Sunday, December 13, 2009
What follows is a list of books and journal articles I found most useful in preparing this novel. I found the texts by Beckerman, Chase, Huber, Lomborg, and Wildavsky to be particularly revealing.
Environmental science is a contentious and intensely politicized field. No reader should assume that any author listed below agrees with the views I express in this book. Quite the contrary: many of them disagree strongly. I am presenting these references to assist those readers who would like to review my thinking and arrive at their own conclusions.
Aber, John D., and Jerry M. Melillo. Terrestrial Ecosystems. San Francisco: Har-court Academic Press, 2001. A standard textbook.
Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises (Report of the Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, National Research Council). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. The text concludes that abrupt climate change might occur sometime in the future, triggered by mechanisms not yet understood, and that in the meantime more research is needed. Surely no one could object.
Adam, Barbara, Ulrich Beck, and Jost Van Loon. The Risk Society and Beyond. London: Sage Publications, 2000.
Altheide, David L. Creating Fear, News and the Construction of Crisis. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 2002. A book about fear and its expanding place in public life. Overlong and repetitive, but addressing a highly significant subject. Some of the statistical analyses are quite amazing. I assume the lecture was drawn heavily from this
Anderson, J. B. and J. T. Andrews. “Radiocarbon Constraints on Ice Sheet Advance and Retreat in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica.” Geology 27 (1999): 179–82.
Anderson, Terry L., and Donald R. Leal. Free Market Environmentalism. New York: Palgrave (St. Martin’s Press), 2001. The authors argue government management of environmental resources has a poor track record in the former Soviet Union, and in the Western democracies as well. They make the case for the superiority of private and market-based management of environmental resources. Their case histories are particularly interesting.
Arens, William. The Man-Eating Myth. New York: Oxford, 1979.
Arquilla, John, and David Ronfeldt, eds. In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND National Defense Research Institute, 1997. See particularly part III on the advent of netwar and its implications.
Aunger, Robert, ed. Darwinizing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. See especially the last three chapters, which devastate the trendy concept of memes. There is no better example of the way that trendy quasi-scientific ideas can gain currency even in the face of preexisting evidence that they are baseless. And the text serves as a model for the expression of brisk disagreement without ad hominem characterization.
Beck, Ulrich. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Trans. Mark Ritter. London: Sage, 1992. This highly influential text by a German sociologist presents a fascinating redefinition of the modern state as protector against industrial society, instead of merely the ground upon which it is built.
Beckerman, Wilfred. A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth. Oakland, Calif.: Independent Institute, 2003. A short, witty, stinging review of sustainability, climate change, and the precautionary principle by an Oxford economist and former member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution who cares more about the poor of the world than he does the elitist egos of Western environmentalists. Clearly argued and fun to read.
Bennett, W. Lance. News: The Politics of Illusion. New York: Addison-Wesley, 2003.
Black, Edwin. War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York: Four Walls, 2003. The history of the eugenics movement in America and Germany is an unpleasant story, and perhaps for that reason, most texts present it confusingly. This book is an admirably clear narrative.
Bohm, R. “Urban bias in temperature time series—a case study for the city of Vienna, Austria.” Climatic Change 38 (1998): 113–28.
Braithwaite, Roger J. “Glacier mass balance: The first 50 years of international monitoring.” Progress in Physical Geography 26, no. 1 (2002): 76–95.
Braithwaite, R. J., and Y. Zhang. “Relationships between interannual variability of glacier mass balance and climate.” Journal of Glaciology 45 (2000): 456–62.
Briggs, Robin. Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.
Brint, Steven. “Professionals and the Knowledge Economy: Rethinking the Theory of the Postindustrial Society.” Current Sociology 49, no. 1 ( July 2001): 101–32.
Brower, Michael, and Warren Leon. The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999. Of particular interest for its advice on mundane decisions: paper vs. plastic shopping bags (plastic), cloth vs. disposable diapers (disposable). On broader issues, the analysis is extremely vague and exemplifies the difficulties of determining “sustainable development” that are pointed out by Wilfred Beckerman.
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962. I am old enough to remember reading this poetic persuasive text with alarm and excitement when it was first published; it was clear even then that it would change the world. With the passage of time Carson’s text appears more flawed and more overtly polemical. It is, to be blunt, about one-third right and two-thirds wrong. Carson is particularly to be faulted for her specious promotion of the idea that most cancer is caused by the environment. This fear remains in general circulation decades later.
Castle, Terry. “Contagious Folly.” In Chandler, Davidson, and Harootunian, Questions of Evidence.
Chandler, James, Arnold I. Davidson, and Harry Harootunian. Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice and Persuasion Across the Disciplines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Changnon, Stanley A. “Impacts of 1997–98 El Niño-Generated Weather in the United States.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 80, no. 9, (1999): 1819–28.
Chapin, F. Stuart, Pamela A. Matson, and Harold A. Mooney. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystems Ecology. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2002. Clearer and with more technical detail than most ecology texts.
