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Climate change reading


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Sep 15, 2009, 8:17pm Top

Can someone suggest a book that's relatively up to date and 'fair to both camps'? I started looking for a title, and I'm lost in choices. One, preferably by an actual, reputable scientist, not someone pretending to be a scientist (not making any claims; I can only imagine)? And I would consider myself a fairly dumb layman. Thank you for any suggestions!

Sep 15, 2009, 10:02pm Top

In the meantime: Yesterday I picked up a copy of the September/October 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine for the cover blurb, "Climate Countdown/The United States and other countries are finally grappling with global warming. Is it too little, too late? Four experts weigh in on what to do now." It is a little misleading because the four experts wrote only three articles. It seemed worth a shot though.


Sep 16, 2009, 8:54am Top

Not a book as such but the actual IPPCC report is probably the best place to begin. That is about as impartial as you will get. It's available online.

Sep 17, 2009, 2:37pm Top

rdurick and reading_fox, thank you for the suggestions. Unless someone has any specific book recommendations, I guess I'm going to have to read a lot of different books, coupled with a Baloney Detection Kit and the IPCC report-- what sense I can make of it, at this point, as my Greek is rusty-- and refer to it to look up relevant claims. I figure I'll have the facts right about the time the rioting in the streets commence. :-)

Sep 17, 2009, 2:45pm Top

You can find plenty of recommendations on the Real Climate blog:


Sep 18, 2009, 1:39pm Top

Why do you want something that is 'fair to both camps'?

This is a question of science, not politics. This is a matter of evidence and data, not feelings and opinion.

If you are looking for reading material on the distance between the earth and the sun, do you really have to "balance" the sources that say it's 92 million miles by actively seeking out people who say "nuh uh!!!!" and writing about them as if there were some kind of real question about it?

This "being balanced" crap is infuriating. It may make sense in politics, but it has no place in science.

Sep 18, 2009, 3:29pm Top

Greg, you mistook what I said as a request for the, well, take for example the I.D. vs Evolution by Natural Selection 'debate'; I'm not in any way talking about that kind of junk. By 'fair to both camps', I simply meant actual scientists who may disagree on one or more levels. Hell, I don't even have a grasp of any of it. I absolutely do not mean "the camp that thinks it is a hoax vs the camp that thinks it is real"

LolaWalser, thank you. I guess I'll start there. One of the soon to be published ones may be what I need.

Sep 18, 2009, 4:23pm Top

I think a good place to start is the chemical and atomic levels of carbon and carbon molecules. What do those carbon atoms do when a log is burned or a tankful of gasoline is combusted? Then the carbon cycle. Then the build-up of carbon in the atmosphere. A specific book is not coming to mind but several climate change books have a chapter or two dealing with these processes.

Sep 18, 2009, 6:03pm Top


My apologies. I think I have a bit of a sensitiv trigger-finger for the whole "fairness" issue, exactly because of things like the ID vs. Evolution example that you gave (among other things). I'm sorry for reading that in to your question. :)

Sep 19, 2009, 11:43pm Top

Three of the better ones that I've read in the last few years are Fixing Climate by Wallace S. Broecker and Robert Kunzig, The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, and (my favorite) Thin Ice by Mark Bowen.

Dec 8, 2009, 8:41am Top

Is it the case that the climate change question is analogous to the question of how far it is to the sun?

That the debate is similar to the "debate" among those who say " it's 92 million miles" and those who say "nuh uh!!!!"

Putting it another way: are there no genuine scientists among "climate change skeptics"?

Dec 8, 2009, 9:02am Top

#11 - depends on which question you are asking.

If the question is- does CO2 in the atmosphere cause warming, and are CO2 levels increasing? Then the answer is no. There are no genuine scientists amoung the skeptics.

If the question is a much more subtle - will the warming of the global climate be bad for humankind and is there a reasonable alternative? Most scientists would say - beyond our remit.

If the question is very specific - will this amount of warming over those time periods in these business cases produce a net change in growth of tis wheat over that weed? then I'd expect quite a debate between naysayers and confirmists.

