previous book "The Republican War On Science" - and yet, to his everlasting credit, Mooney has endeavored quite well to ensure that his book remains as nonpartisan as possible, treating with ample respect, all of the principal players depicted, from flamboyant Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray - a staunch critic of global warming - to MIT theoretical meteorologist Kerry Emanuel - among those who recognize a potential link between global warming and hurricane intensity and severity - to Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry, a co-author of an important recent paper which may support such a potential linkage. Without question, Mooney's book is a revealing, often insightful, examination of Hurricane meteorological research from 2004 to 2006 and of the relevant political and media issues which become associated with it, regrettably in the aftermath of the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Mooney offers a vivid portrayal of the history of meteorology, emphasizing research on hurricanes, from the early 19th Century to the present, in the first third of his book. From Mooney's perspective, meteorology is seen as an intellectual struggle between empiricists who've relied exclusively on collecting data and modelers willing to employ complex mathematical equations and computer simulations in trying to get a better understanding for current and future climatic trends. This a distinction that is not unique to meteorology itself, but indeed, in much of science, demonstrating how "messy" a business science can be. But it is an important distinction which Mooney has made simply because these two distinct groups of meteorologists and climatologists have shaped not only the scope, but also, regrettably, the tenor of the debates over the validity of global warming and its possible relevance to the formation, relative severity and frequency of hurricances forming in the North Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere around the globe.

As a graduate student of evolutionary biology and paleobiology nearly twenty years ago, I was keenly aware of the raging debates in these sciences from the tempo and mode of evolution - as expressed in assessing the validity of the evolutionary theory of "Punctuated Equilibrium" and the evolutionary implications of stasis - to kin and group selection, and of course, sociobiology too - and last, but not least, systematic biology (cladistics vs. phenetics vs. "evolutionary" systematics). And yet, none of them - with the possible exception of sociobiology - was as replete with the ample harsh attacks on the data, scientific methods used, and personalities involved as it's been amply demonstrated here by Mooney, in the second section of his book, recounting the recent debates between the empiricists led by William Gray and the "modelers" led by Kerry Emanuel and others. Here Mooney truly excels in letting the partisans from both sides speak for themselves, citing both the relevant important scientific papers and the scientific meetings where several debates were held on the implications of global warming to hurricane research, in a section that will especially interest both historians and sociologists of science.

It's only in the third - and concluding - section of "Storm World" where Mooney finally reveals his own personal bias. Here he recognizes that the data does show a trend towards increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes, at least in the North Atlantic Ocean. But he also realizes that this data doesn't demonstrate definitely, the strong possibility that this trend is due to global warming. And yet, he recognizes the importance of acting to minimise global warming, even though our knowledge and understanding of it with respect to hurricane formation and intensity is still quite speculative. He also commends modelers like Emanuel for constructing testable, data-driven models, in stark contrast to others like Gray who have argued emphatically for relying on an empirical approach to hurricane research. Finally, he offers scientists two intriguing recommendations with regards to pursuing research and on how they can successfully communicate it to politicians and others in the public. He strongly encourages scientists to resist the temptation of being wedded firmly to one particular research methodology - alluding of course to William Gray's blind adherence to empiricism - observing that others may yet be equally important in yielding both new data and fresh insights. He also recommends that scientists become better communicators - and educators - so that those who are the ultimate beneficiaries of their research, both politicans and the general public at large, can make sound, reasonable decisions based upon their understanding of what is indeed good scientific research; it's a recommendation that I can strongly endorse too, especially in light of ongoing efforts to introduce Intelligent Design and other flavors of creationism into American science classrooms as "viable alternatives" to contemporary evolutionary biology.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming, July 14, 2007
By 
This book presents a very insightful, comprehensive, and refreshingly scientific analysis from all sides--empirical to theoretical--of the "hurricane-global warming" debate. It is very well-researched and written (though at times a bit repetitive), and is crammed with lots of factual information about the meteorologists who are at the forefront of shaping the future direction of research in the "hurricane-climate" debate. Chris Mooney succeeds in laying out all sides of the wide-ranging research viewpoints in this field without taking sides or pontificating his own biases or opinions. He even-handedly maintains his objectivity throughout his discussion, yet leaves the reader with lots of ideas, information, and questions to ponder. I think this book would make an excellent addition to any post-baccalaureate course whose core curriculum relates to climate change or hurricane modeling. Buy and read this book; you won't be disappointed!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most significant addition to current issues in meteorology..., October 11, 2007
It was probably a coincidence that this book reached our library just as I started teaching an online meteorology class at a local university. Whether or not, I found it invaluable in directing the discussions for this class since global warming is the most significant current issue for this science, and all roads/students/newspapers etc. lead directly to the issue.