Chase, Alston. In a Dark Wood: The Fight over Forests and the Myths of Nature. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001. Essential reading. This book is a history of the conflict over the forests of the Northwest, a cheerless and distressing story. As a former professor of philosophy, the author is one of the few writers in the environmental field who shows the slightest interest in ideas—where they come from, what consequences have flowed from them in the historical past, and therefore what consequences are likely to flow from them now. Chase discusses such notions as the mystic vision of wilderness and the balance of nature from the standpoint of both science and philosophy. He is contemptuous of much conventional wisdom and the mud-dle-headed attitudes he calls “California cosmology.” The book is long and sometimes rambling, but extremely rewarding.
———. Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America’s First National Park. New York: Atlantic, 1986. Essential reading. Arguably the first and clearest critique of ever-changing environmental beliefs and their practical consequences. Anyone who assumes we know how to manage wilderness areas needs to read this sobering history of the century-long mismanagement of Yellowstone, the first national park. Chase’s text has been reviled in some quarters, but to my knowledge, never seriously disputed.
Chen, L., W. Zhu, X. Zhou, and Z. Zhou, “Characteristics of the heat island effect in Shanghai and its possible mechanism.” Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 20 (2003): 991-1001.
Choi, Y., H.-S. Jung, K.-Y. Nam, and W.-T. Kwon, “Adjusting urban bias in the regional mean surface temperature series of South Korea, 1968–99.” International Journal of Climatology 23 (2003): 577–91.
Christianson, Gale E. Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming. New York: Penguin, 1999.
Chylek, P., J. E. Box, and G. Lesins. “Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet.” Climatic Change 63 (2004): 201–21.
Comiso, J. C. “Variability and Trends in Antarctic Surface Temperatures From in situ and Satellite Infrared Measurements.” Journal of Climate 13 (2000): 1674–96.
Cook, Timothy E. Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Cooke, Roger M. Experts in Uncertainty. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Davis, Ray Jay, and Lewis Grant. Weather Modification Technology and Law. AAAS Selected Symposium. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, Inc., 1978. Of historical interest only.
Deichmann, Ute. Biologist Under Hitler, tr. Thomas Dunlap. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996. Difficult in structure, disturbing in content.
Doran, P. T., J. C. Priscu, W. B. Lyons, J. E. Walsh, A. G. Fountain, D. M. McKnight, D. L. Moorhead, R. A. Virginia, D. H. Wall, G. D. Clow, C. H. Fritsen, C. P. McKay, and A. N. Parsons. “Antarctic Climate Cooling and Terrestrial Ecosystem Response.” Nature 415 (2002): 517–20.
Dörner, Dietrich. The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 1998. What prevents human beings
from successfully managing the natural environment and other complex systems? Dozens of pundits have weighed in with their unsubstantiated opinions. Dörner, a cognitive psychologist, performed experiments and found out. Using computer simulations of complex environments, he invited intellectuals to improve the situation. They often made it worse. Those who did well gathered information before acting, thought systemically, reviewed progress, and corrected their course often. Those who did badly clung to their theories, acted too quickly, did not correct course, and blamed others when things went wrong. Dörner concludes that our failures in managing complex systems do not represent any inherent lack of human capability. Rather they reflect bad habits of thought and lazy procedures.
Dowie, Mark. Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995. A former editor of Mother Jones concludes that the American environmental movement has lost relevance through compromise and capitulation. Well written, but weakly documented, the book is most interesting for the frame of mind it conveys—an uncompromising posture that rarely specifies what solutions would be satisfactory. This makes the text essentially nonscientific in its outlook and its implications, and all the more interesting for that.
Drake, Frances. Global Warming: The Science of Climate Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. This well-written overview for college students can be read by any interested reader.
Drucker, Peter. Post-Capitalist Society. New York: Harper Business, 1993. Eagleton, Terry. Ideology: An Introduction. New York: Verso, 1991. Edgerton, Robert B. Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony.
New York: Free Press, 1992. An excellent summary of the evidence disputing the notion of the noble savage that goes on to consider whether cultures adopt maladaptive beliefs and practices. The author concludes that all cultures do so. The text also attacks the currently trendy academic notion of “unconscious” problem-solving, in which primitive cultures are assumed to be acting in an ecologically sound fashion, even when they appear wasteful and destructive. Edgerton argues they aren’t doing anything of the sort—they are wasteful and destructive.
Edwards, Paul. N., and Stephen Schneider. “The 1995 IPCC Report: Broad Consensus or ‘Scientific Cleansing’?” EcoFable/Ecoscience 1, no. 1 (1997): 3–9. A spirited argument in defense of changes to the 1995 IPCC report by Ben Santer. However, the article focuses on the controversy that resulted and does not review in detail the changes to the text that were made. Thus the paper talks about the controversy without examining its substance.
Einarsson, Porleifur. Geology of Iceland. Trans. Georg Douglas. Reykjavík: Mal og menning, 1999. Surely one of the clearest geology textbooks ever written. The author is professor of geology at the University of Iceland.
Etheridge, D. M., et al. “Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn.” Journal of Geophysical Research 101 (1996): 4115–28.
Fagan, Brian. The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300–1850. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Our experience of climate is limited to the span of our lives. The degree to which climate has varied in the past, and even in historical times, is hard for anyone to conceive. This book, by an archaeologist who writes extremely well, makes clear through historical detail how much warmer—and colder—it has been during the last thousand years.
Feynman, Richard. The Character of Physical Law. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965. Feynman exemplifies the crispness of thought in physics as compared with the mushy subjectivity of fields such as ecology or climate research.
