, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 531-559
Date: 12 Jan 2012

Perspectives on global warming

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Steven Yearley

This is a terrifically researched and very well presented book. It is a major achievement to produce a trade book based on the social and historical analysis of science that tells a wonderful, though alarming, story with wit and irony. The heart of this story is the way that industry interests, friendly scientists and conservative activists—mainly in the US—have over the last half century developed a strategy for generating the appearance of doubt relating to the scientific claims underwriting a series of environmental and public health reforms. The dramatic but wryly entertaining aspect of this story is that in the differing fields of smoking, acid rain, ozone depletion, nuclear winter and climate change, the same scientists and advisers manage to crop up, always trying to talk the regulations down. They devise and refine a strategy of focusing on generating the appearance of doubt, insisting on media outlets featuring ‘balanced’ coverage of the two ‘sides’, and of targe ...