Reviewed by Jan Narveson
1972, a group called the Club of Rome “told us the world was running out of resources and predicted catastrophe within decades.” It didn’t happen. On the contrary, despite wars and strife of various sorts, the world got wealthier, and estimates of available resources at the end of the century were far higher than when the Club started its jeremiads. Tim Flannery is aware of this: “Even today no one can accurately predict the volume of oil, gold and other materials beneath our feet.”
Flannery does not add the far more important point than no one has any reason whatever to think that 200 years from now humanity will be heavily dependent on oil, gold or any other specific material you care to name. Never mind that for the moment. The story of this book is that “the climate change issue is different. It results from air pollution … The debate now … concerns the impacts of some of those pollutants (known as greenhouse gases) on all life on Earth.” That’s the claim, anyway.
Who is Tim Flannery? Well, he is a scientist, for one thing. Not, however, a climatologist, but rather a paleontologist. Also, a “science writer.” One thing about science writers is that they like to write what’s interesting. The Global Warming scenario is, in the hands of a skilled writer, certainly “interesting” (in the Chinese sense of the word). Indeed, if this book were your only source of information, it would be downright scary. Chicken Little was right! Here you’ll find nary a word of doubt about the Official View on this matter, sanctified by Kyoto, Rio, Al Gore, Harper’s magazine, etc., etc. Flannery states as if it were simply a fact that virtually all of the warming, which he has no doubt at all is a lot, has taken place and is taking place, and for sure is caused by human-made greenhouse gases, and on top of that, it’s all propelling us toward climatological disaster, at an alarming pace.