Finlayson-Pitts, Barbara J., and James N. Pitts, Jr. Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere: Theory, Experiments, and Applications. New York: Academic Press, 2000. A clear text that can be read by anyone with a good general science background.
Fisher, Andy. Radical Ecopsychology: Psychology in the Service of Life. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2002. An astonishing text by a psychotherapist. In my opinion, the greatest problem for all observers of the world is to determine whether their perceptions are genuine and verifiable or whether they are merely the projections of inner feelings. This book says it doesn’t matter. The text consists almost entirely of unsubstantiated opinions about human nature and our interaction with the natural world. Anecdotal, egotistical, and wholly tautological, it is a dazzling example of unbridled fantasy. It can stand in for a whole literature of related texts in which feeling-expression masquerades as fact.
Flecker, H., and B. C. Cotton. “Fatal bite from octopus.” Medical Journal of Australia 2 (1955): 329–31.
Forrester, Jay W. Principles of Systems. Waltham, Mass.: Wright-Allen Press, 1971. Some day Forrester will be acknowledged as one of the most important scientists of the twentieth century. He is one of the first, and surely the most influential, researcher to model complex systems on the computer. He did groundbreaking studies of everything from high-tech corporate behavior to urban renewal, and he was the first to get any inkling of how difficult it is to manage complex systems. His work was an early inspiration for the attempts to model the world that ultimately became the Club of Rome’s Limits of Growth. But the Club didn’t understand the most fundamental principles behind Forrester’s work.
Forsyth, Tim. Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science. New York: Routledge, 2003. A careful but often critical examination of environmental orthodoxy by a lecturer in environment and development at the London School of Economics. The text contains many important insights I have not seen elsewhere, including the consequences of the IPCC emphasis on computer models (as opposed to other forms of data) and the question of how many environmental effects are usefully regarded as “global.” However, the author adopts much of the postmodernist critique of science, and thus refers to certain “laws” of science, when few scientists would grant them such status.
Freeze, R. Allan. The Environmental Pendulum: A Quest for the Truth about Toxic Chemicals, Human Health, and Environmental Protection. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2000. A university professor with on-the-ground experience dealing with toxic waste sites has written a cranky and highly informative book detailing his experiences and views. One of the few books by a person who is not only academically qualified but experienced in the field. His opinions are complex and sometimes seemingly contradictory. But that’s reality.
Furedi, Frank. Culture of Fear: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectation. New York: Continuum, 2002. As Western societies become more affluent and safer, as life expectancy has steadily increased, one might expect the populations to become relaxed and secure. The opposite has happened: Western societies have become panic-stricken and hysterically risk averse. The pattern is evident in everything from environmental issues to the vastly increased supervision of children. This text by a British sociologist discusses why.
Gelbspan, Ross. The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 1998. A reporter who has written extensively on environmental matters presents the classic doomsday scenarios well. Penn and Teller characterize him in scatological terms.
Gilovitch, Thomas, Dale Griffin, and Daniel Kahneman, eds. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Psychologists have created a substantial body of experimental data on human decision making since the 1950s. It has been well replicated and makes essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how people make decisions and how they think about the decisions that others make. The entire volume is compelling (though sometimes disheartening), and articles of particular interest are listed separately.
Glassner, Barry. The Culture of Fear. New York: Basic Books, 1999. Debunks fear-mongering with precision and calmness.
Glimcher, Paul W. Decisions, Uncertainty, and the Brain. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003.
Glynn, Kevin. Tabloid Culture. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
Goldstein, William M., and Robin M. Hogarth, eds. Research on Judgment and Decision Making. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Gross, Paul R., and Norman Leavitt. Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. See chapter 6, “The Gates of Eden” for a discussion of environmentalism in the context of current postmodern academic criticism.
Guyton, Bill. Glaciers of California. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998. An elegant gem of a book.
Hadley Center. “Climate Change, Observations and Predictions, Recent Research on Climate Change Science from the Hadley Center,” December 2003. Obtainable at www.metoffice.com. In sixteen pages the Hadley Center presents the most important arguments relating to climate science and the predictions for future warming from computer models. Beautifully written, and illustrated with graphic sophistication, it easily surpasses other climate science websites and constitutes the best brief introduction for the interested reader.
Hansen, James E., Makiko Sato, Andrew Lacis, Reto Ruedy, Ina Tegen, and Elaine Matthews. “Climate Forcings in the Industrial Era.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95 (October 1998): 12753–58.
Hansen, James E. and Makiko Sato, “Trends of Measured Climate Forcing Agents.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (December 2001): 14778–83.
Hayes, Wayland Jackson. “Pesticides and Human Toxicity.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 160 (1969): 40–54.
Henderson-Sellers, et al. “Tropical cyclones and global climate change: A post-IPCC assessment.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79 (1997): 9–38.
Hoffert, Martin, Ken Caldeira, Gregory Benford, David R. Criswell, Christopher Green, Howard Herzog, Atul K. Jain, Haroon S. Kheshgi, Klaus S. Lackner, John S. Lewis, H. Douglas Lightfoot, Wallace Manheimer, John C. Mankins, Michael E. Mauel, L. John Perkins, Michael E. Schlesinger, Tyler Volk, and Tom M. L. Wigley. “Advanced Technology Paths to Global Climate Stability: Energy for a Greenhouse Planet.” Science 298 (1 November 2001): 981–87.
