It takes some guts to publish a book titled, "Climate Change: the Facts." Climate change is a subject of great dispute, meaning making a list of facts regarding it would be incredibly difficult. Plus, you're just begging for jokes about wanting to "change the facts."
Unfortunately, having the guts to do do something doesn't mean you have the skills to do it. The publishers of this book definitely did not. Even the simplest review of this book shows it doesn't come close to accurately describing the facts surrounding the climate change debate. I pointed this out about a week ago when I saw the book recommended to people. A user disagreed with me, and despite an fruitless discussion, he offered to give me a free copy of the book. I agreed to read it if he did, and I received a copy of the book a few days ago.
My view of the book hasn't really changed. If anything, I'd say the book is worse than I thought. It is a fairly well-polished book, unlike the last one I reviewed. I noticed a few mistakes editors should have caught, but by far and large, the book's problems are just ones of content. As such, my review is going to focus on that content.
Before I do though, I want to point out a peculiarity regarding this book. This book was published in 2014, but in 2010, another book with the exact same name was published by some of the same people with a similar cover image but very different contents. It's quite unusual.
Anyway, let's get to the "facts." The second page of Chapter One of the book states, as a fact, CO2 is good for life on Earth:
As all farmers know, CO2 is plant food and the emission of increasingly large amounts of CO2 by humans is good for life.
This is supposedly in reference to CO2 causing a "greening" of the planet, but the phrasing clearly goes beyond that. I don't know if it's a rhetorical trick or just bad writing, but either way, it's should make one cautious. Such caution would be proven wise as the very next page says:
The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect.
After denying carbon dioxide will lead to "ever increasing global warming." The chapter then goes on to hit every talking point to claim global warming won't happen. This is a common theme in many chapters, perhaps best shown in Chapter Five which says an:
analysis revealed worldwide errors in the range of 1-5C for individual sampled area-boxes, i.e. errors that far exceed the total claimed twentieth century warming of -0.7C.
Though global average temperature may have warmed during the twentieth century, no direct instrumental records exist that demonstrate any such warming within an acceptable degree of probability.
Meaning this book claiming to show the "facts" of climate change denies we can even know global warming has happened. Not only is that absurd on its face, the book's argument is obviously wrong given any examination of it. The book compares the large uncertainty in "individual sampled area-boxes" to the amount of global warming. Checking their references shows the area-boxes in question are 1°x 1° boxes. There are 360 longitude degrees and 180 latitude degrees. That means there are 180 x 360 = 64,800 of these area-boxes.
This book uses the uncertainty we have if we look at less than .2% of the globe to claim we can't know global warming has happened. That's the entirety of its argument on the issue. That, combined with the hand-wavey talking points it useds to claim global warming won't happen in the future leads it to conclude:
The reality is that no scientist on the planet can tell you with credible probability whether the climate in 2030 will be cooler or warmer than today.
Cooling! This book about the "facts" of climate change seriously suggests cooling over the next 15 years is a serious possibility!
There's a lot more wrong with these first five chapters. I could write an entire essay about how Richard Lindzen's Chapter Three is based entirely upon cherry-picking and bad analyses, but for the sake of time, I'll just quote this random remark from it:
Moreover, mild warming is likely to be a net benefit.
Poor grammar aside, this sentence is absurd because it has nothing to do with anything else said in the chapter. There is no analysis or evidence offered to support it. It's just a random sentence thrown in there, as though it's some given fact everyone should just accept as true. That's the sort of writing this book has. An even better example of this sort of bold and baseless assertion is found in Chapter Two where Patrick Michaels makes the idiotic claim:
In the United States, 63 Democratic Party seats were lost in the House of Representatives in the 2010 election. Almost every close race was lost by a member who voted for cap-and-trade. In the Senate, which did not pass or even bring up similar legislation, every close race went to the Democratic candidate. Given that both Houses had voted for the President's unpopular health care nationalisation, the blame for the loss in the House of Representatives lies squarely with cap-and-trade.
Nobody who knows anything about politics in the United States would ever believe such a stupid claim (even if Michaels hadn't gotten the facts of the election wrong). Heck, even people who know nothing about politics in the United States could probably guess he's way off-base since this is basically nothing more than a figment of Michaels' wild imagination, stated as fact in a book titled, Climate Change: the Facts.
Perhaps the worst part of all this is the people writing these chapters are obviously just doing it to promote their personal views. Nobody did research or studying for this book. All that happened is a bunch of people wrote essays about matters they were interested in, and the essays were all collected together. This is well-demonstrated by Chapter Four which is by William Soon and could be summarized as:
My work is good and proves everybody wrong, but nobody listens to me.
I get why this sort of approach might be used to create a book, but the result in this case is a huge lack of critical review or coherence in the book. Because of that, Soon was able to say this in his chapter:
Contrary to reports of a '97 per cent consensus', the 2014 paper by Legates et al. demonstrated that only 0.5 per cent of the abstracts of 11,944 scientific papers on climate-related topics publicshed over the 21 years from 1991-2011 had explicitly stated an opinion that more than half of the global warming since 1950 had been caused by human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.34 The overwhelming majority of scientists in climate and related fields, therefore, remain commendably open to the possibility that some other influence--such as the sun--may be the true primum mobile of the Earth's climate.
Anybody who's followed my blogging knows I am a huge critic the (in)famous Cook et al paper claiming to find a 97% consensus on global warming. I've flat-out accused the authors of the paper of lying about their results. I've shown the authors have intentionally misrepresented their results again and again.
Despite that, I will still say Willaim Soon's claims here are utterly wrong. It could never survive any sort of critical analysis. His argument is only ~60 of 11,944 abstracts explicitly stated humans have caused most of the observed warming, therefore 99.5% of scientists don't think humans have. That's absurd. We obviously cannot possibly tell scientists don't believe something because they didn't say it in the summary of a paper.
Even worse, those 11,944 papers weren't all "climate-related" as Soon claims. One of the most common criticisms of the Cook et al. paper is they included many papers which had nothing to do with global warming in their "consensus," a "consensus" which first filtered out ~8,000 of the 11,944 papers in the data set. Soon apparently wants us to ignore this central problem with Cook et al's work... because it lets him promote his own work.
There is a lot more to be said about this book. I've only discussed the first five chapters, and I haven't even tried to touch on all the problems in those chapters. It'd take a lot more space to cover everything wrong with this book. Just discussing the remaining 16 chapters would take quite a bit of effort.
I might go ahead and review the rest of the chapters. In case I don't, I should point out things do get better after these first five chapters. There are actually some chapters which don't suck. Some of them might even be okay if taken on their own.
But anyone whose work is included in this book should be embarrassed by how bad a book it is.