Teaching Science

Storm World

A decade old now, this book by Chris Mooney is a decent introduction to hurricanes, the politics of (American) weather prediction, and the link between global climate change and hurricanes.

From the Kirkus review:

In his preface, Mooney states that global warming did not directly cause Katrina, or any other hurricane. He devotes the rest of the book to explaining why and how climate change intensifies and increases storms. No fan of the Bush Administration, the author also reveals the ways in which political interests keep crucial data from reaching public attention or, failing that, work to make sure it is skewed and/or misconstrued. He humanizes scientific disputes, and he takes care to draw vivid portraits of the scientists spearheading debate. One camp, “the empiricists,” led by famed hurricane forecaster William Gray, denies that hurricane fluctuations are anything but natural and periodic. The second group, which Mooney dubs “the modelers,” uses computer forecasting techniques to show that as the earth’s temperature increases, so does storm frequency and intensity. Into nitty-gritty details of the science behind these arguments, the author weaves tales of political intrigue and media hype. For example, although the climatologists portrayed in the book disagree primarily about global warming’s effects on hurricanes, the media twists their disputes into clashes over whether global warming exists at all, or is human-influenced. Unsurprisingly, hurricane wars have recently become highly politicized.

Science has moved on (and politics changed a bit) since this book was written, but it's still relevant today — and well worth the time spent reading it.

Linked in the grade 10 climate unit.