Horowitz, Daniel. The Anxieties of Affluence. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004.
Houghton, John. Global Warming, the Complete Briefing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Sir John is a leading figure in the IPCC and a world-renowned spokesperson for climate change. He presents a clear statement of the predictions of the global circulation models for future climate. He draws principally from IPCC reports, which this text summarizes and explains. Skip the first chapter, which is scattered and vague, unlike the rest of the book.
Huber, Peter, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, a Conservative Manifesto. New York: Basic Books, 1999. I read dozens of books on the environment, most quite similar in tone and content. This was the first one that made me sit up and pay serious attention. It’s not like the others, to put it mildly. Huber holds an engineering degree from MIT and a law degree from Harvard; he has clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor; he is a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. His book criticizes modern environmental thought in both its underlying attitudes and its scientific claims. The text is quick, funny, informed, and relentless. It can be difficult to follow and demands an informed reader. But anyone who clings to the environmental views that evolved in the 1980s and 1990s must answer the arguments of this book.
Inadvertent Climate Modification, Report of the Study of Man’s Impact on Climate (SMIC). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1971. A fascinating early attempt to model climate and predict human interaction with it.
IPCC. Aviation and the Global Atmosphere. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
———. Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
———. Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
———. Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change Scientific/Technical Analysis. Contribution of Working Group II to the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
———. Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
———. Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
———. Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
———. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
———. Climate Change: The IPCC Response Strategies. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1991.
———. Emissions Scenarios. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
———. Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
———. The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Jacob, Daniel J. Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999.
Joravsky, David. The Lysenko Affair. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. A readable account of this depressing episode.
Joughin, I., and S. Tulaczyk. “Positive Mass Balance of the Ross Ice Streams, West Antarctica.” Science 295 (2002): 476–80.
Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky, eds. Choices, Values and Frames. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. The authors are responsible for a revolution in our understanding of the psychology behind human decision-making. The history of the environmental movement is characterized by some very positive decisions made on the basis of inadequate information, and some unfortunate decisions made despite good information that argued against the decision. This book sheds light on how such things happen.
Kalnay, Eugenia, and Ming Cai. “Impact of Urbanization and Land-Use on Climate.” Nature 423 (29 May 2003): 528–31. “Our estimate of .27 C mean surface warming per century due to land use changes is at least twice as high as previous estimates based on urbanization alone.” The authors later report a calculation error, raising their estimate [Nature 23 (4 September 2003): 102]. “The corrected estimate of the trend in daily mean temperture due to land use changes is .35 C per century.”
Kaser, Georg, Douglas R. Hardy, Thomas Molg, Raymond S. Bradley, and Tharsis M. Hyera. “Modern Glacier Retreat on Kilimanjaro as Evidence of Climate Change: Observations and Facts.” International Journal of Climatology 24 (2004): 329–39.
Kieffer, H., J. S. Kargel, R. Barry, R. Bindschadler, M. Bishop, D. MacKinnon,
A. Ohmura, B. Raup, M. Antoninetti, J. Bamber, M. Braun, I. Brown, D. Cohen, L. Copland, J. DueHagen, R. V. Engeset, B. Fitzharris, K. Fujita,
W. Haeberli, J. O. Hagen, D. Hall, M. Hoelzle, M. Johansson, A. Kaab,
M. Koenig, V. Konovalov, M. Maisch, F. Paul, F. Rau, N. Reeh, E. Rignot,
A. Rivera, M. Ruyter de Wildt, T. Scambos, J. Schaper, G. Scharfen,
J. Shroder, O. Solomina, D. Thompson, K. Van der Veen, T. Wohlleben, and N. Young. “New eyes in the sky measure glaciers and ice sheets.” EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 81, no. 265 (2000): 270–71.
Kline, Wendy. Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2001.
Koshland, Daniel J. “Credibility in Science and the Press.” Science 254 (1 Nov. 1991): 629. Bad science reporting takes its toll; the former head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science complains about it.
Kraus, Nancy, Trorbjorn Malmfors, and Paul Slovic. “Intuitive Toxicology: Expert and Lay Judgments of Chemical Risks.” In Slovic, 2000. The extent to which uninformed opinion should be given a place in decision making is highlighted by the question of whether ordinary people have an intuitive sense of what in their environment is harmful—whether they are, in the words of these authors, intuitive toxicologists. As I read the data, they aren’t.
Krech, Shepard. The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. New York: Norton, 1999. An anthropologist carefully reviews the data indicating that native Americans were not the exemplary ecologists of yore. Also reviews recent changes in ecological science.
Kuhl, Stevan. The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Kuran, Timur. Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Landsea, C., N. Nicholls, W. Gray, and L. Avila. “Downward Trend in the Frequency of Intense Atlantic Hurricanes During the Past Five Decades.” Geophysical Research Letters 23 (1996): 527–30.
Landsea, Christopher W., and John A. Knaff. “How Much Skill Was There in Forecasting the Very Strong 1997–98 El Niño?” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 81, no. 9 (September 2000): 2017–19. Authors found the older, simpler models performed best. “The use of more complex, physically realistic dynamical models does not automatically provide more reliable forecasts.. . . [Our findings] may be surprising given the general perception that seasonal El Niño forecasts from dynamical models have been quite successful and may even be considered a solved problem.” They discuss in detail that the models did not, in fact, predict well. Yet “others are using the supposed success in dynamical El Niño forecasting to support other agendas . . . one could even have less confidence in anthropogenic global studies because of the lack of skill in predicting El Niño.. . . Thebottom line is that the successes in forecasting have been overstated (sometimes drastically) and misapplied in other areas.”
