Climate of Extremes : Global Warming Science they Don’t Want you to Know by Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling Jr is the best book I’ve read on Climate Science from the skeptic’s point of view. If you want to understand global warming and want to see what climatologists who disagree with the majority then this is the book to read. It’s well written, data heavy and well worth a read for anyone who is interested in climate change.
The book goes through the science of global warming and says that it is extremely likely that temperatures will rise due to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). The authors believe that warming will continue at about the same rate as the warming that has occurred since the mid 1970s, at about 0.15C per decade. They talk about the 20th Century warming and point out that the warming pre WWII was likely to have been non-anthropogenic but that the later warming is likely to have been human induced. They make the interesting and rarely reported point that methane has risen and fallen in the atmosphere and the cause is unknown. They point out that James Hansen has stated that he believes warming will be about 1.5 C / century rather than at the higher rates that many AGW proponents have proposed. They point out that the models all have a problem in that at 10km they predict more warming than has occurred and that their daily temperature range projections are wrong. They point out how remarkable it is that it is not common knowledge that the models are overestimating warming and that no model has predicted the 10 years of no warming that has occurred.
In the Second Chapter they go over different climate histories and point out that the modern balloon and satellite data agree with each other at 0.15C/decade of warming but the IPCC land based record is higher at 0.2C. They also point out the lack of transparency on the part of the IPCC temperature record and have a quote from the climate scientist Phil Jones responding to a request for information about his method from Warwick Hughes with
“We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
Some people might have responded that that is exactly what science is about, carefully finding errors in each others work. Indeed, medical science often progresses this way.
In Chapter 3 the often pushed line that hurricanes will worsen with AGW is examined and show to be remarkably dubious. The quote from Professor Christopher Landsea, a hurricane expert, is pertinent, he says:
“After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise applies as having become politicized”
The chapter goes over the remarkable reconstruction of 700 years of cyclone activity on a part of the Queensland coast that shows no change in frequency or ferocity of the storms.
Chapter 4 covers the change in sea level that AGW will bring. They point out that the IPCC TAR had 27″ for a maximum sea level rise while the FAR had gone down to 18″ maximum and a range down to 8.5″. They point out that most of this is water expansion and not about the melting of ice sheets as some climate alarmists such as Al Gore have made out. They point out that an island that had been thought to be connected to the mainland that appeared in Greenland that was claimed to be a product of global warming and was unprecedented was in fact there in the 1950s. Kilimanjaro’s melting ice is also discussed, with the fact that the glaciers have been melting since 1880 being put forward.
Chapter 5 covers extreme climate, floods, fires and droughts and how the figures have been exaggerated and distorted by environmentalists. Chapter 6 covers deaths due to heat waves in Europe and their decline.
Chapter 7 looks at pervasive bias and Climate Extremism. They point out that one sign that climate science is loaded is that an investigation of papers in science and nature shows that rather than the expected half of papers showing that climate change is not as severe as predicted and half showing it to be more severe about 90% of papers find new and more serious outcomes. They point out how unlikely it is that previous estimates have all underestimated the deleterious nature of global warming.
Chapter 8 describes what they propose to do about improving climate science. They suggest that reviewers and reasons for rejection be made public and more information be put onto the internet. It’s pretty modest and very calm. They also suggest that corn based ethanol subsidies be removed, a point many AGW proponents would also agree with.
The one thing that was disappointing about the book was the way in stated that the reason for AGW proponents pushing their case so hard was to gain money for research, albeit something they described as an accidental inbuilt bias of research rather than something deliberate. The idea of noble cause corruption that is described in Aynsley Kellow’s excellent Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science is much stronger. AGW proponents believe strongly that they are doing good, it’s just that the belief of the danger of AGW has caused overstatement by people who believe that putting forward the strong case is vital to save the world. On the other hand, AGW proponents incessantly accuse AGW skeptics of being paid off by fossil fuel companies, when in fact they too believe that they are doing the right thing by examing the facts that they believe do not justify the measures AGW proponents advocate that would result in a poorer worse world.
The book is the book I’ll offer to my AGW proponent friends. This book, together with Bjorn Lomborg’s Cool It, give a very good presentation of the skeptics case. Even if people disagree, the case should be heard and understood by those who believe that immediate action is vital. They probably won’t change many people’s views, but they will make people realise that skeptics are not crazed total deniers of temperature increase but rather represent a scientific and economic opinion that, whilst it may be wrong, is not a product of ignorance or lack of reason.
4.5 / 5