Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review – What’s The Worst That Can Happen? by Greg Craven (Climate Change/Global Warming)

Subtitled “A Rational Response to The Climate Change Debate,” this book should be read by everyone interested in global warming and man-made climate change.  Craven is a high school physics and chemistry teacher, and he has developed a simple and effective way to help people sift through the heated debates and decide if we need to take action on climate change.  And we don’t even have to decide which side is “right” to do it.

The two sides, of course, are what Craven labels “the warmists” and “the skeptics.”   Warmists are defined as those that believe that the science is strong enough for us to need to take action, while skeptics are those that feel we do not need to take action.  With these two sides defined, Craven introduces a decision grid to aid the process.  In the end he shows us how he filled his decision grid, but also encourages readers to fill in their own grid and make their own decisions.

In between is the crux of the book.  He does a great job of explaining the nature of science and how “we never quite know for sure” (including for things like gravity), but that sometimes the evidence is so overwhelming that it is accepted by virtually everyone (e.g., gravity). He also clues us in to some quirks about our own brains and things like “confirmation bias.”  These set up a chapter on how to assess the credibility of various sources.  After all, unless you spend your life studying the science it’s likely you won’t be able to understand it all, so instead we need to know which sources of information are reliable and which are not so much. Craven then gives us some information on what each side is telling us and who is doing the telling, all fit nicely into his credibility spectrum.

He then demystifies the doomsday claims.

I’ll leave it to all to read the book and draw their own conclusions about the science.  But I definitely recommend that all of us use the tools Craven offers in this book.  And I recommend that all scientists learn how to communicate as easily as does Craven.

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