Lave, Lester B. “Benefit-Cost Analysis: Do the Benefits Exceed the Costs?” In Robert W. Hahn, ed., Risks, Costs, and Lives Saved: Getting Better Results from Regulation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. A critical review of problems in cost-benefit analysis by an economist who supports the tool but acknowledges that opponents sometimes have a point.
Lean, Judith, and David Rind. “Climate Forcing by Changing Solar Radiation.” Journal of Climate 11 (December 1988): 3069–94. How much does the sun affect climate? These authors suggest about half the observed surface warming since 1900 and one-third of the warming since 1970 may be attributed to the sun. But there are uncertainties here. “Present inability to adequately specify climate forcing by changing solar radiation has implications for policy making regarding anthropogenic global change, which must be detected against natural climate variability.”
LeBlanc, Steven A., and Katherine E. Register. Constant Battles. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003. The myth of the noble savage and the Edenic past dies hard. LeBlanc is one of the handful of archaeologists who have given close scrutiny to evidence for past warfare and has worked to revise an academic inclination to see a peaceful past. LeBlanc argues that primitive societies fought constantly and brutally.
Levack, Brian P. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. Second Edition. London: Longman, 1995. In the sixteenth century, the educated elites of Europe believed that certain human beings had made contracts with the devil. They believed that witches gathered to perform horrific rites, and that they flew across the sky in the night. On the basis of these beliefs, these elites tortured countless people, and killed 50,000 to 60,000 of their countrymen, mostly old women. However, they also killed men and children, and sometimes (because it was thought unseemly to burn a child) they imprisoned the children until he or she was old enough to be executed. Most of the extensive literature on witchcraft (including the present volume) does not in my view fully come to grips with the truth of this period. The fact that so many people were executed for a fantasy—and despite the reservations of prominent skeptics— carries a lesson that we must always bear in mind. The consensus of the intelligentsia is not necessarily correct, no matter how many believe it, or for how many years the belief is held. It may still be wrong. In fact, it may be very wrong. And we must never forget it. Because it will happen again. And indeed it has.
Lilla, Mark. The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics. New York: New York Review of Books, 2001. This razor-sharp text focuses on twentieth-century philosophers but serves as a reminder of the intellectual’s temptation “to succumb to the allure of an idea, to allow passion to blind us to its tyrannical potential.”
Lindzen, Richard S. “Do Deep Ocean Temperature Records Verify Models?” Geophysical Research Letters 29, no. 0 (2002): 10.1029/2001GL014360. Changes in ocean temperature cannot be taken as a verification of GCMs, computer climate models.
———. “The Press Gets It Wrong: Our Report Doesn’t Support the Kyoto Treaty.” Wall Street Journal, 11 June 2001. This brief essay by a distinguished MIT professor summarizes one example of the way the media misinterprets scientific reports on climate. In this case, the National Academy of Sciences report on climate change, widely claimed to say what it did not. Lindzen was one of eleven authors of the report. http://opinionjournal. com/editorial/feature.html?id=95000606
Lindzen, R. S., and K. Emanuel. “The Greenhouse Effect.” In Encyclopedia of Global Change, Environmental Change and Human Society. Volume 1. Andrew
S. Goudie, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 562–66. What exactly is the greenhouse effect everybody talks about but nobody ever explains in any detail? A brief, clear summary.
Liu, J., J. A. Curry, and D. G. Martinson. “Interpretation of Recent Antarcti
c Sea Ice Variability.” Geophysical Research Letters 31 (2004): 10.1029/2003 GL018732.
Lomborg, Bjorn. The Skeptical Environmentalist. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. By now, many people know the story behind this text: The author, a Danish statistician and Greenpeace activist, set out to disprove the views of the late Julian Simon, an economist who claimed that dire environmental fears were wrong and that the world was actually improving. To Lomborg’s surprise, he found that Simon was mostly right. Lomborg’s text is crisp, calm, clean, devastating to established dogma. Since publication, the author has been subjected to relentless ad hominem attacks, which can only mean his conclusions are unobjectionable in any serious scientific way. Throughout the long controversy, Lomborg has behaved in exemplary fashion. Sadly, his critics have not. Special mention must go to the Scientific American, which was particularly reprehensible. All in all, the treatment accorded Lomborg can be viewed as a confirmation of the postmodern critique of science as just another power struggle. A sad episode for science.
Lovins, Amory B. Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Perhaps the most important advocate for alternative energy wrote this anti-nuclear energy text in the 1970s for Friends of the Earth, elaborating on an influential essay he wrote for Foreign Affairs the year before. The resulting text can be seen as a major link in the chain of events and thinking that set the US on a different energy path from the nations of Europe. Lovins is trained as a physicist and is a MacArthur Fellow.
McKendry, Ian G. “Applied Climatology.” Progress in Physical Geography 27, no. 4 (2003): 597–606. “Recent studies suggest that attempts to remove the ‘urban bias’ from long-term climate records (and hence identify the magnitude of the enhanced greenhouse effect) may be overly simplistic. This will likely continue to be a contentious issue.. . .”
