In Part 1 of this three-part article I talked about some of the earlier political propaganda promoting The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis and looked at possible motivation of one UK publisher of books by authors who support that hypothesis. This time I’ll talk about a book that is in preparation, the co-authors and a little about its USA publisher.
This additional potential “spin and scare” book “Rising Sea Levels” is being prepared for publication by McFarland and Co by co-authors Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson. Let us take a closer look at the degree of expertise in the subject of “Rising Sea Levels” shared by this pair of ambitious writers. After all, it would seem to be reasonable to expect that they know something about a subject that they are writing about, especially one as contentious as sea levels claimed to be rising as a result of our use of fossil fuels.
Hunt is “a former US diplomat-turned writer” and “a published author of children's books and young adult books” (Note 1). In July I was surprised to receive an E-mail from Hunt, someone I had never heard of before, requesting help on this book. I considered it worthwhile helping him to write accurately about such an important subject so the next day I offered my assistance with suggestions about balance when commenting on measurement and modelling.
Hunt responded, acknowledging his state of ignorance on the subject and attaching a draft copy which I reviewed. Hunt’s response to my review comments included “I'm assuming that the deniers will not like what I write. That's OK with me: I'm writing for the British Library, not for them .. and will, I hope, remain there for a very long time -- long after the current generation of deniers is dead and buried...”. Those references to “deniers” gives an indication of the degree of balanced presentation to be expected in the book.
I heard no more from Hunt after that.
Co-author Ursula Carlson teaches writing and literature at the community college of Western Nevada as Professor in the English Department. She has a B.A. in English from Michigan State University; an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Detroit - note that “creative writing” bit (Note 2).
The Nevada education authority’s Academic, Research and Student Affairs Committee commented recently (Note 3) that she is knowledgeable, scholarly, intellectual, well-grounded in her subject and stands for integrity. The committee makes no mention there of any expertise in sea levels or climate change, however, it does say that she is a published poet (hardly relevant to writing a book about rising sea levels).
I thought it possible that the committee had simply overlooked that area of her expertise so searched elsewhere for any reference to it. Ursula did write a couple of articles on the subject for publication by her local newspaper The Nevada Appeal. In the first article “Fresh ideas: Heed signs of a warming planet before it's too late” (Note 4) in June she gives the impression that she is knowledgeable on the subject of global warming and says such things as “ .. nearly every major glacier in the world is shrinking .. Oceans are not only warmer, but more acidic; the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures is decreasing; plants are blooming earlier (some by days, some by weeks) than they used to; animals are moving farther and farther toward the North and South poles .. ”.
Ursula concludes “In other words, as I understand it, by the time global warming is so obvious as to be potentially or probably catastrophic, climate change may be so much underway that there is little that can be done to mitigate it, much less reverse it”.
This is very scary, but how does she know all of this? Well, the note at the bottom of the article says “Ursula Carlson .. for this column referred to Elizabeth Kolbert's “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” published in 2006”. So that expression of her “understanding” is not from her own research into the subject but is second hand from Elizabeth Kolbert. Where have we seen that name before? Oh yes, she is author of one of the books published by Bloomsbury that I listed in Part 1 of this series. Elizabeth Kolbert, like Ursula Carlson, is not a scientist. She is a journalist who studied literature and moved straight into journalism (Note 5) and has been with the Obama-supporting New Yorker since 1999. The extent of her expertise in the numerous scientific disciplines that contribute to improving our poor understanding of global climate processes and drivers is from talking to scientists. This suggests that the extent of Ursular Carlson’s expertise in this area is even less than that of Elizabeth Kolbert and I have been unable to find any evidence to the contrary.
In the second article “Loss of permafrost provides visual proof of climate change” this month (Note 6) she is somewhat more cautious. Although she talks about global warming and greenhouse gases she avoids any suggestion that humans are responsible for any climate change or able to exercise any control over it. She does make the nonsensical statement that “Melting snow and ice seems reasonable in a world that is getting warmer, but the earth itself, the dirt, the soil, the permafrost is melting as well”. Although “Ursula .. is currently reading studies on climate change” she does need to do much more reading before she can be considered to be an authority on the subject.
To sum up so far, Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson appear to have only two things in common as far as writing a book relating to sea level rise or climate change:
1) they co-authored “Trails of Historic New Mexico: Routes Used by Indian, Spanish and American Travellers Through 1886.” (Note 7), which had nothing to do with the subject,2) neither appear to have any demonstrated expertise in the subject.
On 1st September I wrote to Hunt and Ursula recommending that they read the article "South Pacific Sea Level: A Reassessment" by highly respected sceptic Vincent Gray (Note 8) but neither responded. I didn’t expect to get involved with either any more after that but I was drawn back to them via seemingly unconnected comment about political “spin”. This led me to checking the Internet for what, if anything, Hunt was doing about his book.
