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The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth About Global Warming Paperback – August 15, 2010
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About the Author
- Publisher : Random House UK (August 15, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0852652291
- ISBN-13 : 978-0852652299
- Item Weight : 10.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,334,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The main contention of the book is that the Scientists in the eye of the storm - like Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Kevin Trenberth etc - meant well and that they did not try to hoodwink the public or act on behalf of some mega lobbies. The scientists were more guilty of omission rather than commission. He does not see a smoking gun pointing to big conspiracies or any scientific fraud. The author himself is obviously in support of the AGW theory because he says, "none of the 1,073 emails, or the 3,587 files containing documents, raw data and computer code upsets the 200-year-old science behind the "greenhouse effect". We might wish it weren't so, but the world still has a problem. A big problem".
Though I also believe that the scientists are people of integrity and honesty in general, I don't lightly dismiss the impact of the massive amount of money that seems to be involved in this whole saga. Many NGOs, the UN, major Western Governments and the Renewable Energy Sector are all big sources of funding for the support of AGW and hence, there can be a vested interest among scientists to keep looking for supporting evidence and dismissing data which are dissonant to AGW. Just as we cast doubt on the Skeptics for acting on behalf of the big fossil fuel companies, the scientists also must be subjected to greater scrutiny on this aspect of 'vested interest'. This is one issue the book does not deal with in relation to the email saga. The one other thing about the book is that it was written barely six months after the release of the emails in Nov 2009 and so one can wonder whether the author rushed to print without sufficient research. However, in the author's defence, he has been reporting on the subject for the Guardian newspaper for a couple of decades already and so a lot of the material might have come from his own past work.
One of the issues which seems to have emerged in this debate is doing Science in the modern context of Social Networking, emails and massive amount of scientific information on the internet. We find the scientists at CRU being dismissive of the rights of Skeptics like Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick to challenge the CRU scientists on Climate Science because they are just outsiders who are not scientists in the field or on the subject of Climate Science. However, Climategate shows that people like McIntyre are specialists in applied Statistics and they are able to analyze the methods used by scientists like Michael Mann and point out shortcomings in the way they have used Statistics to present the data. In some ways, the future of many areas of research could see well-informed outsiders challenging establishment scientists and asking for full disclosure of their data and methods in arriving at conclusions. The book shows that in the past twenty years, Climate scientists in the UK and the US have resisted these trends. One jarring note about the AGW believers is that they push the line that `Global Warming is settled science and a FACT and not just an opinion' and that there is consensus among scientists on this. The CRU scientists even accused the Skeptics of trying hard only to find errors in their data, methods and analysis! Even scientists at times can forget that the progress of Science has always happened only by such an approach!
In the end, the issue of the emails is not anywhere as important as the validity of the Computer models of Climate and the validity of the Forecasting method. Even scientists would admit that we do not know enough about the complexities of the interaction between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere and the cryosphere to model them without uncertainties or errors. It is better to be more humble about our knowledge and exercise restraint in forecasting probabilities for the real world for the next hundred years.
To be fair I am a skeptic about anthropogenic climate change but am convinced that climate change due to natural forces is constant. This book does a good job of describing the controversy between the two camps but leans visibly to the side of the UN Panel on Climate Change. However my main concern with this book was that it was preoccupied with the controversy between the camps and did not get into the actual science behind the controversy. The science is important.
But one would be totally wrong, if one thought Pearce was merely a defender of the Climate Mainstream Scientists and a detractor of the Climate Skeptics. He starts out in chapter 1 by saying there are "no heroes" here - fault can be found in virtually all the players. Wrt the Mainstream, he comes down hard on Michael Mann (too sure of himself and verbose), Phil Jones (too eager to refuse release of data to the skeptics' FOI request), Rajendra Pachauri (too defensive about IPCC reports that actually had several mistakes in it among it's thousands of assertions), Kevin Trenberth (too quick to claim hurricane frequency was due to global warming); and not so hard on Tom Wigley (ex- CRU boss), Keith Briffa (tree ring researcher at CRU), and Stephen Schneider (Stanford U). Wrt the skeptics side, he comes down hard on Pat Michaels, Fred Seitz, Anthony Watts, Ross McKitrict, Bennie Peiser, Jim Inhofe, Myron Ebell (for being ideologically motivated and too adamant in scientific fields they did not understand fully); and not so hard on Steven McIntyre (data sleuth), Dick Lindzen (hurricane researcher from MIT), John Christy (climatologist from UAH). He discusses all the pointed technical discussions concerning the Hockey Stick, CRU email wording/context, GlacierGate, Yamal tree ring data, number of stations in the temperature data, and the accounting for Urban Heat Island effects. You will find plenty of "red meat" about CRU and Manistream Scientist "tribalism", lack of williingness to release data, and sloppiness in the caretake of data. You will also find plenty of details of who funds the many skeptics orgainzation (and a few who hide their funding), and the outlandish PR coming from that side (e.g calling GW a "hoax", with data maliciously "manipulated", the earth is actually cooling). As such both sides could use this book selectively to badmouth the other side.
But in the end, Pearce believes that the Mainstream Scientist position is the correct one as he stated in the first paragraph of the final chapter (I'd like to quote it but not sure that I should copyright-wise). Pearce just believes the details have to be cleaned up in a very public/transparent/thorough way. I agree.
After reading this, I feel a thorough reconstruction of all the available "original" data needs to be done by truly independent people doing the heavy analysis with all "sides" as watchdogs/guides all working together (may be too much to ask for). None of the three CRU email investigative teams have had the time or charter to do so. This will in all likelihood prove out the mainstream position of man-caused global warming and the need to control greenhouse gases. But nontheless the interested public needs and deserves convincing (if such is possible). I also would demand a opening up of the global warming skeptic organizations' email files/data(if they have any) to similiar scrutiny as the CRU has received, all in the interest of truth.
The book is well written (a few Britainisms) and reads like a detective story. I recommend it highly to interested parties.