Manes, Christopher. Green Rage: Radical Environmentalism and the Unmaking of Civilization. Boston: Little Brown, 1990. Not to be missed.
Man’s Impact on the Global Environment, Assessments and Recommendations for Action, Report of the Study of Critical Environmental Problems (SCEP). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1970. The text predicts carbon dioxide levels of 370 ppm in the year 2000 and a surface-temperature increase of .5 C as a result. The actual figures were 360 ppm and .3 C—far more accurate than predictions made fifteen years later, using lots more computer power.
Marlar, Richard A., et al. “Biochemical evidence of cannibalism at a prehistoric Puebloan site in southwestern Colorado. Nature 407, 74078, 7 Sept. 2000.
Martin, Paul S. “Prehistoric Overkill: The Global Model.” In Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. Paul S. Martin and Richard G. Klein, eds. Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 1984, 354–403.
Mason, Betsy. “African Ice Under Wraps.” Nature online publication, 24 November 2003.
Matthews, Robert A. J. “Facts versus factions: The use and abuse of subjectivity in scientific research.” In Morris, Rethinking Risk, pp. 247–82. A physicist argues “the failure of the scientific community to take decisive action over the flaws in standard statistical methods, and the resulting waste of resources spent on futile attempts to replicate claims based on them, constitute a major scientific scandal.” The book also contains an impressive list of major scientific developments held back by the subjective prejudice of scientists. So much for the reliability of the “consensus” of scientists.
Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: New American Library, 1972. It is a shame this book is out of print, because it was hugely influential in its day, and it set the tone (“the predicament of mankind”) for much that followed. To read it now is to be astonished at how primitive were the techniques for assessing the state of the world, and how incautious the predictions of future trends. Many of the graphs have no axes, and are therefore just pictures of technical-looking curves. In retrospect, the text is notable not so much for its errors of prediction as for its consistent tone of urgent overstatement bordering on hysteria. The conclusion: “Concerted international measures and joint long-term planning will be necessary on a scale and scope without precedent. Such an effort calls for joint endeavor by all peoples, whatever their culture, economic system, or level of development. . . . This supremeeffort is . . . founded on a basic change of values and goals at individual, national and world levels.” And so forth.
Medvedev, Zhores A. The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969. Extremely difficult to read.
Michaels, Patrick J., and Robert C. Balling, Jr. The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming. Washington, DC: Cato, 2000. These skeptical authors have a sense of humor and a clear style. Use of graphs is unusually good. The Cato Institute is a pro–free market organization with libertarian overtones.
Morris, Julian, ed. Rethinking Risk and the Precautionary Principle. Oxford, UK: Butterworth/Heinemann, 2000. A broad-ranging critique that discusses, for example, how precautionary thinking has harmed children’s development.
Nye, David E. Consuming Power, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998. America consumes more power per capita than any other country, and Nye is the most knowledgeable scholar about the history of American technology. He draws markedly different conclusions from those less informed. This text is scathing about determinist views of technology. It has clear implications for the validity of IPCC “scenarios.”
Oleary, Rosemary, Robert F. Durant, Daniel J. Fiorino, and Paul S. Weiland.
Managing for the Environment: Understanding the Legal, Organizational, and Policy Challenges. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1999. A much-needed compendium that sometimes covers too much in too little detail.
Ordover, Nancy. American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Fascinating in content, confusing in structure, difficult to read, but uncompromising. The author insists on the culpability of both the left and right in the eugenics movement, both in the past and in the present day.
Pagels, Heinz R. The Dreams of Reason: Computers and the Rise of the Sciences of Complexity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. The study of complexity represents a true revolution in science, albeit a rather old revolution. This delightful book is sixteen years old, written when the revolution was exciting and new. One would think sixteen years would be enough time for the understanding of complexity and nonlinear dynamics to revise the thinking of environmental activists. But evidently not.
Park, Robert. Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. The author is a professor of physics and a director of the American Physical Society. His book is especially good on the “Currents of Death” EMF/powerline/cancer controversy, in which he was involved (as a skeptic).
Parkinson, C. L. “Trends in the Length of the Southern Ocean Sea-Ice Season, 1979–99.” Annals of Glaciology 34 (2002): 435–40.
Parsons, Michael L. Global Warming: The Truth Behind the Myth, New York: Plenum, 1995. A skeptical review of data by a professor of health sciences (and therefore not a climate scientist). Outsider’s analysis of data.
Pearce, Fred, “Africans go back to the land as plants reclaim the desert.” New Scientist 175 (21 September 2002): 4–5.
Penn and Teller. Bullshit! Showtime series. Brisk, amusing attacks on conventional wisdom and sacred cows. The episode in which a young woman signs up environmentalists to ban “dihydrogen monoxide” (better known as water) is especially funny. “Dihydrogen monoxide,” she explains, “is found in lakes and rivers, it remains on fruits and vegetables after they’re washed, it makes you sweat . . .” And the people sign up. Another episode on recycling is the clearest brief explanation of what is right and wrong about this practice.
