The Intersection

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My new book, Storm World, will not be out for another two months yet; it hits in early July. However, the early reviews are coming in from outlets serving the literary and publishing industry such as Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. And I’m now tremendously pleased to be able to report that both of these publications have singled out the book, giving it starred reviews.

The reviews themselves are reproduced in full below the fold; the Publisher’s Weekly version is also available online without a password (search for my name or the title).

From Publishers Weekly:

(Starred Review)
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming

Chris Mooney

Harcourt, $26 (400p)

ISBN 978-0-15-101287-9

Having witnessed Katrina’s devastation of his mother’s New Orleans house, science writer Mooney (The Republican War on Science) became concerned that government policy still ignored worst-case scenarios in planning for the future, despite that unprecedented disaster. He set out to explore the question of “whether global warming will strengthen or otherwise change hurricanes in general, even if it can’t explain the absolute existence, attributes, or behavior of any single one of them.” Since storm research’s early 19th-century inception, Mooney found, there has been a split between those who believed the field “should be rooted in the careful collection of data and observations,” (e.g., weathermen) and those who preferred “theory-based deductions from the laws of physics” (e.g., climatologists). Whirling around this longstanding antagonism is a mix of politics, personalities and the drama of these frightening storms. The urgency and difficulty of resolving the question of global warming’s existence, and its relationship to storms, has only heated things up. Mooney turns this complicated stew into a page-turner, making the science accessible to the general reader, vividly portraying the scientists and relating new discoveries while scientists and politicians change sides–or stubbornly ignore new evidence. Mooney draws hope from some researchers’ integration of both research methods and concludes that to be effective, scientists need to be clear communicators. (July)

And from Kirkus Reviews (password required):

(Starred Review)

Mooney, Chris

STORM WORLD: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming

Harcourt (400 pp.)

$25.00

Jul. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-101287-9

Absorbing, informed account of the politics behind a pressing contemporary controversy: Does global warming intensify hurricanes?

In his preface, Mooney (The Republican War on Science, 2005, etc.) states that global warming did not directly cause Katrina, or any other hurricane. He devotes the rest of the book to explaining why and how climate change intensifies and increases storms. No fan of the Bush Administration, the author also reveals the ways in which political interests keep crucial data from reaching public attention or, failing that, work to make sure it is skewed and/or misconstrued. He humanizes scientific disputes, and he takes care to draw vivid portraits of the scientists spearheading debate. One camp, “the empiricists,” led by famed hurricane forecaster William Gray, denies that hurricane fluctuations are anything but natural and periodic. The second group, which Mooney dubs “the modelers,” uses computer forecasting techniques to show that as the earth’s temperature increases, so does storm frequency and intensity. Into nitty-gritty details of the science behind these arguments, the author weaves tales of political intrigue and media hype. For example, although the climatologists portrayed in the book disagree primarily about global warming’s effects on hurricanes, the media twists their disputes into clashes over whether global warming exists at all, or is human-influenced. Unsurprisingly, hurricane wars have recently become highly politicized. Aside from reiterating the importance of de-linking politics from environmental science, Mooney closes with several useful recommendations. The most pressing of these is the need to consider escalating storm violence when planning the redevelopment of New Orleans–or any near-coastal city for that matter. “We can’t give an exact answer about how global warming will modify hurricanes,” concludes the author. “Yet [that] doesn’t mean we have no right to feel concerned.” (Agent: Susan Rabiner/Susan Rabiner Literary Agency)

There are more complexities in the book on some of the scientific questions (and scientific taxonomies) than are perhaps conveyed by these quite brief takes…but for those, read the book.

You can pre-order from Amazon.com.

Meanwhile, I begin the long trip back from Australia soon, so blogging will be slow for a good while….

Comments

  1. #1 VJB
    April 24, 2007

    Ever read Bruce Sterling’s SF novel ‘Heavy Weather’? http://www.amazon.com/Heavy-Weather-Bruce-Sterling/dp/055357292X

    Read it a few years back and it was rather dramatic, possibly useful to you.

  2. #2 llewelly
    April 24, 2007

    Congratulations on the good reviews. I expect you deserve them.
    But this:

    … government policy still ignored worst-case scenarios in planning for the future, despite that unprecedented disaster.

    sets me off. (I know, the phrasing is not your fault. But bear with me) I saw, in popular magazines, at least 10 different pre-2005 articles on the potential effects of a major hurricane landfall centered on NOLA. They consistently agreed on thousands (sometimes 10s of thousands) dead, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. In Katrina, NOLA got off easy, because Katrina only sideswiped the city. ‘unprecedented’ ignores the fact that Katrina was foreseen, there was ample time and resources to prepare, and governments and business alike chose to do nothing. It was decided, not ‘unprecedented’. That word, despite the tone of the rest of the review, is emblematic of the self-destructive thinking that denies our ability to prepare for these disasters. The seemingly comforting delusion that Katrina was ‘worst-case’ or ‘unprecedented’ must be abandoned.

    Finally, I don’t expect that Katrina was foreseen was left out of your book, so I see no reason to grant the reviewer any leniency.

  3. #3 Chris Mooney
    April 24, 2007

    Llewelly,
    Given that I was one of the many, many Katrina predictors–

    see
    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=9754

    –of course the book doesn’t overlook this. But the destruction was “unprecedented” for New Orleans even if not unforseen–and even if Katrina was not, as I and many others have pointed out, a worst case scenario.

    So I think you’re being a tad hard on the reviewer.

    Thanks!

  4. #4 matthew
    April 25, 2007

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it!

  5. #5 llewelly
    April 25, 2007

    Yeah, I had read that one – very good article, Chris.
    On second thought, I agree I was a little too harsh.

  6. #6 Jon Winsor
    April 27, 2007

    Congrats, Chris! Looking forward to reading it.

  7. #7 Masterick
    August 5, 2008

    And I certainly agree with this! However, the ebook needs to be of value however small it is and should be somewhat or completely exclusive instead of an aggregator of content from around the web.This you can find with the book First lady president which is a story of how such a figure might emerge as the first ever serious female candidate in a U.S. presidential election and How would her opponents challenge her in their election speeches, media interviews, and TV debates.

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