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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Two on the go.

Obligatory disclaimer...

At this time, I'm working on two climate related books at once.

The first is The Cooling; Has the next ice age already begun? Can we survive it? by Lowell Ponte. For those of you old enough to remember, back in the 70's, the great climate disaster awaiting us was global cooling, not warming. I'm not even a quarter of the way into the book yet, but it's fascinating reading. So many of the same things now used to promote AGW were used to promote AGC. Like warming, the cooling was blamed on humans; particularly industry. Where AGW proponents talk about CO2 now, it was aerosols - the particulate matter spewed into the atmosphere by human activity, as well as natural causes such as volcanoes and forest fires - that were being being blamed for AGC. A vast, vague conspiracy of industry types, especially in oil and coal, is also blamed for the lack of government action to stop climate change. The author does, however, discuss natural causes for cooling more than human causes, with a great deal of text dedicated to describing the role of the sun, as well as things like the Earth's tilt and wobble, changing geography, etc.

The main difference between this book and anything I've read from the AGW proponents is that this author doesn't pretend that there's any sort of consensus among scientists, and the author is a lot more respectful of those with opposing viewpoints than today's AGW proponents are. It even devotes a chapter to warming, which some were claiming even then (though predictions at the time were of a 400 ft rise in sea level; a far cry from even Gore's exaggerated projection of 20 ft, or the IPCC claim of, at most, 17 inches - unless that's changed again). The author then explains why the claims made don't make sense. Interesting that it was already known then, that CO2 has a limited influence on global temperature.

While some of what's described in this book is no longer accurate, it's only because modern technology has enabled us to gather more, and more accurate, information. Even so, the information in the book hasn't necessarily been proven wrong, so much as incomplete.

It's enlightening to read an older book on climate change like this, and see so many similarities between claims for cooling then, and claims for warming now. This is especially true in the language of urgency and crisis that are being used. Back in 1975, the predictions of doom and disaster were exactly the same as they are now, but for opposite reasons!

Another interesting perspective to read about. In The Cooling, one of the subjects discussed is glaciers. After demonstrating how much glaciers had been growing in the previous decades, it then goes on to claim how disastrous this is for the Earth and human survival.

Today, as many glaciers recede, AGW proponents tells us that this spells disaster for the Earth and human survival.

So either way, we're toast, apparently. *L*

It's also interesting to read about things that have since changed dramatically. One example is that, during the time The Cooling talks about, the Northern hemisphere was in a cooling trend, while the Southern hemisphere was warming. Today, it appears to be the other way around.

The other book I'm working on is Taken By Storm; The troubled science, policy and politics of global warming, by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick. I actually just started this one today, and am finding it an amazingly enlightening read! It grabs you right from the preface, where it opens with the following quote from Albert Einstein.

In the realm of the seekers after truth there is no human authority. Whoever attempts to play the magistrate there founders on the laughter of the Gods.

This quote sets the feel for the entire book so far, as the authors explain how scientific consensus in *anything* runs counter to scientific thinking, which is pretty much to question and doubt everything. It then goes on to explain how and why the notion of consensus, among other beliefs about AGW, came to be. It's been a fascinating read so far.

I'll be blogging my thoughts on both books as I read them.

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