For such a topic that is wrought with both political and emotional issues, I thought Chris Mooney did a wonderful job of presenting all the sides. There are never just one or two sides in any science. I saw that when I did research in HIV encephalitis in med school. It was amazing not only the good research that was done and reported but also the quacks that came out of the woodwork. They could have done reasonable and valid research prior to their introduction of mistaken theories and concepts, but boy, if you insisted they were wrong...even if it did turn out later they were wrong, they would cling to those theories like velcro. Not only did they cling to the theories, but if they couldn't get published in recognized peer reviewed journals, they started up their own journal!

This inability of both scientists and politicians to admit to mistakes about previously held beliefs is a real problem in science. Not just in meteorology, though I can see from Mooney's book that due to the attention that hurricanes brought to global warming, these guys who are often social inept were thrown into a maelstrom they didn't have the foggiest idea how to contend with (weather puns definitely intended).

I recommended this book to my students, and I don't do that often. I will continue to refer back to this book because it put very well the divides that not only exist in science, but even among communities and families concerning this issue (my husband is a wait-and-see guy, while I am one of those people who think we should do whatever we can possibly do to minimize our impact on climate).

Great book...great discussion.

Karen Sadler
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important science books of the year, June 24, 2007
As a member of the National Book Critics Circle, I have recommended this title to our Awards Committee.

Here is part of a longer review from my Science Shelf web site:

On May 23, 2005, three months before Hurricane Katrina started churning the Atlantic Ocean, Chris Mooney, Washington correspondent for Seed magazine, published an article in the American Prospect Online warning about the vulnerability of his native New Orleans to a direct hit by a powerful hurricane.

Katrina was not quite the storm Mooney had envisioned in his article. It was powerful--category 5 at its peak--but it had weakened to category 3 by the time it made landfall. And it wasn't quite a direct hit.

The levees were supposed to withstand such a storm, but they failed. In the aftermath, Mooney's "piece ricocheted around the internet," bringing added attention to his just published first book, the meticulously researched and provocative The Republican War on Science (RWOS).

Now a new hurricane season has begun with the publication of Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming, Mooney's latest foray into the contentious intersection of science and politics. This time, his research produced a much less partisan conclusion....

[O]n the question of how global warming would change hurricanes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclusion is much less certain [than of the human cause for global warming itself]. Warmer seas might produce more frequent or more severe hurricanes, but many other atmospheric and climate factors also contribute to storm development.

To climate scientists, this is an important and exciting open research question....

The question is also central to Storm World. The book captures not only the scientific and political stories, but also the personal stories of those involved on all sides of this important scientific and political issue. It begins with a history of how scientists' understanding of hurricanes has developed over two centuries.

There has always been a creative tension, usually played out between dominant personalities with different scientific approaches. On one side are the empiricists who emphasize collecting data. On the other are those who seek the underlying physical principles.

Today, the latter group is armed with supercomputers and mathematical climate models, which they are constantly refining and in which many of the former group place little confidence.

Therein lies the disagreement. Predicting the climate of a future greenhouse Earth requires more than the weather data from the familiar planet Earth of the recent past. The empiricists focus on an apparent natural multi-decadal storm cycle. The modelers view the same data as the result of changing emissions from changes in fossil-fuel burning engines and power plants.

Mooney genuinely seems to admire them all, visionaries and curmudgeons alike. But he seems to question whether today's political argument has led to polarization rather than creative disagreement....

In writing Storm World, Mooney needed to be both the empiricist who gathers the data and the analyst who puts that data in context so his readers can understand its implications.

He succeeded admirably in both roles.

About the reviewer: Physicist and author Fred Bortz writes books for young readers about weather and other phenomena on Earth and other planets.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Earth May Spin, but Journalism Shouldn't, July 15, 2007
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This is not Hollywood and it is not Talk Radio. Mooney has written a passionate book about how hurricane events unfolded in 2004 and 2005 in the Atlantic Basin, and how climate researchers reacted to the storm events, and to each other. Not all of it was pretty, but very much came to be overstated in both journalism and politics. Mooney gives us the drama without giving us the dirt.

I am surprised by the moderate viewpoint. Since Mooney took the time to get to know William Gray, he has developed some appreciation for Gray's motivations and viewpoint, in my opinion. The result is a rare but real book that should be remembered, rather than a bestselling fabricated slant that is quickly disgarded.

