Minireviews: David Archer – The Long Thaw, Michaels and Balling – Climate of Extremes

David Archer – The Long Thaw (2009)

An overview of what climate scientists know – and don’t know – about climate change in the past, the present, and the distant future.

Recommended: Yes. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with this one. Archer is a level-headed writier. Maybe that’s why I find it more chilling when he explains that he has no idea what could trigger a massive land ice meltdown than when James Hansen say it’s definitely going to happen.

Patrick J. Michaels, Robert C Balling Jr – Climate of Extremes (2009)

Global warming is real, and is caused by human CO2-emissions, but the effect is possibly a bit smaller than the IPCC believes. It’s too soon to blame global warming for hurricanes and other extreme weather events, and too soon to tell what it will do to the land and ocean ice. Climate scientists do in general know what they’re talking about, but there may be a publication bias in favor of “worse than we thought” papers in scientific journals, and there is definitely one in the general media. Listen to climate scientists, never to journalists.

Recommended: Yes. This is one climate skeptical book I have no problem recommending. This is how skepticism is supposed to work. Michaels and Balling are not mindless contrarians, and their main criticism is aimed at how climate science is presented by non-scientists, not the science itself. Their temperature argument isn’t convincing, but “too soon to tell” is probably closer to the consensus than “we’re driving off a cliff”.