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Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming Hardcover – July 2, 2007
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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."
Although Mooney keeps the pace moving along, by the time you finish this book, you may know more about hurricanes than you bargained for. At times, the book is almost too detailed for its own good, but if you know at least a little basic meteorology, you should be able to handle all the atmospheric science thrown into the book. Good book on a fascinating subject.
My only complaint is that I don't see Dallas, Texas on the author's book tour schedule.
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.
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It presents a balanced review of both sides of the global warming ->
hurricanes issue while...Read more