Book Reviews

Praise By Both Scientist and Layperson


The Scientists:

*****An essential book on the environmental impacts of "climate change"
By Michael P on August 19, 2016

These days, I rarely read books cover to cover, because I tire of either the style, the subject matter, or the author's approach to the latter before I finish. I did read this one entirely, however. Not in a long time have I felt as enlightened and as entertained at the same time. Jim Steele has gone through a vast amount of literature, and he has managed to distill it into a highly readable yet profound contribution to the debate on environmentalism and on climate change.

As an academic who tries (not always successfully) to practice sound science himself, it is clear to me that Steele is a "scientist's scientist" -- thorough and fair to the bone, not resting until he has looked at a complex problem from every angle; faithfully following the evidence wherever it may lead; presenting each argument in keeping with Einstein's motto "as simple as possible, but not simpler"; giving credit where credit is due, even to those people who on the whole confound rather than clarify the issues; and doing all this with a lifetime of learning and experience under his belt.

Steele carefully and vividly explains how natural climate variations up- and down-regulate the throughput of food chains and the success of animal species that depend on them. With one alleged victim of climate change after another -- from pikas, penguins and polar bears to whales -- he thoroughly dismantles the so-called science that blames each and every worrisome observation on man-made climate change, and he explains the true causes, natural and man-made, of their travails.

The book is self-published, and this shows it in some of its technical aspects. There is no index, and the text retains some typos and other minor errors. The graphs, while readable, have low resolution and thus are not particularly visually appealing. However, these minor blemishes don't change the fact that this is an important and deeply satisfying book. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to truly understand the environmental impacts of "climate change".


*****Matt Ridley author of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters  writes, "An excellent book. I am very impressed. You have done a huge amount of careful research and presented it very clearly. Especially on the Parmesan butterfly study, and on the Arctic issues, you have seen right through some shockingly poor science"


***** Biological and other facts of "climate change", by ANTERO JARVINEN  University of Helsinki

"Landscapes & cycles" is a splendid book! It provides many illuminating examples that "global warming/climate change" is a very complex phenomenon. Natural variability and degradation of habitats often explain alarming "trends" in nature. I enjoyed it tremendously! Antero Jarvinen

***** Addressing environmental change at a human scale, by 

Dr. James Kelley, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, San Francisco State University 1975?2001; President, California Academy of Sciences, 1981?1993.

This book provides an excellent introduction to a number of environmental issues and how concerned individuals might actually address them in their own lives. Rather than worrying about global averages of metrics like sea level or temperature, Steele discusses what is actually happening at the scales at which we, and other inhabitants of the biosphere experience our environment. Changes in global sea level are not what is important--it is the local change that matters because sea level does not rise monotonically worldwide. Recent work published in Nature (15 August, 2013) shows that global temperature variability is not increasing, even though there are significantly changing regional patterns. It is important to distinguish between these scales of variability if we are to address the changes effectively. Steele's book provides exactly the sort of information that we need to understand these distinctions and I believe it is the first to do so. Read entire comment…


*** A Climate of Controversy by  Dr. Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis

1. Climate is exceedingly complex. The empirical evidence does indeed support the notion that climatic change is "lumpily" distributed over the planet. This is not inconsistent with our understanding of the planet's heat budget and how redistribution of energy works, but the models are still crude and surprises are common and to be expected….


