by Judith Curry
Reviews of new books by Steve Koonin, Matthew Kahn and Marc Morano.
The three books that are the focus of this post provide different perspectives on climate change:
• Adapting to climate change: Markets and management of an uncertain future, by Matthew Kahn
• Green fraud: Why the Green New Deal is worse than you think, by Marc Morano
Green fraud: Why the Green New Deal is worse than you think
Morano’s book is clearly pitched at Trump’s base. The book opens with endorsement statements from Hannity, Inhofe, Limbaugh etc. Chapter 1 establishes Morano’s bona fides as the biggest, baddest climate skeptic of them all.
However, if you can get past the first 26 pages, this book provides a very cogent analysis of U.S. climate politics. At the end of Chapter 1, Morano provides a summary of the forthcoming chapters; I’ve rather clumsily taken screen shots of this text.
The book does not ‘deny’ the basic science of climate change, but challenges whether it is ‘dangerous’ (and this topic comprises only one chapter). The book is not about the science, but rather our political response and the failure of the ‘solutions.’. The book includes carefully crafted arguments, spiced with many amusing anecdotes. The book has almost 90 pages of endnotes and references.
As far as I can tell, Green Fraud has not been reviewed by any mainstream outlet. The response from the climatariat has been attempts to get the book ‘cancelled’. From the Daily Kos:
Longtime fossil fool Marc Morano has a ‘new’ book out about how ‘the Green New Deal is even worse than you think.’ ($24.99 on Amazon)…
Given that Amazon claims to want to be a climate savior, how does it justify selling books like this, and so, so many others, that very intentionally work against a goal of climate action? You can either be a climate champion, or you can sell and profit off of climate denial books like Morano’s, that ‘recycle scientifically unfounded claims that are then amplified by the conservative movement, media, and political elites.’
Anyone who wants to understand the U.S. political debate over climate change should read this book. Climate activists should read this book to understand what they are up against (and also some of the foolishness in the name of climate activism). I would love to see a real attempt at critiquing this book (rather than attempts to cancel it or smear Morano).
I really appreciate reading single-authored books on climate change that lay out a vision of the ‘whole thing’. The long form allows for synthesis and extended arguments and single logic, and the single author avoids negotiated agreement that waters down the whole thing. As you can see, there are many different perspectives and ways of framing the climate problem and its solutions.
With regards to ‘The Science,’ there is nothing in Koonin’s or Morano’s book that isn’t within the likely/very likely range of the IPCC for a low/medium confidence finding. Koonin gets it mostly right by focusing on historical observations and acknowledging that much is ‘unsettled.’ We need to get past fighting the climate policy wars through ‘The Science,’ which will remain unsettled particularly with regards to future projections.
The bigger issue is whether climate change is ‘dangerous.’ Lomborg’s and Schellenberger’s books focus on this topic, and it also appears in Koonin’s and Morano’s books. If climate change is perceived to be locally dangerous, then local adaptation (per Kahn) is the way to go.
The science/policy interface is dealt with explicitly by Mann, Koonin and Morano. Koonin touches on some of the key issues regarding the disfunction at this interface.
With regards to mitigation. Morano argues that it isn’t necessary, Lomborg and Koonin argue that it is ineffective at influencing the climate, and Schellenberger and Gates argue for better technologies (with Schellenberger focused on nuclear).
While covering similar territory (climate politics), Morano’s book is the polar opposite of Mann’s book in terms of perspective and who are the villains. Both books are somewhat polemical, but present two very different political world views.
A wicked problem is characterized by multiple problem definitions, knowability, knowledge fragmentation, interest differentiation and a dysfunction distribution of power among stakeholders. These different perspectives clearly reflect the wickedness of the climate change problem.
The most useful way to grapple with this wickedness is to understand multiple perspectives on the problem. This involves individuals reading both Mann’s and Morano’s books, and not attempting to cancel the books that don’t align with your own perspective.
And finally, Amazon’s sales rankings in Environment Policy (as of 5/9)
Bill Gates #1
Born Lomborg #2
Michael Schellenberger #3
Marc Morano #5
Michael Mann #20