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on 29 August 2014
Should be read by all those who want to keep an open mind about global warming. Lawson is vilified as a climate change denier but he actually makes a compelling case for seeing climate change as an economic challenge. He is prepared to stick his head above the parapet and challenge the accepted orthodoxy. It makes no sense to shut down the world economy to prevent climate change. Doing so will condemn those already living in poverty to a very bleak future. He argues that we should support economic growth and use our wealth to mitigate the effects of climate change. Well written and persuasive.
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on 12 August 2015
Well written and researched. He does not say global warming isn't happening but he does challenge the voracity of the science. Most of all he questions the quasi-religous ferver that is associated with the subject and how debate is being stifled by denying any platform to those who challenge the 'perceived wisdom'! Furthermore he questions the 'science' as to what might be achieved in stopping or slowing down global warming, the vast amounts of money being spent and the questionable methods being used, and finally the potential futility of what it is hoped to achieve. Certainly makes one think seriously that this has become more political than science and ultimately who or what is driving the agenda and why.
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on 23 June 2014
This is by far the best "sceptic" book on the subject, I put inverted commas because the author declares that he accepts the majority scientific view on AGW and admits he's not a scientist and is in no position to argue otherwise, but his principle skepticism is of how we handle it.

This sets his book apart from much of the mad ravings of the climate change deniers who don't even recognize that man is responsible for the 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 (this is 100% provable due to the particular carbon isotopes from fossil fuel combustion present in the 'new' CO2 that's measured in the atmosphere, and also quite simply from historical records of coal and oil production/consumption).

In a nutshell, the authors argument boils down to:

There's a good chance AGW will be beneficial, we've plenty of time to adapt, and future generations will be much richer and able to deal with it anyway.

Basically he's an optimist.

He does however recognize the risk of catastrophic global warming, where positive feedbacks could put us on a slippery slope to a climate similar to the planet Venus, and does advocate a carbon tax instead of cap and trade (which he describes as a scam), and geo-engineering (putting aerosols into the stratosphere to block sunlight) as an emergency measure.

A few things that irritated me about this book however was the authors constant and mostly unqualified use of the word 'ubsurd' to dismiss many genuine concerns and in particular renewable energy. He states that the UK achieving 20% of its electricity from renewables is "beyond credibility", and yet Scotland now gets over 30% of its electricity from renewables, and Portugal gets over 50%.

Also, his suggestion that we could be giving kids food poisoning by not having a dishwasher and washing dishes in hand-hot water was his 'let them eat cake' moment in this book. Does he think everyone in the UK can afford and has the space for a dishwasher at home?
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on 25 January 2009
This is a short and well-written book, provocative and full of smart and no nonsense arguments. Lawson provides end notes for each chapter and all bibliographical sources are properly referenced. The book's aim is to examine each of the dimensions of the consensus view of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), including the science, the economics, the politics, and the ethical aspects. He is concerned with the uncertainties of long-term forecasting and the lack of a real cost-effectiveness analysis in the policies recommended and advocated by the majority view on climate change, particularly by the radical change in lifestyle that will have to take place in the developed countries, and the unnecessary burden that will be put on the poor in the developing world. Lawson questions the fundamentals of AGW orthodoxy just armed with common sense, his political experience, and some very clever back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Lawson opens the book arguing that although he agrees that there is a real warming trend, he is skeptical of the validity of predictions made with global climate simulation models, and more importantly, he questions if indeed the sole cause of this warming is man-made greenhouses and how big the contribution of CO2 is. Lawson also raises several issues regarding the IPCC process, its findings and policy recommendations, and throughout the book he strongly criticizes the The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, which he considers "at the extreme end of the alarmist camp".

He might not be right in all the issues, but certainly he will at least let you wonder about some of them. Besides the reasonable critic of the economics, I found particularly robust his argument regarding the lack of falsifiability of climate simulation models and their predictions, which means that these complex models do not meet one of the most basic criteria required for any theory to be considered within the domain of science (for more on falsifiability read Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Routledge Classics)). He sarcastically notes the fact that all models have failed so far to predict that there has been no further warming between 2001 and 2007. And by the way, this trend continued during 2008, ending with one the coolest boreal winters in recent decades (just Google to verify by yourself). Personally I do not think this recent short trend means that AGW is not real but more likely just part of the normal blips within long term climate patterns, in this case regarding the effects of the normal sunspot cycles and La Niña, as Lawson later in the book explains. However, it is a good example of the risks of advocating a cause with incomplete science, oversimplifications and by obstructing any real scientific debate.