Pepper, David. Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 1996. A detailed account of the multiple strands of environmental philosophy by a sympathetic observer. Along with the quite different work of Douglas and Wildavsky, this book considers why mutually incompatible views of nature are held by different groups, and why compromise among them is so unlikely. It also makes clear the extent to which environmental views encompass beliefs about how human society should be structured. The author is a professor of geography and writes well.
Petit, J. R., J. Jouzel, D. Raynaud, N. I. Barkov, J.-M. Barnola, I. Basile, M. Bender, J. Chappellaz, M. Davis, G. Delaygue, M. Delmotte, V. M. Kotlyakov,
M. Legrand, V. Y. Lipenkov, C. Lorius, L. Pepin, C. Ritz, E. Saltzman, and
M. Stievenard. “1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica.” Nature 399: 429–36.
Pielou, E. C. After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. A wonderful book, a model of its kind. Explains how life returned as the glaciers receded twenty thousand years ago, and how scientists analyze the data to arrive at their conclusions. Along the way, an excellent reminder of how dramatically our planet has changed in the geologically recent past.
Ponte, Lowell. The Cooling. Englewood, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972. The most highly praised of the books from the 1970s that warned of an impending ice age. (The cover asks: “Has the next ice age already begun? Can we survive it?”) Contains a chapter on how we might modify the global climate to prevent excessive cooling. A typical quote: “We simply cannot afford to gamble against this possibility by ignoring it. We cannot risk inaction. Those scientists who say we are entering a period of climatic instability [i.e., unpredictability] are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored” (p. 237).
Pritchard, James A. Preserving Yellowstone’s Natural Conditions: Science and the Perception of Nature. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. Balance of evidence that elk have changed habitat. Also the nonequilibrium paradigm.
Pronin, Emily, Carolyn Puccio, and Lee Rosh. “Understanding Misunderstanding: Social Psychological Perspectives.” In Gilovitch, et al., pp. 636–65. A cool assessment of human disagreement.
Rasool, S. I., and S. H. Schneider. “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate.” Science (11 July 1971): 138–41. An example of the research in the 1970s that suggested that human influence on climate was leading to cooling, not warming. The authors state that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not raise temperature as much as increasing aerosols will reduce it. “An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 K . . . believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.”
Raub, W. D., A. Post, C. S. Brown, and M. F. Meier. “Perennial ice masses of the Sierra Nevada, California.” Proceedings of the International Assoc. of Hydrological Science, no. 126 (1980): 33–34. Cited in Guyton, 1998.
Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Federal Judicial Center. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1994. After years of abuse, the Federal Courts in the US established detailed guidelines for the admissibility of various kinds of scientific testimony and scientific evidence. This volume runs 634 pages.
Reiter, Paul, Christopher J. Tomas, Peter M. Atkinson, Simon I. Hay, Sarah E. Randolph, David J. Rogers, G. Dennis Shanks, Robert W. Snow, and Andrew Spielman. “Global Warming and Malaria: A Call for Accuracy.” Lancet 4, no. 1 ( June 2004).
Rice, Glen E., and Steven A. LeBlanc, eds. Deadly Landscape. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2001. More evidence for a strife-filled human past.
Roberts, Leslie R. “Counting on Science at EPA.” Science 249 (10 August 1990): 616–18. An important brief report on how the EPA ranks risks. Essentially
it does what the public wants, not what the EPA experts advise. This is sometimes but not always a bad thing.
Roszak, Theodore. The Voice of the Earth. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. Roszak is often at the leading edge of emerging social movements, and here he gives an early insight into a blend of ecology and psychology that has since become widespread, even though it is essentially pure feeling without objective foundation. Nevertheless, ecopsychology has become a guiding light in the minds of many people, particularly those without scientific training. My own view is that the movement projects the dissatisfactions of contemporary society onto a natural world that is so seldom experienced that it serves as a perfect projection screen. One must also recall the blunt view of Richard Feynman: “We have learned from much experience that all philosophical intuitions about what nature is going to do fail.”
Russell, Jeffrey B. A History of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1980. Lest we forget.
Salzman, Jason. Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Non-Profits. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 2003.
Santer, B. D., K. E. Taylor, T. M. L. Wigley, T. C. Johns, P. D. Jones, D. J. Karoly, J. F. B. Mitchell, A. H. Oort, J. E. Penner, V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, R. J. Stouffer, and S. Tett. “A Search for Human Influences on the Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere.” Nature 382 (4 July 1996): 39–46. “It is likely that [temperature change in the free atmosphere] is partially due to human activities, though many uncertainties remain, particularly relating to estimates of natural variability.” One year after the 1995 IPCC statement that a human effect on climate had been discerned, this article by several IPCC scientists shows considerably more caution about such a claim.
Schullery, Paul. Searching for Yellowstone: Ecology and Wonder in the Last Wilderness. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. The author was for many years an employee of the Forest Service and takes a more benign approach to events at Yellowstone than others do.
Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998. An extraordinary and original book that reminds us how seldom academic thought is genuinely fresh.
Shrader-Frechette, K. S. Risk and Rationality: Philosophical Foundations for Populist Reforms. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1991.
Singer, S. Fred. Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate. Oakland, Calif.: Independent Institute, 1998. Singer is among the most visible of global warming skeptics. A retired professor of environmental science who
has held a number of government posts, including Director of Weather Satellite Service and Director for the Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences, he is a far more qualified advocate for his views than his critics admit. They usually attempt to portray him as a sort of eccentric nutcase. This book is only seventy-two pages long, and the reader may judge for himself.
