Global Warming: A Guide to the Science


62 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88975-187-0
DDC 363.738'74




Edited by Laura Jones
Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is Director of Research and Natural Lands at the Royal
Botanical Gardens.


Global Warming is the first volume in the Risk Controversy Series that
the conservative Fraser Institute is launching to address issues
involving complex science and controversy. Four American scientists
present a brief analysis of what is perhaps the greatest contemporary
environmental problem. There is an opening salvo against the media (an
easy target) and activists with agendas (black pots and kettles indeed),
followed by discussions of atmospheric gases and their consequences,
models of global climate, and laboratory studies of plants under
enhanced levels of carbon dioxide. The conclusions are that increases in
greenhouse gases have produced no deleterious effects, but have in fact
enhanced plant growth, and that the climatic impact of human activities
is highly uncertain. There is a glossary and references.

Contrasting with scholarly analyses of science and risk, these
conclusions are achieved with a slick legerdemain. The limitations of
any data and any model can always be criticized, but their impact must
not be ignored. Glib oversimplifications such as “Carbon dioxide is
not a pollutant; it is essential to life” require explication, while
the claim that “the United States ... may not be a net emitter of
carbon” is astonishing. There is no mention of rising ocean levels, or
of abandoning Tuvalu, the Kyoto Protocol, or the precautionary principle
as expressed in the 1992 Rio Declaration: “where there are threats of
serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall
not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to
prevent environmental degradation.” As with earlier publications from
the Institute, it is important to understand the scarcely hidden agenda
with this one: attack any threat to unfettered markets.


“Global Warming: A Guide to the Science,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,