Book Review: 'Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies about Climate Change'

Book Review: 'Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies about Climate Change'
September 3, 2013

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute, an... (read full bio)

Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies about Climate Change — by Bob Carter and John Spooner, with Bill Kininmonth, Martin Fell, Stewart Franks, and Bryan Leyland — could be the best textbook yet written on climate change for all ages and backgrounds.

The one thing that is a little confusing about the book is the title, which derives from the fact that all the authors are from Down Under (Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania), where the governments are indeed taxing air for its carbon dioxide content. Carter is a renowned marine geologist and environmental scientist, and Spooner is a lawyer turned cartoonist whose contribution makes the book both fun to read and insightful.

Carter et.al. chose to write the book using the Socratic method of asking questions and providing answers. It is divided into eight chapters, all filled with every question you could imagine to ask followed by brief answers and then the supporting material to prove the answers.

The book’s great opening question is: What is a climate scientist? The accurate answer is that with so many fields of knowledge required, no one can be an overall climate expert. The authors follow with a simple question that few can answer: How does the climate system work? The simple answer is that it works through atmospheric and oceanic circulations that continuously transfer excess solar energy from the tropics to the polar regions.

The full, long answer is broken down into small, understandable bits throughout the book, including virtually all the everyday questions such as: Is the earth warming, has it ever been warmer, how much warming occurred in the 20th century, how much warming is due to atmospheric carbon dioxide, and how much of that has been provided by mankind?

In Chapter Two the authors explain the source and production of climate alarmism in a manner that can quickly explain why such unsupportable falsehoods could attract such a massive and powerful following. Their description of the makeup of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is enlightening, especially the fact that the participants are not asked to determine the nature of climate change but instead to produce evidence of man’s impact on climate.

Carter sums up the climate change dilemma as follows:

“The past 24 years have seen thousands of scientists expend well over $100 billion in studying the influence that human-related emissions may be having on climate. Given these intensive efforts, the absence of a measurable or unequivocal human imprint in the recent temperature record and the absence of any global warming trend at all over the last 16 years both point to frailty in the dangerous Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis. A reasonable default conclusion is that any human influence on the global climate lies within the noise of natural variability.”

Carter and friends do a great job of explaining how we know about ancient climates, and they describe the proxies scientists use, such as tree rings and chemical indicators, to determine temperatures before man began to record them. They do an even better job of explaining the Milankovitch cycles of 20,000, 41,000, and 100,000 years determined by the movement of planetary bodies in our solar system which create gravitational interactions. They also explode the myths of coral leaching and polar bear declines.

The authors’ complete explanation of the greenhouse warming theory and the truth about greenhouse gases is really outstanding—and it shows that the matter is not as simple as the public is being told. The authors hit hard on a point I make in all my lectures: the more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the less effective it is at capturing outgoing radiation from the earth, because it works only in a narrow range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thus there appears to be a natural limit to the greenhouse effect.

Perhaps best of all is the authors’ explanation of the mathematical models used to determine future earth temperatures. These so called General Circulation Models are so reliant on guesses regarding the many variables that affect climate as to be of no real value in planning future policies. They explain it thus:

“Confidence in the projections made by the current generation of deterministic climate models is low because their construction is based on only a short period of climate history, and because they have not been validated on independent data. For the moment, therefore, deterministic Global Circulation Models represent a highly constrained and simplified version of the Earth’s complex and chaotic climate system.”

Their chapter on the gigantic impact of the ocean on climate and carbon dioxide content as compared to the less dense atmosphere is really outstanding. It is followed by a lengthy chapter on Australian climate politics which will be of general interest to some but might be skimmed or skipped by others.

In the final chapters the authors deal beautifully with the fallacies of renewable energy and explain how mankind can prepare for whatever climate changes nature may throw at us.

In summary, this is the very best instructional book I have seen for those seeking a clear understanding of the realities of the earth’s climate and a remedy for the amazing fallacies spread daily by those who wish to make political gains by plying the public with unscientific misinformation.

[NOTE: Printed copies of Taxing Air (A$30 + p&p) can be ordered at TaxingAir.com, and a Kindle version ($7.99) is available from Amazon.]

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute, an... (read full bio)