Dec 8, 2009, 1:27pm Top

I'm in the midst of reading Plows, Plagues & Petroleum by William F. Ruddiman. Dr. ruddiman is a retired professor of climate science and has written many books & articles. His theory is that man started changing the atmosphere 5,000 years ago when agriculture began. It's an interesting book.

Dec 8, 2009, 2:37pm Top

>13 MarianV: I just finished Plows, Plagues and Petroleum and found it interesting and persuasive. Here is my review:

Ruddiman, a palaeoclimatologist, hypothesizes that forest clearing, agriculture, rice production, and pandemics had begun to artificially change the climate as early as 8000 years ago, with the recent enormous effects of carbon use (oil, gas, and coal) building on the earlier changes. Ruddiman came to his conclusion when he noticed that the major forces in climate change normally caused by cycles in the earth's orbit (100,000 years), tilt (41,000 years) and precession, or wobble, (22,000 years), which had a clear pattern of increases and decreases of methane and CO2, began to veer off course starting about the time agriculture became common and humans began living in settlements. In addition, Ruddiman states that Earth should be in a glaciation of some sort at this part of the normal cycle and that global warming has delayed or, possibly, canceled it. A discussion with Ruddiman can be read at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/... The book is short (200 pages), very readable, and thought-provoking.

Edited: Dec 8, 2009, 3:41pm Top

Responding to the original post, I can recommend The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart, which traces the history of the global warming theory and discusses internal conflicts within the research community and the political & social subtexts that colored scientists' views.

edit: fixed touchstone

Dec 8, 2009, 4:26pm Top

I have a copy of Gino Serge's book - A Matter of Degrees. Most of it has nothing to do with Climate Change. The last three sections (about 20 pages) of Chapter 3, however, lay out the basic science, history and politics of the issues, in fairly neutral language.

I haven't read the whole book; just those sections. It's pretty deep in my TBR pile.

Dec 8, 2009, 6:04pm Top

Anyone got a link for the specific issues on the recent climate warming email scandal?

I heard a few discussions on the radio, NPR, I think and remember tree ring matching being mentioned- where you glean information by finding different aged trees who growth rings overlap and thereby can trace climate factors over thousands of years. I think some of the emails in question posed issues about which trees were used and exactly what specific information can be obtained from the rings.

I am just amused by the "scandal" myself and of the opinion that better science will come of the scrutiny.

Dec 19, 2009, 10:32am Top

For "the other side", as argued by genuine scientists, this book looks interesting. I have ordered it, but have not read it yet.

Lawrence Solomon, The Deniers

From the Publisher

Al Gore says any scientist who disagrees with him on Global Warming is a kook, or a crook.
Guess he never met these guys

Dr. Edward Wegman--former chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences--demolishes the famous "hockey stick" graph that launched the global warming panic.

Dr. David Bromwich--president of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology--says "it's hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now."

Prof. Paul Reiter--Chief of Insects and Infectious Diseases at the famed Pasteur Institute--says "no major scientist with any long record in this field" accepts Al Gore's claim that global warming spreads mosquito-borne diseases.

Prof. Hendrik Tennekes--director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute--states "there exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies" used for global warming forecasts.

Dr. Christopher Landsea--past chairman of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones--says "there are no known scientific studies that show a conclusive physical link between global warming and observed hurricane frequency and intensity."

Dr. Antonino Zichichi--one of the world's foremost physicists, former president of the European Physical Society, who discovered nuclear antimatter--calls global warming models "incoherent and invalid."

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski--world-renowned expert on the ancient ice cores used in climate research--says the U.N. "based its global-warming hypothesis on arbitrary assumptions and these assumptions, it is now clear, are false."

Prof. Tom V. Segalstad--head of the Geological Museum, University of Oslo--says "most leading geologists" know the U.N.'s views "of Earth processes are implausible."

Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu--founding director of the International Arctic Research Center, twice named one of the "1,000 Most Cited Scientists," says much "Arctic warming during the last half of the last century is due to natural change."

Dr. Claude Allegre--member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science, he was among the first to sound the alarm on the dangers of global warming. His view now: "The cause of this climate change is unknown."

Dr. Richard Lindzen--Professor of Meteorology at M.I.T., member, the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, says global warming alarmists "are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right."

Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov--head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science's Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometria project says "the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

Dr. Richard Tol--Principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University, calls the most influential global warming report of all time "preposterous . . . alarmist and incompetent."

Dr. Sami Solanki--director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, who argues that changes in the Sun's state, not human activity, may be the principal cause of global warming: "The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures."

Prof. Freeman Dyson-one of the world's most eminent physicists says the models used to justify global warming alarmism are "full of fudge factors" and "do not begin to describe the real world."

Dr. Eigils Friis-Christensen--director of the Danish National Space Centre, vice-president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, who argues that changes in the Sun's behavior could account for most of the warming attributed by the UN to man-made CO2.

And many more, all in Lawrence Solomon's devastating new book, The Deniers

Edited: Jan 4, 2010, 5:27am Top

Some links which have commented on the email scandal, or which deal with the issues:

Climate Audit
Liberal Skeptic
SPPI blog
Climate Depot
CO2 Science
Watts Up With That?
Global Warming

Brave New Climate
Climate Science Watch
Skeptical Science
Real Climate
Slide Presentation on Scepticism Good place to start. Cached.
Woods Hole Research Center
Environmental Protection Agency

This is a hasty compilation. If I have included some third-rate sites at the expense of leaving out some first-rate ones, please add corrections.

Edited: May 14, 2010, 4:34pm Top

Just started reading How to Cool the Planet Geoengineering and the audacious quest to fix earth's climate by Jeff Goodell, a book just arrived at my local library. It describes some macro "geoengineering" techniques which could theoretically effect the earth on a large scale.

I was a bit skeptical & bored for the first 2 chapters having been exposed to many of the concepts in the early 1970's while in school. I am glad I stuck with it though Jeff goes on to provide a nice historical context of global warming, geoenginnering and the people who try to deal with it. Through personal interviews and research he provides a lot of biographical information on players in the field. Like Edward Teller who, to me, was a tunnel visioned physicist trying to use nuke explosions to create canals {disputing that there would be any radioactive hazards} and helped propagate the "Star Wars" financial potlatch of billions of dollars actualized by Ronald Regan as president.

Jeff provides a lot of interesting facts in a journalist method so far {I am half way though the book}.

May 14, 2010, 4:46pm Top

I just got a copy of A Vast Machine by Paul N. Edwards. It looks like an excellent review of the way that scientists study the climate - i.e. digging below the results to see how they are arrived at.

Edited: May 14, 2010, 5:02pm Top

I also enjoyed Ian Plimer's book "Heaven and Earth-Global Warming: The Missing Science"
In this work Plimer (a Geologist by training) is saying that most of the current scientific opinion is based on computer models. Most of these models are primitive and make huge assumptions or just ignore things that can't be modelled easily (clouds for example).
He does not dispute that the climate is changing (no geologist would ever), just that the science being done needs to be better.

May 14, 2010, 10:22pm Top

>20 DugsBooks: I'm reading How to Cool the Planet right now, too.

Also, Climate Change Science and Policy, available as a galley download from NetGalley.

May 26, 2010, 10:45pm Top

I finished How to Cool the Planet and liked the book more as I progressed through it. I like the way the book is constructed with Notes, Selected bibliography and Index. You can flip back to check facts if you don't read the book in one or two sessions.

Does anyone else think it is a kind of glaring omission that family planning or some sort of population explosion abatement mechanisms are not postulated? Just waiting for disease, starvation or war to thin CO2 producing folks out doesn't seem the civilized way to go.

One of the pet schemes of floating some sort of particulates over Antarctica to stop the ice from melting seemed to have a flaw. Since the place is like a desert from what I remember how would they increase precipitation in the area? Maybe their computer models mainly depend on freezing ocean water.

May 27, 2010, 7:21am Top

I forgot to mention I finished How to Cool the Planet too. I gave it 4 stars, and my review is posted, if anyone is interested in further thoughts on the book.

Dec 20, 2010, 7:41pm Top

Just found 'THE WEATHER OF THE FUTURE' at the library and 'INTO THE STORM' which is about violent weather researchers in the field. Ahh, for the life of a tornado chaser!

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