Slovic, Paul, ed. The Perception of Risk. London: Earthscan, 2000. Slovic has been influential in emphasizing that the concept of “risk” entails not only expert opinion but also the feelings and fears of the population at large. In a democracy, such popular opinions must be addressed in policy making. I take a tougher stance. I believe ignorance is best addressed by education, not by unneeded or wasteful regulation. Unfortunately, the evidence is that we spend far too much soothing false or minor fears.
Stott, Philip, and Sian Sullivan, eds. Political Ecology: Science, Myth and Power. London: Arnold, 2000. Focused on Africa. Stott is now retired, witty, and runs an amusing skeptical blog.
Streutker, D. R. “Satellite-measured growth of the urban heat island of Houston, Texas.” Remote Sensing of Environment 85 (2003): 282–89. “Between 1987 and 1999, the mean nighttime surface temperature heat island of Houston increased 0.82 ± 0.10 °C.”
Sunstein, Cass R. Risk and Reason: Safety, Law, and the Environment. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. A law professor examines major environmental issues from the standpoint of cost-benefit analysis and concludes that new mechanisms for assessing regulations are needed if we are to break free of the current pattern of “hysteria and neglect”—in which we aggressively regulate minor risks while ignoring more significant ones. The detailed chapter on arsenic levels is particularly revealing for anyone wishing to understand the difficulties that rational regulation faces in a highly politicized world.
Sutherland, S. K., and W. R. Lane. “Toxins and mode of envenomation of the common ringed or blue-banded octopus.” Medical Journal Australia 1 (1969): 893–98.
Tengs, Tammo O., Miriam E. Adams, Joseph S. Plitskin, Dana Gelb Safran, Joanna E. Siegel, Milton C. Weinstein, and John D. Graham. “Five hundred life-saving interventions and their cost effectiveness.” Risk Analysis 15, no. 3 (1995): 369–90. The Harvard School of Public Health is dismissed in some quarters as a right-wing institution. But this influential and disturbing study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis of the costs of regulation has not been disputed. It implies that a great deal of regulatory effort is wasted, and wasteful.
Thomas, Keith. Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500–1800. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. Are environmental attitudes a matter of fashion? Thomas’s delightful book charts changing perceptions of nature from a locus of danger, to a subject of worshipful appreciation, and finally to the beloved wilderness of elite aesthetes.
Thompson, D. W. J., and S. Solomon. “Interpretation of Recent Southern Hemisphere Climate Change.” Science 296 (2002): 895–99.
Tommasi, Mariano, and Kathryn Lerulli, eds. The New Economics of Human Behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
US Congress. Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Weather Control. United States Congress. Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific, 2003.
Victor, David G. “Climate of Doubt: The imminent collapse of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming may be a blessing in disguise. The treaty’s architecture is fatally flawed.” The Sciences (Spring 2001): 18–23. Victor is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an advocate of carbon emission controls who argues that “prudence demands action to check the rise in greenhouse gases, but the Kyoto Protocol is a road to nowhere.”
Viscusi, Kip. Fatal Tradeoffs: Public and Private Responsibilities for Risk. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Start at section III.
———. Rational Risk Policy. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998. The author is a professor of law and economics at Harvard.
Vyas, N. K., M. K. Dash, S. M. Bhandari, N. Khare, A. Mitra, and P. C. Pandey. “On the Secular Trends in Sea Ice Extent over the Antarctic Region Based on OCEANSAT-1 MSMR Observations.” International Journal of Remote Sensing 24 (2003): 2277–87.
Wallack, Lawrence, Katie Woodruff, Lori Dorfman, and Iris Diaz. News for a Change: An Advocate’s Guide to Working with the Media. London: Sage Publications, 1999.
Weart, Spencer R. The Discovery of Global Warming. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003.
West, Darrell M. The Rise and Fall of the Media Establishment. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2001.
White, Geoffrey M. Identity Through History: Living Stories in a Solomon Islands Society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Wigley, Tom. “Global Warming Protocol: CO2, CH4 and climate implications.” Geophysical Research Letters 25, no. 13 (1 July 1998): 2285–88.
Wildavsky, Aaron. But Is It True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. A professor of political science and public policy at Berkeley turned his students loose to research both the history and the scientific status of major environmental issues: DDT, Alar, Love Canal, asbestos, the ozone hole, global warming, acid rain. The book is an excellent resource for a more complete discussion of these issues than is usually provided. For example, the author devotes twenty-five pages to the history of the DDT ban, twenty pages to Alar, and so on. Wildavsky concludes that nearly all environmental claims have been either untrue or wildly overstated.
———. Searching for Safety. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1988. If we want a safe society and a safe life, how should we go about getting it? A good-humored exploration of strategies for safety in industrial society. Drawing on data from a wide range of disciplines, Wildavsky argues that resilience is a better strategy than anticipation, and that anticipatory strategies (such as the precautionary principle) favor the social elite over the mass of poorer people.
Winsor, P. “Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Remained Constant During the 1990s.” Geophysical Research Letters 28, no. 6 (March 2001): 1039–41.
Many, many times. You know it well. Every marketing guru has spoken about this topic. I’m sick of hearing it. But it STILL bears repeating.