Review: The Resilient Earth–Science, Global Warming and the Future of Humanity

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5.0 out of 5 stars Pushes the Re-Set Button on Both Gore and Lomborg
October 3, 2009
Doug L. Hoffman and Allen Simmons
The more I read, the less I know and the more frustrated I grow with the insanity of academic, government, corporate, and non-governmental stovepipes of knowledge in isolation.

Right up front this book, read crossing the Atlantic from Madrid with a bad case of bronchitis, forces me to go back and downgrade my reviews of everything by Al Gore, and insert an update with apology and revisit for the work of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World whose new book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming (Vintage) I am buying today as part of my apology. In the process of just doing that, I discovered Lomborg’s edited work, Global Crises, Global Solutions and the first two words I saw, “Copenhagen Consensus,” sold me. Denmark is one of a tiny handful of “smart nations” and pioneered the citizen wisdom council concept that Jim Rough writes about in Society’s Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People.

Opening quote on page 5: “Fedor Dostoevsky once said, `A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else.” What an epitaph for partisan governance based on lies.

Before I lay out my fly-leaf notes, a comment spanning all the books I have read:

1. It is not just the Republican’s who make war on science, the Democrats do as well. The two-party tyranny is corrupt across the board, and its worst crime after selling out to Wall Street and eradicating the integrity of the electoral process has been to dumb down the Republic and stifle informed inquiry and deliberative dialog.

2. America–and the world–have largely lost the art of critical thinking, what Jack Davis calls “analytic tradecraft,” and in consequence our governments, corporations, and other entities are “out of control.” We desperately need “Open Everything” and a renaissance of collaborative consensus with full access to all the facts.

The author’s have, for me, pushed the reset button. They provide a tremendous catalogue of scare stories and inaccuracies, and in all this, take special care to demolish Al Gore in absentia (since he will not accept any public debate, only “safe” didactic “shows”). In a court of law Gore’s film is found to have nine explicit and substantial errors of fact.

My notes:

+ Scientists don’t understand their own science, especially in historical context, the public is a hundred times worse off. WE HAVE A BILLION YEARS TO GO BEFORE EARTH GETS 10% HOTTER.

+ The climate system may be the most complex system within the system of systems called Earth, and our knowledge of it is pathetically incomplete.

+ Science permeates every aspect of public and private life, if we do not restore our citizens’ grasp of science we will lose the ability to make good communal decisions that are sustainable.

+ The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is roasted (pun intended) and once again we see the need for total transparency of all UN data and findings so as to better understand their errors of omission and commission.

+ “Species come and go but ‘life’ is tougher than anything.” This was a hugely important observation for me, backed up by documented examples of where the Earth has previously gone through 75-85% extinctions, combined with the observation that the time line between two pulses of a single extinction “event” was TEN MILLION YEARS!

+ Methane from animals is in the top three of climate change factors, one more reason to listen to Francis Lappe Moore in Diet for a Small Planet.

+ The book trashes the US Department of Energy on multiple fronts, points out that NASA and DoE do not play well together such that space-based energy options are not being properly researched and developed, and is generally very pro nuclear to include waste no longer being an issue with new processing methodologies.

+ They favor a carbon tax rather than cap and trade, the latter too corrupt.

Page 255, sources of modeling error:

1. Model imperfection

2. Omission of important processes

3. Lack of knowledge of internal conditions

4. Sensitivity to initial conditions

5. Unresolved heterogeneity

6. Occurrence of external forcing

7. Inapplicability of the factor of safety concept

Over-all I was impressed by the totality of the project in this book, which provides a superb history of Earth along with superb reviews of the various sciences that must be brought to bear on climate change. This is a tremendous primer, along with the other books I link to, and I strongly recommend it for both undergraduate and graduate courses as well as the general adult reader. I actually have a note, no kidding, “This book inspires reverence.”

This is a brilliantly told story, carefully constructed. The chapter on Cosmic Rays was completely new to me and totally absorbing.

Their own proposed program:

+ Use renewable energy where possible

+ Be aggressive on hybrid transport

+ Build energy-efficient buildings

+ Overhaul national and continental power grids (they do not mention Buckminster Fuller’s global plan)

+ Work on solar both land and space-based.

+ Rapidly expand nuclear capacity while adopting safe recycling.

There is a superb discussion of error and uncertainty, including random error and the misapplication of statistics as well as incomplete data and models that are a travesty of false assumptions and relations.

I put the book down feeling somewhat righteous, as their final conclusion boils down to this: Politics is about consensus, Science is about being right rather than being believed. Governments–and the scientists and media personalities that serve as courtiers to governments, are fraudulent and not serving the public interest. Intelligence, done right, is similar to science: the truth at any cost. E Veritate Potens.

The summary is very well done and the ending was “practically poetic.”

Other books I recommend to balance this one:
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America
High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition

See all of my Reviews, and Graphics that Amazon destroyed, at the Public Intelligence Blog, Phi Beta Iota.

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