Besides being a testimony to the puzzling relationship between hurricane intensity and global warming, the book is a case study on how scientific communities resolve conflict. One has to appreciate the way scientists have to compete for slim research dollars. Sometimes there is more than one good way to go about good science, and so conclusions can differ. Then there are journalists that want to sell scientific research to an unsuspecting audience in the form of a story, and to do so the journalist must market it as being incredible, glamorous, and positive. In other words they spin the story. Finally, politicians use the journalists' story (the words that have already been spun) to benefit their own power struggle. In the end researchers get to stick with the ivory towers, the news media moguls get rich, and politicians go back to roost in power. The truth becomes the victim, suffering in poor perspectives, bad quotations, fantasy conflict, and everything else contained under the heading of yellow journalism.

I'm not a skeptic, but the million dollar quotation comes from skeptic Chris Landsea, which elucidates dire reality with precision:

"They don't even have building codes in some of the unincorporated areas of Texas and Louisiana. So, much less getting ready for any potential scary changes [due to] global warming, we're not prepared for hurricanes as they are today."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for not only college-level libraries but for general-interest public library collections., August 8, 2007
Chris Mooney is one of the leading science journalists and commentators working today and his meteorological guide STORM WORLD: HURRICANES, POLITICS AND THE BATTLE OVER GLOBAL WARMING thus comes with authority and expertise, following the lives and careers of the leading researchers on either side of the global warming argument. Rather than the usual science-only focus, STORM WORLD also focuses on the interactions between politicians, economists, big business and the media, considering how weather patterns and impact is interpreted on all sides. The result is a powerful social and scientific expose that is as strong on interpersonal influence and political insights as it is on science fact. Perfect for not only college-level libraries but for general-interest public library collections.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story behind the stories, July 13, 2007
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If you are a bit of a news and/or science junkie you're aware of the recent international report about human causes of global warming, the "hockey stick" debate, and other pieces of the ongoing debates and scientific investigations of global warming. There are plenty of people (many of them unqualified) writing commentary about global warming and its potential costs, but this book give you the story behind all the news stories - the history of the research, the scientific debates, the personalities. I am happy that someone willing to do his homework has finally written the story pulling all of it together into a coherent whole for those of us who have been following the news.

My only complaint is that I don't see Dallas, Texas on the author's book tour schedule.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of Science Reporting, September 3, 2007
By 
David B Richman (Mesilla Park, NM USA) - See all my reviews
Chris Mooney is a treasure! He actually does his homework (his current book has nearly 300 end notes) and looks at both sides of an issue. At the same time he comes to some conclusions based on the current evidence, while noting that ANY conclusion may be challenged in the future, when new data is collected. In a world that had for so long seemed to be run by ideologues of one political stripe or another, he is a breath of fresh air!

In "Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming" Mooney brings together two schools on the relationship between frequency and intensity of hurricanes and global warming. The forecasters, led by William Gray, and the climate scientists, including Kerry Emanuel, Peter Webster and Judith Curry, among others, mostly disagree as to the connection between global warming and increased strength and possibly number of tropical cyclones. While Mooney tends to favor the latter, he also notes that both empirical (the Gray camp) and theoretical (the global warming camp) perspectives are needed and that European scientists of both groups cooperate. In the United States they fight it out, in part fueled by a political community that refused to acknowledge any possibility that human caused climate changed existed, or that if it did it was either non-consequential or beneficial! Gray, who was undoubtedly a good scientist at one time, finally became entangled with the politicians, who (as Mooney diplomatically puts it) "gamed" government reports in a bald-faced attempt to alter evidence that might damage policy and possibly the business profits of their favorite doner companies.

This is, however, by no means just a political problem for Republicans or conservatives, as I have seen ranting polemics on the left that attack global warming as a conspiracy by capitalism to force the use of nuclear power. As Mooney says, we need our honest skeptics (I am one myself- until the evidence piles up as it did with continental drift, the meteor strike at the end of the Cretaceous, and the bird-dinosaur phylogenetic connection), but we are to a point where the data (which Gray touts as the ultimate test) is tending to favor both man-induced global warming and a likely connection with overall intensifying of tropical storms. Right now, as I write this review, the Caribbean basin has seen TWO level 5 hurricanes with a few weeks! The 2006 season notwithstanding (and it was a very nasty season in the Pacific, despite the Atlantic respite), we have been seeing a lot of very intense storms. While nobody can say that these storms (or any specific storm) are for sure generated by man-induced global warming, it certainly is suspicious and only a fool would ignore the possibility.

Chris Mooney (whom I heard speak at a scientific meeting in Washington, DC, last year - he is as good a speaker as he is a writer) is to be commended for giving the reading public access to actual information in the background of tropical storm research (actually begun by Ben Franklin - surprise!) and its current state. His description of government suppression and re-writing of taxpayer- funded scientific research reports is worth the price of the book alone, although it takes up a justifiably small part of the book! He spends more time on the scientific debate and keeps the book relatively free of polemics. Because of this I very highly recommend this book to anyone who is remotely interested in the potential problems of global climate change.
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