I found that Hunt is trolling Internet blogs - mostly of supporters of The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis - seeking help on the topic from anyone who is prepared to give it, regardless of expertise in the subject, e.g. realclimate, Profmandia, Open Mind, Design Observer, Scienceof Doom. As is to be expected, the responses on these blogs to the questions Hunt was posing are heavily biased towards supporting the IPCC’s position that our continued use of fossil fuels will result in catastrophic changes to global climates. The responses, which also refer Hunt to equally biased blogs, give an indication of the likely shape of the finished book As an example there is not a mention of sea level expert Nils-Axel Mörner (Note 9).
From this evidence Hunt and Ursula need help – a lot of it, but not from Internet blogs. A good starting point would be an interview with Mörner entitled “Sea-level Expert: It’s Not Rising” (Note 10).
This is enough to give you a feel for how biased that book “Rising Sea Levels” by Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson will be. This begs the question of why would a respected publisher of non-fiction get involved with people who are writing a book on a subject about which they know virtually nothing?
McFarland and Co.
This publisher boasts of being “a leading U.S. publisher of scholarly, reference and academic books .. recognized for its serious works”. In June last year McFarland and Co celebrated 30 years of involvement in publishing (Note 11), that’s 7 more years than Bloomsbury, another highly successful publisher on the other side of the Atlantic. McFarland and Company, Inc.(Note 12) QUOTE:
.. was founded in the spring of 1979 by Robert McFarland Franklin. McFarland is located in Jefferson, North Carolina, .. The company is now one of the leading publishers of scholarly and reference books in the United States, .. McFarland is recognized for its serious works in a variety of fields,
.. From the beginning, McFarland has been a library-oriented publisher, producing comprehensive reference works and scholarly monographs on a variety of subjects, .. Librarians remain McFarland's traditional customers,. ..
.. McFarland welcomes proposals for nonfiction manuscripts on a wide range of subjects, .. Reference books are one of our specialties... “We do not publish fiction, poetry, children's books”.
Checking on previous titles I can find only one book on climate change/global warming/sea level and that is “Climate Change Policy in the United States The Science, the Politics and the Prospects for Change” by Dianne Rahm, a professor of public administration and policy, not a scientist. On the basis of the above claims that McFarland make about themselves it is not obvious how the company could possibly benefit from publishing a book on Rising Sea Levels” by Janin and Carlson?
As far as I can ascertain the major players at McFarland and CO. majority owner and Editor in Chief Robert Franklin, Executive Vice President Rhonda Herman and Assistant Editor Charles Perdue seem to have no involvement in the climate change debate. The only explanation of this publication on “Rising Sea Levels” by these co-authors that I could find comes in this report in 2008 (Note 13). QUOTE:
A “slow, but steady decline” is how Rhonda Herman , executive vice president at reference publisher McFarland and Co. Inc., characterizes the market for reference books. “We are cautious about sales and will feel lucky if sales remain flat.” The reality of an economic downturn is starting to sink in—McFarland’s volume is flat, Herman says, “but actual income is down 2 percent. The reason for this is that we are experiencing higher than normal overstock returns, which is not surprising in this market.” Both direct and indirect costs are hitting the bottom line at the Jefferson, N.C.-based publisher. Higher fuel costs are forcing up the price of paper and shipping.
.. To weather these difficult economic times, McFarland is focused on selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities, .. UNQUOTE.
Perhaps McFarland have decided to change its previous direction by publishing in areas other than “reference works and scholarly monographs” – is it as simple as “Any port in a storm”? I did invite McFarland and Co. to comment prior to publishing this article but had no response.
The first two parts of this series of articles has looked at the motives for the involvement in such a poorly understood field as global climate processes and drivers of two well-known publishers in the UK and the USA. The final part of this series of articles will look at the motives of the mainstream media.
1) see http://www.jacketflap.com/persondetail.asp?person=63215
2) see http://www.wnc.edu/directory/ucarlson/
3) see http://system.nevada.edu/Board-of-R/Meetings/Agendas/March-2010/Academic--/ref-ARSA-10a.pdf
4) see http://www.nevadaappeal.com/article/20100630/NEWS/100629568
5) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Kolbert
6) see http://www.nevadaappeal.com/article/20100922/NEWS/100929957/1001&parentprofile=1
7) see http://www.allbookstores.com/Trails-Historic-New-Mexico-Routes/9780786440108
8) see http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=6171
9) see http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/NilsAxelMornerinterview.pdf
10) see http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202007/MornerInterview.pdf
11) see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jefferson-NC/McFarland-Company-Inc-Publishers/68068646584#!/event.php?eid=78553723359&ref=mf
12) see http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/about.html & http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/authors.html
13) see http://www.bookbusinessmag.com/article/a-struggling-economy-changing-market-challenge-publishers-119081/1#utm_source=bookbusinessmag.com&utm_medium=search_results_page&utm_campaign=search_result