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Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming Hardcover – December 27, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 "one of the best books yet published on climate change" (New York Review of Books) and named the best science book of 2005 by NPR’s 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (December 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950141
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,980,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I struggle trying to decide what to write about this book. On the one hand, large portions of it are extremely tedious to get through and seem like overkill. On the other hand, a few parts are some of the best writing on the global warming issue I have read recently. The book begins with a section that covers about the first half, which is basically an almost blow-by-blow accounting of all sorts of censorship, editing, distortion, and intimidation by political appointees in NASA. I suspect many people will give up on this book before finishing this part. I think it is too long and detailed. Perhaps more summary with a few well-placed examples would have sufficed. Around the middle of the book, the tone changes greatly, and there is much more coverage of Hansen's actual work through the years and what it showed about global warming. In this section Hansen is depicted as a careful scientist who basically got it right 30 years ago and has been getting better since. This section contains some of the best descriptions of how real-world data and modeling fit the picture, and why global warming deniers are way off base. Finally, towards the end of the book emphasis shifts to Hansen's more recent advocacy in favor of doing something, and (the author's)dire predictions for what's in store if we don't. Curiously, the descriptions of how much Hansen has been doing found at the end of the book seem a little out of synch with the claims of censorship and muzzling found at the beginning of the book.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This important book tells one of the most troubling stories of 2005, the attempted silencing of scientific findings about global climate change at NASA in a ham-handed effort to control the story of scientific findings. "Censoring Science" outlines the battle between science and politicians in a very specific incident. Mark Bowen sets an impressive agenda for this book, and generally he does a credible job of explaining three related issues as they came together at NASA Headquarters in the middle part of the decade.

The first is the tragicomic efforts of the Bush administration to control scientists associated with the federal government and attempts to keep them from taking positions on hot-button issues, such as global warming, that would necessitate policy decisions anathema to the conservative political base. This was a broad-based effort involving scientists at NASA, NOAA, and other government agencies. The focus here, however, was on NASA and one particular scientist. This is the second issue that Bowen discusses thoroughly; James R. Hansen has been involved in research about global warming since the 1970s. His organization, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, has a long tradition of tracking the annual global temperatures and has been finding a slow rise over the decades since the space age began. A third area, less well handled by Bowen but certainly a useful overview for general readers, is the manner in which scientific disciplines and questioning has led to the current state of understanding about the phenomenon of global warming.

The story begins with James Hansen, a global climate change scientist at NASA's Goddard institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, N.Y., and he is clearly the star of "Censoring Science.
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Format: Hardcover
The most important scientific issue confronting our fellow Americans, and indeed, all of humanity, is global warming. On a warm, humid afternoon in June 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen alerted us to its ever present danger, testifying before a U. S. Senate committee, and then, afterwards, to a group of reporters. One mere sentence uttered by Hansen to these reporters, emphasized this danger, "It's time to stop waffling.... and say that the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate now." It is an ever present danger that has garnered the keen interest of diplomats and other politicians worldwide, including those here in the United States. But it is also an ever present danger whose very significance has been ignored by the current administration of President George W. Bush, which has instead, been engaged in scientific censorship of the most virulent kind. Physicist and writer Mark Bowen's "Censoring Science" takes a cold, hard look at the Bush administration's undeniable scientific censorship of NASA climatologist James Hansen in a fast-paced literary style that's more reminiscent of a well-plotted Ian Fleming espionage thriller, than a serious, rather credible, work of investigative scientific journalism. "Censoring Science" offers compelling evidence as to how that censorship worked, trying to cast "doubt" on superb climate science in extensively-edited scientific reports that "demonstrated" the "uncertainties" of this science, not the undeniable facts pointing to the reality of global warming.Read more ›
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