4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A stirring account of the defence of science, 28 April 2013
Michael Mann, the lead author of key articles proposing the "hockey stick", tells the grim story of the denialist campaign - and the fight back against it - in this book. I strongly recommend it.
Mann gives a lay person's introduction to paleoclimatology, i.e. the study of "proxy records" such as tree rings, fossils and ice cores, which have enabled scientists to ascertain temperatures for thousands of years prior to the 1880s, when measurements began to be recorded. From the 1980s, paleoclimatological research deepened scientists' understanding of long-term climate trends, enabling them to interpret current climate and make predictions about future possibilities with greater confidence.
Mann also traces the growth of climate denialism in American political culture during the 1990s, and the response to it at the highest levels of government during the George Bush administration (2000-08). He explains very clearly the distinction between scientific debate and scepticism on one hand and the battle with the denialists, whose methods undermine science.
Mann describes how climate scientists logically and repeatedly demolished the denialists' arguments - which were usually published by non-scientists, or scientists in other fields, in journals not adhering to standard review processes. Nevertheless, the denialists' quackery was recycled endlessly in the media. The hand of oil and coal companies, who funded - and still fund - climate-denying lobbying organisations, was never far away.
Mann points a frightful picture of the vilification of climate scientists by politicians such as Texas congressman Joe Barton, and the uncritical repetition of denialist arguments by journalists who should have known better. At the height of these "climate wars", Mann and other climate scientists set up the Real Climate site, to explain their work to non-scientists and counter the denialist barrage in cyberspace. Bookmark it!