Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth

James Lawrence Powell. Columbia Univ., $35, (352) ISBN 978-0-231-16448-1
Powell (The Inquisition of Climate Science), executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, takes a historical look at four truths in the earth sciences and how these truths came to be accepted. While he gives equal weight to his treatments of the age of the earth, continental drift, meteorite impacts, and global warming, it is his goal to use the first three topics to help inform understanding of the fourth. With each subject in turn, Powell begins with first thoughts on the matter and then tracks opposed views until the mounting data in each case is able to "transform heresy into truth." Scientists come off as fallible and stubborn as anyone, and indeed Powell says that "in science, being wrong is inevitable and indispensable." But he makes it clear that the process of science eventually succeeds in producing the best explanation of available data. In the case of anthropogenic global warming, there is no dispute in the scientific community and, despite media claims, this is borne out by peer-reviewed articles (of which only one in a thousand claims that this is not the case). Powell concludes that Big Oil is doing exactly what Big Tobacco did in trying to obscure the truth for its own ends. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/05/2015
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-231-53845-9
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