Patrick J. Michaels “Meltdown – The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media”

ISBN 1 930865 59 7. “Meltdown – The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media”. Written by Patrick J. Michaels and published by the Cato Institute in 2004. The Authors talks of the Cato Institute as being a “liberal think tank” and we can interpret this as placing it somewhere BETWEEN the Environmental Lobby and the Market-dogma on the Neo-Cons. Given that ‘environmentalism’ is somewhat mainstream these days, and that neo-liberalism is becoming increasingly right-of-center then we may think of this as being fairly right wing and broadly Republican. Yes, this is a US-parochial work. The vast majority of the evidence presented concerns the science and reporting of issues in the USA. It only journeys further a field if the author thinks he has evidence to back his cause. And his cause it this: Global Warming is real and man-made but it will only create small increases in temperature and we can adapt to this, as can the environment. He makes a very good case and we do recommend that everyone reads this. But with BIG caveats. This is not an argument for complacency. The Cato Institute is funded by Exxon (see www.exxonsecrets.org). So we should be suspicious when Michaels argues that deaths from heat waves will be mitigated by fitting Air-Conditioning to the homes of old-people. He neglects to tell us where the energy will come from in 2050 in order to power his air-con. So this is certainly ‘small-picture’ stuff not big-picture. He mostly uses statistics to demolish some stories although these are carefully chosen. He uses the falling temperatures between 1940 to 1960 to counteracts recent temperature rises to try and argue that none of the computer models work and that recent rises prove nothing. However, his analysis doesn’t really go back far enough making it a classic case of lies and damn lies…. He does make some VERY good points in the book and sure, there have been some excesses that he has exposed. However, his central thesis that Global Warming hysteria is driven by Politicians and self-serving Scientists defies all intuition. Mind you, he is dealing with the Federal Grant structure for science in the USA and they have a lot of money to give away. As a counterpoint please read Ross Gelbspan’s “Boiling Point” which shows the other side of the story. It is far more intuitive to believe that few Politicians are willing talk about Global Warming as they see it as Political suicide. Whilst, for scientists, outside of the USA there is more evidence that they are making it up than there is that Doctors invent new diseases. Do they exaggerate for funding? Possibly but not significantly. Does Michael’s argument that the Scientific establishment follows the ‘Global-Warming-as-Disaster’ “paradigm” such that peer review is ineffective and favours only doom and gloom? This is interesting but holds little water outside the USA. This book cites fifty examples but these predate 2003 and go back as far as the 1980’s. Are they pertinent for 2009 now we know so much more? The news isn’t getting any better and Politicians still aren’t doing anything. Michaels makes no mention of tipping points nor the rising acidity of the oceans. Even if the oceans absorb all that CO2 that still leaves most of the planet dead. Air-con won’t help if you are starving….

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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