More Storm World Reviews: Real Climate, Outside, Wired

By Chris Mooney | June 18, 2007 3:12 pm


The longer form reviews of Storm World are starting to come out, even as the book is now shipping from Amazon (and presumably other sites). I’m excited that the first really meaty review has gone up today by Mike Mann at You can read it here.

The review is very positive but does include “minor quibbles” such as the following:

As we have remarked before, one should be very careful about giving too much weight to any one late-breaking paper. Where there are certainly exceptions where paradigms are dramatically broken on the strength of one groundbreaking paper, science rarely works that way. Instead, scientific understanding generally advances slowly and steadily, based on the results of many independent studies. Mooney however gives quite a bit of weight to the recent article by Kossin et al just published as the book was completed. While this study is undoubtedly an important contribution to the literature, introducing a potentially useful methodology for refining estimates of past tropical cyclone activity in all the major basins, it is hardly the last word (see e.g. the discussion thread in our previous article on the paper). And in places, the implications of that paper are overplayed. For example, Mooney appears in places to imply that the paper’s findings challenge the contention that climate change can be tied to increasing hurricane intensity. While the Kossin et al results do challenge some of the findings described in the work by Webster et al (2005) (i.e., the trends for the Pacific and Indian basins), they reinforce the conclusion of positive intensity trends for the Atlantic. Perhaps more importantly, the paper in no way challenges the Emanuel (2005) study demonstrating a close linkage between warming sea surface temperatures and hurricane intensity for the Atlantic. Indeed, those latter findings have been reinforced, not challenged, by more recent work (e.g. Sriver and Huber).

I may do a reply to this, but first I’ll see what other commenters have to say over at RealClimate. Feel free to join in.

Meanwhile some July magazine issues also cover Storm World. The review in the latest Outside can be read here (Microsoft Word). Wired also has a review in its July issue, which I will see about posting soon…..

P.S.: Posted a reply concerning the Kossin study at Real Climate, readable here.


Comments (2)

  1. I just worked over my review for the Cleveland Plain Dealer with the editor. She tells me it will run on Sunday June 24. I deliberately stayed away from The Intersection until after I had completed reading the book and writing my review.

    I’ll also be putting a longer version of the review, perhaps not as well polished but with more content, at my Science Shelf review archive. Clicking my name gets you there.

    Other versions of my review will appear in the Dallas Morning News and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, publication dates unknown.

  2. Thank you Chris for responding to my comment at RealClimate.

    Apparently I had read too much in the quote “the evidence simply ISN’T IN on all of these changes–not yet” (my emphasis).

    For what is worth, let me state that I was not “ignoring” expectations and concerns. Or maybe I was, but simply because I wanted to concentrate on the “evidence” bit.

    For example I agree that more instances like 2004’s Catarina would be strong evidence of change.

    And by all means, it would be absurd not to build stronger coastal defences and to forgo investing in better hurricane-harm-reduction interventions.


    Anyway, the topic of your book does seem to stand out of the crowd.

    The science of hurricanes appears to be much more fun and interesting than the average climate change issue, as there is a debate, a “fight” between different hypothesis, predictions compared to near-future observations, and all that does not always get pre-eminence in the exchanges about models.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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