Sep 26, 2009

An Appeal to Reason

An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming
by Nigel Lawson (2008, Overlook Duckworth publishers)

A concise, 100-page overview of the good reasons to be skeptical of the hype associated with global warming. The world might be a more sensible and informed place if journalists, politicians, and educators spent a few hours with this slim volume.

Adding this work to student reading lists would be a quick, inexpensive (US retail price: $20) way of ensuring that young people hear more than one perspective. (Isn't that what education is supposed to be about - an exploration of a range of ideas, the expansion of young minds beyond the confines of conventional wisdom?)

Below is a quick-and-dirty list of some great lines/quotes. Page numbers refer to the US/Canadian hardcover edition:
  • "the only practical effect of the Kyoto process has been to create what is fast becoming one of the biggest scams on the planet" p. 77
  • "doing nothing is better than doing something stupid" p.95
  • "to describe the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as pollution is as absurd as it would be to describe the clouds as pollution" p. 11
  • "It is time to take a cool look at global warming." p. 1
  • "I am not a scientist. But then neither are the vast majority of those who pronounce on the matter with far greater certainty than I shall do here." p. 1
  • "science is only part of the story. Even if the climate scientists can tell us what is happening and why, they cannot tell us what governments should be doing about it." p. 2
  • "scientific truth is not established by counting heads" p. 5
  • "While peer review may be a useful process, all it means is that the author's peers consider that the paper which advances the hypothesis is worthy of publication in the journal to which it has been submitted." p. 6
  • "It is not immediately apparent what real-world evidence could shake the faith of the true believers and overturn the conventional global warming wisdom" p. 6
  • "in a number of important aspects, the IPCC's processes have become seriously flawed" p. 12
  • "There is something inherently absurd about the conceit that we can have any useful idea of what the world will be like in a hundred years time" p 23
  • "you start with the uncertainties of long-range weather forecasting, add to these the uncertainties of long-range economic forecasting, plus the uncertainties of long-range population forecasting, feed them all into a powerful computer and supposedly arrive at a sound basis for serious...long term policy decisions" p. 24
  • "is it really plausible that there is an ideal average world temperature, which by some happy chance has recently been visited on us, from which small departures in either direction would spell disaster?" p. 27
  • "The IPCC Report claims to take into account both costs and benefits, yet it devotes large amounts of space to the costs and almost none to the benefits. It is difficult not to sense a lack of even-handedness, leading to a bias in the overall assessment."
  • "natural disasters such as hurricanes, monsoons, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, and even pandemics (the vogue word for what used to be known as plagues), have always occurred, and no doubt always will; to attribute them to global warming is not science but political propaganda." p. 37
  • "I suspect there are few people...who regard the huge improvement in living standards, including a substantial reduction in infant mortality and a substantial rise in life expectancy, that cheap, carbon-based energy has made possible, as an unwelcome turn of events." p. 45
  • "The idea that anything sensible can said about the likely state of the world thousands of years ahead, still less that we can make rational policy decisions on that basis, is mind-boggling." p. 52
  • "stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations is not the same as stabilizing the global temperature" p. 65
  • "Feelgood measures in the western world, from driving a hybrid car to the abolition of plastic bags, to not leaving our television sets on standby, are trivial to the point of irrelevance in this context" pp. 65-66
  • "there still remains the political problem of the widespread public hostility to nuclear power, which is as often as not fomented by those who profess the greatest concern about man-made global warming" p. 70
  • "The African peasant, desperately seeking to replace his renewable [animal] dung with an electricity supply, may not be amused to be told that, is produced by a carbon-fired power station, the electricity generated is dirty...and should be discouraged." p. 71
  • "We care about the welfare of our children and grandchildren, but we do not normally lose sleep over the welfare of our grandchildren's putative grandchildren, nor make financial provision for them." p. 85
  • "Without risk-taking there is no human take policy decisions on the basis...of the worst possible case, is not rational precaution, but irrational alarmism." p. 88
  • "Reliable prediction is impossible." p. 91
  • "the issues surrounding global warming are so often discussed in terms of belief rather than reason" p. 101
  • "Throughout the ages, something deep in man's psyche has made him receptive to apocalyptic warnings: 'the end of the world is nigh'. And almost all of us are imbued with a sense of guilt and a sense of sin." p. 102
  • "We appear to have entered a new age of unreason...It is from this, above all, that we really do need to save the planet." p. 106