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Unstoppable Global Warming – every 1,500 years

Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.
RRP $33.95

Unstoppable Global Warming presents as a scientific treatment of the phenomenon of global warming, and as such, it is clearly a minority view. The authors are both scientists; Singer is a climate physicist, while Avery is a biologist. But we are entitled to ask if this is really about science.

At one level, the book is easily accessible to the average reader, and includes a number of graphics to illustrate the thesis summarised in the title, namely that global warming is both unstoppable, and is part of a natural cycle that recurs approximately every 1,500 years.

Thus, there is nothing we can do about it except learn to live with it, and wait for the massive cooling that will ultimately follow.

In that it purports to be an authoritative rebuttal of the widely-held view that climate change is largely due to human factors, Unstoppable Global Warming is good news for those who want a “scientific” excuse for continued abuse of the planet; and therein lies the danger.

One problem is the authors’ assumption that science is completely objective, and it simply a matter of determining the “facts” of the matter. But the nature of science is more complex than that, and includes issues of values and social context.

An even bigger problem is the authors’ use of language; for example, they constantly use the pejorative term “climate change alarmists” whenever they refer to the majority on the other side of the debate. It need hardly be said that this is not the language of science, nor is it consistent with legitimate academic debate.

But, not content with name-calling, the authors allege, improbably, that sinister motives lie behind their opponents’ apparent concern about the environment.

Perhaps this is consistent with what is arguably the real purpose of Singer and Avery’s book, which is revealed in the concluding chapter. In essence, this is the concern that the affluent lifestyle to which many in the West have become accustomed should not be jeopardised.

Like everyone else, Singer and Avery are entitled to a point of view, but the danger is that their work may be read uncritically. There is a huge volume of literature that presents a very different view of the scientific data and the ethical imperatives that flow from it.

In any event, issues such as environmental stewardship, sustainability, biodiversity, and concern about social justice rise out of our theology, and not our scientific perceptions.

Reviewed by Rev Clive W Ayre