on May 15, 2004
In spite of the age of the book, I use this as a supplemental text to teach scientific method: skepticism and the demanding of proof. I find it fascinating that people who have not read the book opt to write a review of it. There are three - all one star - below, under the titles "One Amplified Voice", "Predictable" and "Corporate Propaganda."
Michaels explains that climate, which is defined as 30 years, and not to be confused with weather events, changes continuously. But climate has an estimated five million variables. That gives enough argumentation was to why public policy based on models, especially unproven ones, is a bad idea. Models have ten to three dozen variables. Michaels is proven right by the inaccuracy of predictions of the models, by the time the book came out and even more since. Michaels includes one model annecdote which was to run in reverse: predict what will happen in the next ice age. The bias was so strong, that while Chicago was buried under thousands of feet of ice, the polar ice cap still melted. He also quote a GW proponent when confronted with models' inaccuracy, "The data don't matter." But apparently, the models do matter when they disagree with the data; pure non sequitur.
Michaels leads the reader in layman's terms: why we are so uncertain, and why there is a likely chance to see hemispheric, rather than global warming, why it will probably be seasonal, why gradual warming may be more dangerous than rapid, what we know versus the Popular Vision, and why even if all of this comes to pass, it is not a panacea. I won't give away, or take the space on the former points, but on the last I will. A less hot summers, less cold winters climate would also be a utopia for insects. Note that Michaels does not speak with certainty but in reasoning and probability of proper science. This quite the opposite of the non- and anti-scientific method types with their absolutes, best understood as proselytism.
Michaels is also quite polite. For example, The Challenger shuttle disaster was in 1987. Congress was questioning all aspects of NASA, and future funding of it in 1988. NASA, before Congress, tin cup in hand, was in trouble and proposed needing funding for the study of the probablility of GW as a way to maintain political survival more than scientific. Michaels does not mention Challenger or NASA's predicament. He picks up with the congressional testimony, the sceintifically illiterate media picking up on it - just listen to CNN today - and the birth of the Popular Vision. Michaels acknowledges the strong possibility of some type of warming. Note again three negative reviews that claim he denies it. If one has any interest in the subject of GW or in understanding proper scientific method, I assign this one because I have yet to find another that is better.