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The Inquisition of Climate Science Hardcover – August 30, 2011
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"Powell consistently brings the sharp insight of a knowledgeable insider melded with the skepticism of a critical outsider to the most important issues in science. In his latest book--his best yet--he shows us the path to understanding climate change."--Peter D. Ward , The University of Washington
"James Lawrence Powell's must-read book is a welcome addition to the growing literature debunking fossil fuel-funded, anti-science disinformation. As Powell makes clear, it is time for scientists to stand up and be counted."--Joseph Romm, editor of Climate Progress and senior fellow at American Progress
This book is a winner, written in an easy, logical style with thorough and fascinating discussions of major deniers.(Orrin Pilkey, Duke University, coauthor of The Rising Sea 7/9/2011)
With the evidence for global warming so strong, why, Powell asks, does half the American public doubt it? His answer is a history of the campaign of denial, the most comprehensive and up-to-date history available. It is well written and well worth reading: this is the most important issue facing our generation.(Spencer Weart, author of The Discovery of Global Warming )
This courageous and well-researched book exposes how ideologues and money combined to attack sound climate science.(Richard Somerville, University of California, San Diego, author of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change, second edition )
… this is a highly authoritative and accessible book that should be read by everyone who has any doubts about the reality of climate change.(Irish Times )
About the Author
- Publisher : Columbia University Press; F First Edition (August 30, 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 232 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0231157185
- ISBN-13 : 978-0231157186
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,389,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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He examines the tactics--mainly knee-jerk denialism and repetition ad nauseam of long-discredited arguments that only aid in obfuscation which engenders doubt. And at the same time, they spew a relentless barrage of ad hominem attacks. Then he identifies the perps and the reasons for their success in swaying (read: misleading) public policy (so far!)
The result of their machinations is the tragedy that an issue that literally determines the fate of our hospitable Earth is relegated to time-wasting, mindless (and seemingly endless) political debate.
However, in this book Powell gives us more than ample ammunition with which to fight back. There is a wealth of information presented in an easy-to-read style with plenty of references to back up every point. I knew the basics of this issue but nowhere nearly enough of the details; this book helps a lot to fill in the gaps.
One thing I was surprised to learn is that among the reputable scientists working in climatology is a fairly even mix along the political spectrum. I would assume that those Republican members have been mostly silent due to not wanting to jeopardize their careers for not towing the party line.
That's why a book like this is so important; if enough fair-minded, free-thinking people can be exposed to the truth, we can overcome the merchants of doubt and, hopefully, get positive movement towards mitigating ('adapting' is the denialist buzz-word when all else fails since accountability is completely off of the table) the crisis before it's too late.
The movement has the characteristics of Lysenkoism, referring to a Soviet biologist under Stalin who subverted science for political reasons in the field of genetics. The modus operandi of both seems quite similar. Note what some prominent deniers have said:
* That the "global warming scare" is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes, and decision making.
* That global warming is a political agenda designed to bring down our system of industrialization, development, and capitalism, in other words, to destroy the Western way of life.
Powell shows us that it is actually a political movement at heart. Denying climate science promotes its political goals. Interestingly, these goals are advocated by the movement's funders, which are a who's who list of fossil fuel industry and conservative, antiregulatory, libertarian philosophy advocates. Should we be worried about this? It seems so. As Powell solemnly asks, "If deniers can vilify individual scientists and neutralize the field of climate science simply because of ideology and a conspiracy theory, what will be the next field of science - or art, or history, or literature, or medicine - that some group chooses to denounce?"
The book is an absolute wealth of information on the subject. Powell spends a considerable amount of material also on the consensus for anthropogenic global warming showing us the overwhelming evidence in favor, such as the keeling curve, carbon dioxide measurements over the years, the hockey stick (which has been vindicated), the IPCC assessments, the Parallel Climate model, importance of the various isotopes of carbon, accurate predictions of climate models, ice cores, tree ring data, and much more. He notes that the science academies of thirty-five countries have issued statements accepting global warming, and that nearly seventy national and international science societies have also. There is also an elaboration and analysis of "climategate" - remember the e-mail fiasco.
So if you are confused on all of this climate debate, as I was, this book can certainly clear things up. Powell summed up the matter saying "What we do see clearly is that science denial begins and ends not with science but with ideology, not with facts but with belief systems." Amen.
This is a well written, rational and well researched book. It shows clearly and with evidence, the means by which deniers muddy the waters through plain dishonesty (e.g. cherry-picking and thus misrepresenting the work of others, payment for opinions), ideology, or the inability to understand the value of the scientific method. Anyone who wishes to understand honestly the reasons behind the noise created by deniers should read this book.
Top reviews from other countries
It does come as quite an eye opener, how some institutions work, to muddy the water of genuine climate science.