After making his case in Chapter 1 about why he thinks "the science of global warming is far from settle", Lawson proceeds as any respectable economist would do, and assumes a prudent position "to err on the side of caution". Therefore, for the rest of the book he works under the assumption that the AGW theory is correct as reported by the IPPC's 2007 Report (see Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Climate Change 2007) - a PDF version is available for free through the web) .

First he goes on to discus the practical consequences of the predicted warming over the next hundred years, based on the IPCC scenarios and policy recommendations. Next he analyzes the importance of adaptation, what Lawson claims is the IPPC's most serious flaw regarding the impact of global warming, as there is a "systematic underestimation of the benefits of adaptation" and "the most cost-effective way of addressing the likely consequences" as opposed to reducing CO2 emissions. He also is critical of the Stern Review and the Kyoto Protocol and the practical difficulties of reaching a global agreement. Then he discusses the different technologies and market alternatives being implemented and available to reduce emissions, closing with his own proposal to impose a carbon tax across the board, but implemented simultaneously with a reduction of other taxes to compensate for the extra revenues and avoiding any additional burden on the taxpayer. The book closes with a discussion about the discount rates used by the IPCC and the Stern Review in their economic analysis, with a more detailed discussion on the latter. The book ends with a warning about the dangers of the environmental movement, calling it "the new religion of eco-fundamentalism" and claiming that "we appear to have entered a new age of unreason."

I highly recommended this book for those with a genuine interest in the AGW controversy, and particularly in the aspects regarding the economics of mitigation and/or adaptation that will be necessary and that is being debated right now.
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on 16 September 2008
This is a wonderful book. As the title suggests, it is cool, reasonable, and patient, looking carefully at all the evidence and coming to conclusions which it is hard to disagree with.

Like other reviewers, I find it hard to take excerpts from the book because I would have to quote the whole thing! However, perhaps I may try to help anyone who is wondering whether to read it. One way to look at the global warming/climate change debate is to ask oneself three questions.

First, is the world getting warmer?
Second, is human activity, and specifically CO2, a major cause?
And third, does it matter? Will there be harmful consequences? And if so, what should we do about them?

Much of the angry debate between believers and sceptics rages round the first two points. Lawson surveys the evidence on both, and comes to a conclusion. But what makes this book so powerful is its focus on the third question: whether a warmer world is one that will harm people, animals, plants, and our descendants. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) argues that it will. Lawson disagrees. He takes us through the IPCC scenarios, and their range of predictions relating to five potential impacts of a warmer world: on water, ecosystems, food, coasts, and health. In each case he demonstrates, with evidence, that a warmer world will either be neutral or even beneficial. What makes this evidence particularly persuasive is that much of it is drawn from the IPCC's own 4th report (2007)!.

It would be wrong to think of this book as complacent, a kind of 'I'm all right, Jack, pull up the ladder'. As Lawson points out, the single major cause of ill-health and death in the world is poverty, and if we take the standpoint of human welfare, the surest way to benefit humans is to lift them out of poverty. Lawson sees many serious problems facing the world, and many things that urgently need putting right. The view of this compelling and convincing book is that global warming isn't one of them.
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on 27 July 2014
China opens a new coal-fired power station every couple of days and here in Britain our people and businesses are being penalised by those who claim global warming is a man-made phenomenon we can tackle. Read this book and discover the truth!
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on 25 July 2014
If you want a sensible level headed evaluation of the Climate-Change debacle. read this book. It approaches from an economic viewpoint and sets everything out clearly. No wonder "Alarmists" refuse to debate live with Lord Lawson.
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on 21 June 2013
Lawson, one of Thatcher's right hand men when she brought McGregor from the U.S. at a cost of one million pounds plus in order to 'smash the miners'... Could I really see myself picking up a book by Nigel, let alone reading it ? Well, I did, and I'm glad I did. He provides an amazing insight into the debate, with indisputable facts and figures. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would accept the perfect reasoning of a 'thatcherite'. He deserves praise whilst you deserve to read his 'truths'.
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on 17 May 2013
Though no fan of Nigel Lawson's politics. I found this to be informative and refreshing. a good deal of common sense and realism. and although the first part of the book calls into question the science behind global warming theory most of the book's focus is on how to approach it's potential effects focusing on real world reasons for this. a must read for anyone interested in the global warming/climate change issues.
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on 18 June 2015
One of the few people who calmly explains one of the biggest and most expensive mistakes in human history.
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