Taking the Temperature on Global Warming Books

I take a look at two new books on global warming in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. The International Herald Tribune has already posted it on their site (which has no subscription wall to boot). (Update: NYTBR link.) The books are The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery and Field Notes From a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. Both are very good (though not perfect) books, and I suspect that they may have a noticeable effect on the discourse about global warming. I will be curious (in a kind of staring-at-a-car-wreck way) to watch the reaction of the global warming denial crowd. Flannery’s book has already been out for a while in Australia, and he’s already been the subject of many a nasty newspaper column. Tim Lambert has already fact-checked them to pieces. As I make clear in the review, I think there are some significant problems in both books, particularly in Flannery’s penchant for trying to make associations sound like causations. But that doesn’t change the scientific consensus on global warming–it’s here, it’s real, it’s going to get hotter–and it doesn’t take away from the overall strengths of these books.

Update, 3.11.06, 8 am: Thanks to a couple readers for pointing out the glaring temperture conversion error in the piece. It’s not in the NYTBR version. I guess some IHT editor thought they were being helpful by turning Fahrenheit to Celsius. Unfortunately he or she didn’t understand that a change of 9 to 12 degrees does not equal a change of “minus 12 to mius 7” degrees celsius.