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Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
This spirited critique challenges the conventional doom saying about global warming. Climatologist Michaels acknowledges that the earth is warming because of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but he insists that the warming will probably be modest and that nature and humanity will easily adjust to it. Writing in a lucid, engaging style supported by a mountain of data, he debunks such recent scare stories as melting ice caps and glaciers, intensifying storms and droughts, species die-offs and a Day After Tomorrowstyle ice age. He argues that researchers and reporters mistakenly ascribe normal fluctuations in local weather to global warming and commonly ignore the facts (reports that the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is being submerged by rising sea levels, for example, ignored research demonstrating that sea levels in that region have actually been falling). Michaels, who is a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, sometimes allows his own agenda to intrude. Advocates of the precautionary principle will note that he fails to demonstrate his claim that "there is no known, feasible policy that can stop or even slow these climate changes." And while he chalks up global warming alarmism to an unholy alliance of climatologists hungry for grants and media sensationalism, his remedy for biased science is not better science but a "wider source of bias" in the form of more funding of climatology by the fossil fuel industry. He also calls for the abolition of academic tenurea crushing blow against an independent professorate that libertarians and their allies in the world of academia view as the intellectual wellspring of the regulatory state. Nonetheless, Michaelss challenge to global warming orthodoxy should invigorate the debate over climate change.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Inside Flap
"This powerful, lucid, fluent book is a triumph of science over superstition. Pat Michaels, a gifted climatologist, tells the straight truth about the hysteria and ignorance surrounding climate change and how the scientific establishment has been led astray."
James K. Glassman, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
"Pat Michaels has written another fascinating and useful book. . . . I urge everyone, regardless of the extent of his science background, to read Meltdown. But be prepared to change your way of thinking. Just let go of your preconceived ideas, strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride!"
George H. Taylor, Past President, American Association of State Climatologists
"Patrick Michaels fully exploits his incomparable wit and credentialed expertise to dismantle the claim that catastrophic climate change is upon us. Using dozens of examples, this working-stiff climatologist exposes the exaggerations and outright falsehoods promoted by a media industry hungry for if it bleeds, it leads stories."
John R. Christy, Director, Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville
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Michaels gives many examples of supposedly scientific conclusions about global warming are really a closed loop of closed minds who exclude any evidence that questions the reasons behind global climate changes.
Are there holes in the Arctic sea ice in the summer.? Yes, but they have always shrunk and expanded over millions of years. Is the Antarctic getting warmer or colder? Yes and no, depending on which part of this vast area you are measuring. Are CO2 levels increasing? Yes, but they are no where close to historical levels reached many times in the past. Polar bears on the verge of extinction? Not when the truth is that there are more of them now than at any other time in history (and eating those cute little fur seals in record numbers, no less.)
The list of currently held myths are dealt with in a very objective fashion, backed up by real research, and showing the earth to be a very complicated system, which is not very well understood. Michaels does a great job of showing that many of the things we think we understand about climate change are really not what you read in the newspapers.
If you are looking for a book that deals with the many arguments used in the global climate change debate in a fair and objective way, this is the best of the lot. But of course Michaels is attacked because he does not rely on tax money for a living, unlike the hundreds of thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, media people and their ilk who flood the world with hysterical stories about the end of the world due to global warming when the evidence is quite to the contrary.
The irony of course is that many who see a great conspiracy in those who question the reasons behind climate change somehow blame "big oil" for asking questions about a supposedly finished debate. They obviously have failed to notice, as Michaels has, that most advertising by "big oil" today is to embrace the agenda of the Gores of the world so that they can make even more money trading "carbon credits" which do nothing to reduce air pollution, and not have to spend a dime for oil exploration.
Whether you are a lifetime member of the Sierra Club or a lobbyist for the coal industry, Michaels' cites the same publicly available data used to support the myriad of negative global warming scenarios to dispel many popular beliefs.
Meltdown does not dismiss global warming, although it questions its severity and impact. Meltdown does question whether warming is due primarily to human activity or, more likely, to solar and other large-scale natural cycles that living things have adapted to many times before. The author does not dispute that human beings have influenced the environment, but does not believe we can affect global warming in any meaningful way by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Meltdown's overarching sidebar is about how good people (scientists) go astray when their careers (lives) depend on networks and hierarchies (the paradigmatic status quo) who influence purse strings controlled from places of power (primarily governments) indirectly through political pressure (me and you, the media, and environmentalist groups). The resulting feedback loop leads to prestigious journals awash in bad papers that mysteriously pass peer-review while good, less tabloidesque science is ignored. The resulting avalanche of false claims and hair-raising global warming scenarios strike fear into our hearts so that we donate to environmental groups and write elected representatives pleading for increased funding to study global warming.
Meltdown was published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank often derided by the left for having been co-founded by Charles Koch, a self-made oilman, and supported by major US corporations (although 70% of their funding is from individuals). The problem with Cato as publisher is no so much the potential for bias (I think the author is very smart and believes what he is saying) but the lost opportunity for a better book. Since Cato is not a publishing company, the manuscript lacks the organization, clarity, and logical progression that a good editor would have brought to the project. For example, the professor often begins to build a thread then disappears forever into an aside (some of which were merciless and unrestrained non-PC lampoons that were, well, funny).
Once of my best advisors always recommended reading the New York Times in the morning and the Wall Street Journal at night. Climate change is too important to ignore either side in the debate.
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