The Satanic Gasses: Clearing the Air about Global Warming
By Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling
Cato Institute
224 pgs. US$10.95

A contrarian view of climate change

Reviewed by Steven Martinovich
web posted March 12, 2001

The Satanic Gasses: Clearing the Air about Global WarmingDespite it's lurid title, The Satanic Gasses: Clearing the Air about Global Warming is a slam-dunk against the poor science that proponents of theories of global warming foist on the public. Given the history of the global warming advocates, it's almost too easy for authors Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling to discredit them.

If your memory is long enough, you'll remember that climate change proponents have never been entirely consistent when it came to what was happening and what the eventual outcome would be. Up until the late 1970s, the public was told that climate change was bringing about the next ice age. In recent years, scientists have blamed nearly every unique weather occurrence on climate change regardless of what was really causing them or whether they weren't really all that unique. By continuing to rely on poor computer models and buttressed by a United Nations keen on using the debate as a pretext for redistributing wealth from the north to the south, their science has been diluted into a political argument by men like Al Gore.

In contrast to those who fight any notion of the idea, Michaels and Balling acknowledge that human beings have contributed towards climate change. Agricultural practices alone, which have changed the amount of absorption of the sun's rays, have caused slight changes in the planet's climate. Michaels and Balling, however, argue that it is hard to answer if Earth really has warmed given the planet's temperature fluctuates so wildly. The data scientists have been collecting for more than a century is suspect given the changes in how it's been collected and satellite data tends to disprove most surface and near surface observations - which is why a lot of scientists fail to include those observations.

Of course, that doesn't stop scientists keen on building their careers on the global warming issue. Although their predictions of global warming continue to pass by unfulfilled, their computer models are demonstrably disconnected from reality, and their theories are increasingly being refuted by fact, groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have refused to consider that their apocalyptic visions aren't likely to happen. As the authors point out, scientists these days have a tendency to massage data to fit their theories so regardless of what happens predictions of dire consequences can always be made and government funding continues to flow. An unquestioning media and a public not versed in the issues only serves to promote their interests.

By concentrating on science -- the book has been endorsed by the past presidents of the National Academy of Science, the past director of the Board of Agriculture of the National Research Council, and the past director of the U.S. Geological Survey -- and not the personal attacks their critics engage in whenever someone questions the ever changing orthodoxy of climate change, Michaels and Ballings refute the argument that critics of the prevailing theories don't publish their work. The Satanic Gasses is a marvelously referenced work not afraid to be critical of either side of the debate when shoddy science makes an appearance.

Although The Satanic Gasses was released ahead of the 2000 election as a counterbalance to the re-release of Gore's Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit and his fear mongering during the campaign, the book's science still holds up as a valid contrarian view to the established orthodoxy. Dissenters to the IPCC don't have their voices heard in the media so it's up to the layperson to search out their own information and The Satanic Gasses does an admirable job of clearing the air so that the facts, as best as we know them, are in plain view.

Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario.

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