Although I read a lot about our Climate Wars, there is much in this book that I did not know. The author (Fred Pearce) is a UK reporter who talks directly with all sides of the debate and for that I will call him a semi-insider. He provides the time-sensitive context of many of the more celebrated emails extracted from Climate Research Unit (CRU) at University at East Anglia (UEA). For instance the "hide the decline" and "Mann's Nature trick" private email from Phil Jones (given in mid 1999 but released to the public in Nov 2009) was said by Sen Jim Inhofe in Dec 2009 to demonstrate that "the science [behind global warming] has been pretty much debunked" and "the science has been rigged". Let's explore that statement. For years the CRU has put out plots of the measured "instrumental" (aka thermometers) temperature data showing an approx 0.8C temperature increase since pre-industrial times mostly in two upturn periods 1910-1940, 1977-1998, other periods being essentially flat. It is the most fundamental evidence for global warming and the same data has been analyzed with similar results by NASA's GISS. Now according to Inhofe this data had really declined, the CRU knew that, and the "hide the decline" amounts to proof that they knew that but were fabricating data to say otherwise. But the context makes it clear that the "hide the deline" phrase was related to the Paleoclimatic data of over 1000+ years based on proxies, and not the instrumental temperature measurement starting globally in ~1850. The paleoclimatic researchers acknowledge "divergence" later than 1961 or 1981 (depending on the data set) in tree ring reconstructions which does not show consistent trends - temperatures from some trees went high, while others went down. Yet for the years 1850-1960, the tree ring data matches the temperature anomalies of the "instrumental record" quite well. So following Michael Mann's "hockey stick" article published by Nature magazine in 1998, the inconsistent paleoclimatic data (post 1961 or 1981) was replaced by an overlay of the "instrumental record" to display all the available (and reliable) data on one plot - this was "Mann's Nature's trick" which is not an attempt to deceive but an attempt to display all the relevant data on one plot. Jones was not "hiding the decline" in the instrumental data; instead he was hiding some of the latter unreliable Paleoclimatic data that they did not understand. This procedure was clearly pointed in Jones's text accompanying the plots as it was in Mann's papers earlier. No intent to "hide" anything and no "trick" was played. The "trick" referred to a data display choice and was shorthand in the context of private email between Jones and other climate researchers. Jones would have explained it more if he knew it was going to be a public text approx 10 years afterwards. And if by chance the Paleoclimatic data were totally debunked, global warming itself would remain as established fact by other data sources (instrumental record showing highest rates of heating since 1977 than ever recorded in the ice core data, satellite temperature records, sea level rise records, ocean heat records, etc). Boy that was detailed for a book review, but necessary to give the true context.
But one would be totally wrong, if one thought Pearce was merely a defender of the Climate Mainstream Scientists and a detractor of the Climate Skeptics. He starts out in chapter 1 by saying there are "no heroes" here - fault can be found in virtually all the players. Wrt the Mainstream, he comes down hard on Michael Mann (too sure of himself and verbose), Phil Jones (too eager to refuse release of data to the skeptics' FOI request), Rajendra Pachauri (too defensive about IPCC reports that actually had several mistakes in it among it's thousands of assertions), Kevin Trenberth (too quick to claim hurricane frequency was due to global warming); and not so hard on Tom Wigley (ex- CRU boss), Keith Briffa (tree ring researcher at CRU), and Stephen Schneider (Stanford U). Wrt the skeptics side, he comes down hard on Pat Michaels, Fred Seitz, Anthony Watts, Ross McKitrict, Bennie Peiser, Jim Inhofe, Myron Ebell (for being ideologically motivated and too adamant in scientific fields they did not understand fully); and not so hard on Steven McIntyre (data sleuth), Dick Lindzen (hurricane researcher from MIT), John Christy (climatologist from UAH). He discusses all the pointed technical discussions concerning the Hockey Stick, CRU email wording/context, GlacierGate, Yamal tree ring data, number of stations in the temperature data, and the accounting for Urban Heat Island effects. You will find plenty of "red meat" about CRU and Manistream Scientist "tribalism", lack of williingness to release data, and sloppiness in the caretake of data. You will also find plenty of details of who funds the many skeptics orgainzation (and a few who hide their funding), and the outlandish PR coming from that side (e.g calling GW a "hoax", with data maliciously "manipulated", the earth is actually cooling). As such both sides could use this book selectively to badmouth the other side.
But in the end, Pearce believes that the Mainstream Scientist position is the correct one as he stated in the first paragraph of the final chapter (I'd like to quote it but not sure that I should copyright-wise). Pearce just believes the details have to be cleaned up in a very public/transparent/thorough way. I agree.
After reading this, I feel a thorough reconstruction of all the available "original" data needs to be done by truly independent people doing the heavy analysis with all "sides" as watchdogs/guides all working together (may be too much to ask for). None of the three CRU email investigative teams have had the time or charter to do so. This will in all likelihood prove out the mainstream position of man-caused global warming and the need to control greenhouse gases. But nontheless the interested public needs and deserves convincing (if such is possible). I also would demand a opening up of the global warming skeptic organizations' email files/data(if they have any) to similiar scrutiny as the CRU has received, all in the interest of truth.
The book is well written (a few Britainisms) and reads like a detective story. I recommend it highly to interested parties.