8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A rhetorical capitalist view of global warming,
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This review is from: An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (Hardcover)
Lawson readily acknowledges that he is not a scientist in this book which is an extension of a think-tank lecture that he gave. So his method is to attack the credibility of science while promoting that of economics. He is particularly harsh in his criticism of peer review and its protection of the conventional wisdom, but sometimes that view is right. Peer review is terrible and the politics of science are appalling. Many scientists, including those climate scientists who refused to make their data public should be dismissed from their positions for misconduct as they are not good scientists behaving either ethically or scientifically.
However he needs a better argument than peer review is bad to dismiss the evidence. His economic arguments are powerful and well argued until you think about growth. Is unlimited growth possible? Do we have unlimited resources? Does growth depend on the use of more "free" natural resources? Is there a future cost of these resources that we should be paying for now? For other views on this there is the current debate on the price of Helium as an example of a quantified very finite resource. Also the books The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin, and The Second Law by Peter Atkins show why the growth projections he makes are probably unsustainable and as wrong as those of the IPCC and the Stern report.
His main point is that we just don't know and in that he is right. But he doesn't know any better than anyone else and his economic arguments are equally flawed. He is right that human adaptation will ameliorate many of the effects, but he is overly optimistic that this can be done by the free-market. The free-market leads us to the problem of the Tragedy of the Commons as we have seen in fishing policy on the Canadian grand banks.
From a science perspective there are also some glaring mistakes. Bio-ethanol and dung burning are renewable but they are not non-carbon energy sources. So he confuses renewable with non-carbon. We need to use more renewable for the reasons set out by Atkins in the Second Law, but this has nothing to do with warming. In the last chapter his arguments about this being a new religion in secular Europe are ridiculous. Does he really want southern bible belt anti-evolutionists making the political decisions? He should have taken this argument out as it undermines his other sensible points.
So while I would recommend anyone interested in climate change to read this book it just makes up one side of the argument and it does not represent a balanced or impartial view.
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Initial post: 19 Feb 2013 03:11:44 GMT
> ...he needs a better argument than peer review is bad to dismiss the evidence
Can you point me to the page where he 'dismisses the evidence'? As I recall he accepts the worst case predictions of the IPCC and Stern as a starting point for his discussion of sensible economic responses to the alleged problem.
> His arguments about this being a new religion are ridiculous
I thought they were very apposite. The parallels are many and obvious.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Apr 2013 20:16:26 BDT
Andrew Dalby says:
I think you need to recall it by reading it again. His message in a sentence is; I am not an expert, I am a Lord and politician so what I say must be right regardless of anything that contradicts my silly biased view.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 May 2013 01:54:38 BDT
I don't recall that section either. You must have been reading a different book to the one I read.
PS. Interesting to see you admiringly mention a book by James Martin in your review. According to his Bio on Wikipedia Martin lives on his own private island in Bermuda:
"The island has guest houses, a beach area, a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts and docks. The island is privately owned by British author and multi-millionaire James Martin.... He has built a multi-million dollar development here.... Martin, now in his 70s, divides his time between a mountaintop estate in Vermont, a home in South Africa, and this island."
And this is the guy who says "It is possible to immensely improve our quality of life without increasing greenhouse gases or using up an unsustainable share of the planet's resources."
Yeah right. I'll take Lawsons appeal to reason over Martin's rank hypocrisy and sanctimony anyday.
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