Tag Archives: climatology

Book: Climate: The Counter Consensus

Climate the Counter Consensus

Sharp, focused, lucid rebuttal to the climate change consensus. Very academic.
316 pages, ★★★★

I love ecology, I love climate science and I love reading climate skeptics’ arguments. They’re optimistic yet scientific at the same time. After reading books like Climate, I feel reassured and optimistic about the future—and this is exactly where mainstream climate science books fail. Climate reassures the reader by presenting boundless evidence in support of the Gaia Hypothesis that James Lovelock proposed back in 1965.

The Gaia Hypothesis suggested that Earth isn’t just teeming with life, but that Earth itself is a giant living organism: a giant living cell, if you like. The implications of this hypothesis were (a) that planet Earth is alive, by some standards; (b) that planet Earth is designed to heal itself from any reasonable amount of damage, and has done so in the past; and (c) that Earth, no matter what humans do to it, will fix itself eventually even if the repair process involves ridding the Earth of Homo sapiens altogether. (This idea that our planet is a giant, healthy, happy organism could only have prevailed in the 1960s!)

The first of these self-healing Gaia-like feedback loops is about cycles in solar intensity. We know that solar intensity cycles every 11 years and every 60 years due to solar activity, and also cycles every 23, 41 and 100 thousand years due to changes in the Earth’s orbit. Armed with this knowledge, Climate debunks all the major climate myths without mercy, saying that present climate change is linked to changes in solar activity and will self-correct in due course. Regardless of whether this is true, this notion at least has entertainment value for doomsayers and naysayers alike. (For the record, I keep my distance from climate politics!)

Other reassurances in this book include the CO2-temperature link being ‘tenuous’, the temperature rises being much smaller than predicted (despite ever-increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations) and how plant growth and water usage is increased greatly by increased atmospheric CO2. All of these claims are based on solid evidence. (Surprisingly, the author doesn’t make any “warming would be good anyway” arguments—some scientists do.)

My only criticism of this book is that it becomes too academic towards the end. It tackles the Stern Review, Mann’s hockey stick and the IPCC’s Assessment Reports head-on. (These are battles I was hoping the author would avoid.) I would have preferred if this book had retained its balanced, optimistic tone throughout. Instead, we’re served up an intense academic rebuttal of ten current consensus. (for a more positive, thesis-driven (as opposed to antithesis-driven) argument, read Bjørn Lomborg’s Cool It! instead. ).

Overall, this climate book is a thrilling ride up to around page 200. The ending (I’m not spoiling anything here—it’s non-fiction!) is an academic barrage rather than a call for balance in climate science, which I would have preferred, but I still enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with the book’s thesis or not.

Recommended for people who have already done extensive reading about climate science. For beginners, read Cool It! by Bjørn Lomborg instead. ★★★★


Book: The Dance of Air & Sea

The Dance of Air & Sea
Only a book this good deserves Helvetica (probably the most beautiful font).

Beautiful. Thematically, like Nocturne for the oceans. Stylistically unparalleled.
288 pages, ★★★★★

It’s a pleasure to read, “we’re all super-interconnected” in a climatology book, especially when most other books are clinging to Al Gore’s domesday-and-guilt formula. Cool It! avoided that spin very successfully, but even that [four-star] book lacked the depth of this one. The Dance of Air & Sea excels in its field: not only is it rational and well-referenced, but it’s also interlaced with stories, history and wisdom. This book is full of stories that other people will be interested to hear.

The Dance of Air & Sea is far more knowledge-rich than its moon-based counterpart, Nocturne. This book’s author, Arnold H. Taylor, has been an oceanography professor for 30 years at Plymouth Marine Laboratory—arguably the best place in the world for ocean research—and is thus perfectly suited to write this book. He is a well-read, high-level academic, which makes every sentence interesting either culturally or scientifically. Reading this, I made a lot of notes.

Some interesting snippets from this book include:

Page 32: containers of floating, plastic toys were spilled into the ocean and tracked by satellite to monitor ocean currents

Page 58: trawler-fishing is a double-edged sword: predators are harmed more than prey, allowing the prey population (usually the stuff we eat) to grow stronger in the long-term.

Page 100: oceanic chlorophyll cools the oceans by up to 1°C. Lose the chlorophyll, and the ocean warms up!

Page 130: oceans are remarkably interconnected: when there’s high pressure in the Pacific Ocean or the Azores, for example, we can expect low pressure in the Indian Ocean or in Iceland at the same time—pressures behave rather like a giant, atmospheric see-saw.

And much more…

Readers who enjoy Bill Bryson and Stephen Fry will love this book: it goes much further academically, but retains the relaxed, knowledge-rich tone that both Bryson and Fry also possess. Definitely five stars for this book. Now, I want to find a book like this about Chemistry. ★★★★★