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The Resilient Earth: Science, Global Warming and the Fate of Humanity Kindle Edition
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The remainder of the book is concerned basically with the questions of how strong the influence of human activity on climate is, how good the evidence for that is, how fast climate change is likely to occur, what the effects of climate change will be, and whether any of the proposed measures will be effective. These are exactly the right questions to ask of both policymakers and scientists, and the answers are nowhere near as clear cut as they are frequently presented.
In terms of climate change, looking at longer term climate history, it is clear that the planet has undergone massive cooling and warming over time, without any human intervention, and that such change is likely inevitable in the long term. And looking at the history of life, it is clear that the kind of change we are currently facing has not threatened life or even mammalian life. In particular, we are coming out of an ice age, and it is inevitable that sea levels will rise substantially, that the polar ice caps will melt, and that species will die out, even without human activity--like has happened many times before. Human carbon emissions probably are accelerating the process a little, but it is inevitable in the long term. Of course, in the short terms, we might even face another massive glaciation event, which would likely be far more harmful to humans. Given the choice of glaciation and warming, warming would be far preferable.)
The book spends a bit more time discussing the economic effects and the ability of humans to adapt to such changes. It then goes on to look at the plausibility of countermeasures: even if we start with the premise that carbon emissions are dangerous and we want to reduce them to pre-industrial levels, what can be done about them? The sobering realization is that there is no effective technical, political or economic means of making effective changes: Kyoto merely burdens industrialized nations without being an effective remedy, and no government on earth is going to be able to enact the kind of draconian measures to actually reduce carbon emissions to substantially reduce anthropogenic effects.
The books conclusion is effectively that many of the policies proposed for fighting climate change are good policies: increase energy efficiency, reduce the use of non-renewable fuels, develop renewable energy sources. But they are good policies for reasons pretty much unrelated to climate change. The policy implication of climate change is that, anthropogenic or not, climate change is inevitable and human societies better be prepared to deal with it, lest humans join the long list of species extinct because they couldn't adapt to the inevitably changing conditions on earth.
In the highly politicized discussions about climate change, many people will dismiss this book sight unseen as a book written by a bunch of cranks with some kind of hidden agenda. It is none of those things. It is a well written science book that happens to bring together mainstream and up-to-date science that happens to be relevant to the question of climate change and policy. In fact, overall, the book is fairly unpolitical and you can in good conscience still vote for your preferred political party after reading it. What the book will do is remove some of the hysteria and hyperbole surrounding the issue and give you a lot of the scientific background to actually try to understand what the science is actually all about.
Among the topics presented in detail in this book are the earth's time intervals - eons, eras, periods, and epochs of earth`s geological history. Each concept is clearly defined. All the time intervals of the earth are presented in tables with the names and dates. The authors also discuss ice ages, the major time intervals of extinction of earth species such as the end of the Permian period and the end of the Cretaceous period, the changes in the earth's orbit around the sun and the Milankovitch cycles, The tectonic plates at the surface of the earth and how these plates effect the movement of continents over time, and the effect of the solar magnetic field and cosmic rays on the earth's climate. The authors also detail the differences between earth and Venus and how these differences cause abrupt dissimilarity in climate.
Regarding the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis the authors discuss the scientific method and the failure of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) to adhere to it. Specifically the authors detail the unreliability of the IPCC simulated computer climate models. The authors also take to task climate alarmists who publish fallacious pseudo scientific papers based on unreliable or messaged data and/or methodologies. Included among these false reports is the infamous hockey stick of Michael Mann.
Regarding anthropogenic global warming the authors see "no immediate threat" (p. 312). However they believe carbon dioxide could be a major problem in the future. The authors reject as ineffective and harmful such environmentalist proposed solutions as wind power and carbon cap and trade. Instead the authors propose among other solutions certain solar power technologies, a great expansion of nuclear power, more energy efficient homes, and transportation alternatives.
Messrs. Simmons and Hoffman perceive a greater threat from anthropogenic carbon dioxide than I do. The earth's carbon dioxide level in the last millennium is the lowest it has been since the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago. Yet this book is and excellent resource. The book deserves to be widely read.
