This is a reasonably short work, very different from Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth. Although Paltridge is an atmospheric physicist and erstwhile Chief Research Scientist with Australia's CSIRO, he has put together an accessible summary of some of the damning evidence against the global warming alarmism.
Paltridge has an interesting style. He writes in a quiet, understated tone, whilst making fatal attacks on the warming doctrine. From the very brief overview of the IPCC process (with the recommendation committee charging ahead before the scientific committees had had time to collect any avidence or make any findings), he proceeds to a layman's introduction to some physics. His main message here is how much is still unknown about climate processes. In this I disagree with his presentation, because some basic 'outer envelope' considerations do show, in my opinion, how extremely unlikely the IPCC's forecasts really are.
He moves on to some economics questions, and here he is devastating, but in his usual understated style. On the Australian Government's own Garnaut Report findings, Australians of 100 years hence will be four times better off than we are, and yet we are being asked to impoverish ourselves to save them a ten percent reduction in their living standards. Given the uncertainty in any of these forecasts, the policies being promoted now are in the lunatic fringe, but Paltridge leaves it to us to come to that conclusion.
Then in a chapter on sociology, he shows how a complete society can be led into turning a delusion into public policy and common 'knowledge'. At this point even the sedate and quiet Paltridge has to acknowledge that the warming madness has more in common with religion than science.
He then addresses how the scientific process itself has been subverted and in many cases rendered inoperative. That is a hard case to sell because it is more vague than the bald fact that the IPCC forecasts can be shown to be wrong, period. However, I believe it is at least as important because we are in the process of bequeathing to our descendants a world that has lost the ability to do real science and gain wisdom. It will lose its freedom too, but that's another matter.
What is missing from this book - and it might be a positive or a negative, depending on your reasons for reading - is any mention of the fact of geological history that for the past 2.5 million years our planet has been yo-yoing into and out of ice ages (spending roughly 90% of the time in them), and the successive ice periods are deeper and colder, whilst successive warm periods are less warm; and the regular schedule has us down for another ice age right now. The book's message seems to be "The global warming claims are not a cause for concern." But that is not going far enough in my opinion. There really is a big cause for concern, namely that the alarmism is recommending exactly the most dangerous policy for human life, wild life and the planet's health in general, in that it suggests trying to cool the climate just as it is about to slip into what the regular-as-clockwork geologic history would suggest will be a planetary killer of an ice age.
Paltridge doesn't mention this. Maybe he thinks it is uncertain, maybe he thinks talking about that would be a 'bridge too far' for nervous readers. Either way, the book is a bit timid for my taste, although hard-hitting in spite of that. But I can imagine there would be many readers for whom it would be exactly the reality clarifier that I think Paltridge wants it to be. The final chapter is both depressing and concerning, and rightly so. I cannot understand anyone who could continue boasting about 'reducing my carbon footprint' after reading this.
Finally, my pet peeve, the book has no index. It is probably less of a problem for such a short book, but I don't think any author is doing his hard work justice by stopping 5% short of perfection.