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Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming Hardcover – December 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This portrait of NASA climate scientist James Hansen and his decades-long struggle to alert the public about global warming's perils and potential solutions ranges from deeply disturbing and frightening to inspiring. Disturbing, as Bowen (Thin Ice) gives convincing evidence that the Bush administration did its best to control NASA scientists' communication with the public in order to undermine belief in global warming and belittle its consequences. According to Bowen, the administration set up ideological political loyalists in positions formerly held by career professionals, gutted NASA's earth science budget, then denied these actions. Frightening, as Hansen concludes that climate is significantly more sensitive than two years ago and that our choice may be not between no change and a significant change, but between a significant change and disaster. Inspiring, in Bowen's portrayal of Hansen, who obeys the Feynman admonition in both science and policy—describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be. Bowen's in-depth treatments of politics and science, although hard going at times, give his arguments substance. Hansen's conviction that tools exist right now to mitigate the worst effect—if only we will use them—is surprisingly hopeful. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Mark Bowen is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Thin Ice, which was praised as Âone of the best books yet published on climate changeÂ (New York Review of Books) and named the best science book of 2005 by NPRÂs Living on Earth. An avid climber with a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, Bowen has written articles for Climbing, Natural History, and Technology Review.
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In the second half of the book, Bowen seems to rely on the work of Journalist Ross Gelbspan, who shares an interest in how political forces have tried to distort or derail the science of global warming, and some of the material from his own previous book on the study of ice.
I think the following extremely important points can be gleaned from the book:
1) Hansen is a very meticulous scientist who shys away from political involvement or spectacular claims in public, in spite of how is he generally characterized by those hoping to smear him.
2) Hansen is perhaps the most important global warming researcher in the US, and has an incredible 30+ year record of solid work and correct predictions or views on things.
3) We have essentially lost many years of attacking the problem of global warming by allowing short-term corporate interests to dictate a policy that puts profit above long-term stability of the environment.
4) There is overwhelming and basically unassailable evidence of what is going on, and a strong basis for solid predictions of what could happen.
I will conclude by suggesting this book, while being very important in some aspects could have been much better in many ways. It can't decide if it's a biography on Dr. Hansen, an investigative report on Bush administration attempts to stymie science, or a scientific wake-up call on global warming. I give it three stars because it's so hard to get through the first half. However, I do suggest that anyone interested in this topic give it a try.
If you've followed general environmental news for the past few years, the revelations within this book may not come as a big surprise, but I still found the actual mechanics behind science suppression to be very interesting.
The book is essentially two books in one - the first part is about Dr. James Hansen, and the second part is more on the general topic of global warming. Although several reviewers have stated the book did not become interesting until the second half, I had the opposite reaction, as the second half was largely review to me, while the Hansen story was new.
My main quibble with the book was not the message, but the organization. The organization of the book was a little difficult to follow at times, with the story presented in a non-chronological manner, with lots of shifting among different years from chapter to chapter. I think the narrative would have flowed much more smoothly if the years covered had been boldly placed at each chapter title page. Several times, the year being covered wasn't clear, as the author kept changing between 2005, 2001, the 1980s, and so on.
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