Right up front this book, read crossing the Atlantic from Madrid with a bad case of bronchitis, forces me to go back and downgrade my reviews of everything by Al Gore, and insert an update with apology and revisit for the work of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World whose new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (Vintage) I am buying today as part of my apology. In the process of just doing that, I discovered Lomborg's edited work, Global Crises, Global Solutions and the first two words I saw, "Copenhagen Consensus," sold me. Denmark is one of a tiny handful of "smart nations" and pioneered the citizen wisdom council concept that Jim Rough writes about in Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People.
Opening quote on page 5: "Fedor Dostoevsky once said, `A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else." What an epitaph for partisan governance based on lies.
Before I lay out my fly-leaf notes, a comment spanning all the books I have read:
1. It is not just the Republican's who make war on science, the Democrats do as well. The two-party tyranny is corrupt across the board, and its worst crime after selling out to Wall Street and eradicating the integrity of the electoral process has been to dumb down the Republic and stifle informed inquiry and deliberative dialog.
2. America--and the world--have largely lost the art of critical thinking, what Jack Davis calls "analytic tradecraft," and in consequence our governments, corporations, and other entities are "out of control." We desperately need "Open Everything" and a renaissance of collaborative consensus with full access to all the facts.
The author's have, for me, pushed the reset button. They provide a tremendous catalogue of scare stories and inaccuracies, and in all this, take special care to demolish Al Gore in absentia (since he will not accept any public debate, only "safe" didactic "shows"). In a court of law Gore's film is found to have nine explicit and substantial errors of fact.
+ Scientists don't understand their own science, especially in historical context, the public is a hundred times worse off. WE HAVE A BILLION YEARS TO GO BEFORE EARTH GETS 10% HOTTER.
+ The climate system may be the most complex system within the system of systems called Earth, and our knowledge of it is pathetically incomplete.
+ Science permeates every aspect of public and private life, if we do not restore our citizens' grasp of science we will lose the ability to make good communal decisions that are sustainable.
+ The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is roasted (pun intended) and once again we see the need for total transparency of all UN data and findings so as to better understand their errors of omission and commission.
+ "Species come and go but 'life' is tougher than anything." This was a hugely important observation for me, backed up by documented examples of where the Earth has previously gone through 75-85% extinctions, combined with the observation that the time line between two pulses of a single extinction "event" was TEN MILLION YEARS!
+ Methane from animals is in the top three of climate change factors, one more reason to listen to Francis Lappe Moore in Diet for a Small Planet.
+ The book trashes the US Department of Energy on multiple fronts, points out that NASA and DoE do not play well together such that space-based energy options are not being properly researched and developed, and is generally very pro nuclear to include waste no longer being an issue with new processing methodologies.
+ They favor a carbon tax rather than cap and trade, the latter too corrupt.
Page 255, sources of modeling error:
1. Model imperfection
2. Omission of important processes
3. Lack of knowledge of internal conditions
4. Sensitivity to initial conditions
5. Unresolved heterogeneity
6. Occurrence of external forcing
7. Inapplicability of the factor of safety concept
Over-all I was impressed by the totality of the project in this book, which provides a superb history of Earth along with superb reviews of the various sciences that must be brought to bear on climate change. This is a tremendous primer, along with the other books I link to, and I strongly recommend it for both undergraduate and graduate courses as well as the general adult reader. I actually have a note, no kidding, "This book inspires reverence."
This is a brilliantly told story, carefully constructed. The chapter on Cosmic Rays was completely new to me and totally absorbing.
Their own proposed program:
+ Use renewable energy where possible
+ Be aggressive on hybrid transport
+ Build energy-efficient buildings
+ Overhaul national and continental power grids (they do not mention Buckminster Fuller's global plan)
+ Work on solar both land and space-based.
+ Rapidly expand nuclear capacity while adopting safe recycling.
There is a superb discussion of error and uncertainty, including random error and the misapplication of statistics as well as incomplete data and models that are a travesty of false assumptions and relations.
I put the book down feeling somewhat righteous, as their final conclusion boils down to this: Politics is about consensus, Science is about being right rather than being believed. Governments--and the scientists and media personalities that serve as courtiers to governments, are fraudulent and not serving the public interest. Intelligence, done right, is similar to science: the truth at any cost. E Veritate Potens.
The summary is very well done and the ending was "practically poetic."
Other books I recommend to balance this one:
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
See all of my Reviews, and Graphics that Amazon destroyed, at the Public Intelligence Blog, Phi Beta Iota.
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