Hot Air by Peter Stott [9/10]

The heroes of today are not muscle-bound gladiators but the committed climate scientists wrestling with humanity’s greatest scientific problem: how fast is our planet warming and what will the consequences be? Regrettably, with some notable exceptions, scientists are self-effacing and reluctant to step into the limelight. Despite all the intellectual and political dramas swirling around climate change over the past decades, very few of our geeky exemplars have told their stories. Now, we have one rousing story, namely ”Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial,” penned by esteemed British climate scientist Peter Stott. Covering his personal journey from a first nervous international conference appearance in 1996; through vital roles at Kyoto (where he met his first pseudoscientific savager, the now-ignominious Fred Singer, “a squat man with twinkling eyes); Shanghai; Trieste; Paris; a London court case; Hobart; Stockholm; to the present day. My heart was in my mouth as I read about Stott’s horrific 2004 experience in Moscow at a fake scientific conference cooked up by Putin. His tale of the infamous stolen emails of 2009 is riveting and scarcely believable as to how vicious the nonsense claims were. I noted how often, despite Stott’s great scientific stature, he describes nerves before major talks or papers, a sign of humility. Only at the end, after a quarter of a century in the trenches, was Stott able to express some cautious optimism. Smoothly written in approachable, clear prose, plotted capably, and fervent throughout, Hot Air is a triumph of modern heroic storytelling. Buy and read, please.

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