2. The case against CO2 is strong, but not impervious to criticism. However, the mention of natural cyclic phenomena raises the very important point of levels of causality. While many active phenomena, some of a very alarming nature, may be tied causally to things like ENSO or the decadal oscillations, that merely pushes back one causal level the question of whether the behavior of those cycles is being altered by changes in the planet's heat budget (for example, are destructive tropical cyclones becoming more frequent or not? A reasonable case can be made that they should be. But are they? It's mid-October and the Atlantic hurricane season has been one of the quietest on record--and the computer models predicted nothing remotely like that. This is a dramatic reminder that there are many things we do not understand about climate)……

I know for a fact that Steele is largely right about pikas and some published butterfly work (but NOT all). But I also know that the subject does not rise or fall on those studies. Do not read this book simply to stoke your prejudices--I don't think the author would want that. You might, however, read it to challenge your views on "global warming" and see how well they survive its sustained, if somewhat confusing, attack on multiple fronts.  Read entire comment…


***** Reality and Perspective by Jason Kelley, geologists and naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

 Jim Steele's very well researched and referenced book is a must have for those interested in the climate debate. It is well written and the logic and thought arguments are clear and well crafted. I have been working professionally as a geologist and educator in the high latitudes, from 82 degrees north to 68 degrees south, for over 20 years. I have seen changes during that time in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The popular explanation has always been that any change is negative, even if it is actually benefiting ecosystems and the lifeforms within them. Landscapes & Cycles does an excellent job of explaining how natural variability in climate systems can account for the changes seen at the poles, and elsewhere. I recommend this book for anyone wanting the tools and scientific literature to refute the ever present argument: Climate change is anthropogenic and begins and ends with the production of carbon dioxide. The earths spheres of influence upon climate are many (geosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and these all interact with the atmosphere. The climate change debate could include all of them, but has been reduced to one constituent gas in one rhelm. The earth's climate is simply not that simple, and Jim Steel's book explains why. Read entire comment…



Layperson comments…..


*** Steele as Treasure
By B. Hutchinson January 1, 2016

Add the name Jim Steele to your short list (like – Steve McIntyre) of people with an amazing capability to organize facts logically, and get their minds around immense quantities of data. In Steele’s case, over a vast range of ecological issues, he mentions where the data leads (locally), and indicates how certain bad-actors are prone to preempt discussions along a preconceived, globally-irrelevant path (special pleading; if not intentionally misleading).


*****  This is a book that should be read--and recommended--by every environmentalistJuly 22, 2014

Raymond M. Cash "bikesrbest" (San Francisco, CA) 

I've learned a lot from this book:

1) Climate change cannot be reduced to one, or even a few reasons.
2) Scientists are fallible; can and do follow their biases--and career opportunities.
3) Bad science, however well-intentioned, does exist.
4) There are much more productive ways to help our environment--and adapting to it--than vilifying oil companies and laggard governments.

Climate change has become a media darling, and for good reason: If our changing weather patterns can be reduced to one cause, our simplified news sources can always use a good sound byte--and who doesn't like to talk about the weather? If we can turn this into a political issue, all the more simple! We know all-too-well the two sides that will line up against each other. It can be a whole branch of the entertainment industry!

But Mr. Steele does not fall into this trap, and his thorough, documented, heavily footnoted, and illustrative evidence comes from an environmentalist well-schooled in the scientific method, not from an oil industry shill. The book begins with his own epiphany: A once thriving meadow that he and his students were studying for years had dried up. Mr. Steele's bias at the time was to blame climate change, but a little research into California's climate history showed no such trend (though California does have climate cycles of drought and heavy rain dictated by the Pacific Ocean and its cycles--he goes into this in great detail). Yes, the meadow's lifelessness was due to man-made causes, but a little local, hard-work restored the watershed by removing an old sunken railroad track that altered the landscape and ecosystem. Such a small-scale observation! What about our large scale industrial farming; continued rain forest decimation; over-fishing of the oceans? Yes, these are also CO2 culprits, but could these factors be a bigger threat than the more often blamed sources (coal, oil) of CO2 emissions, I thought?

Mr. Steele's book is not full of such conjecture; the bulk of it is research and critical examination of many scientific studies that support the current bias of man-made climate change: The seminal 1996 butterfly study by Dr. Camille Parmesan is a real eye-opener! There are chapters on pikas, penguins, frogs, walruses, whales, seals, and polar bears. In all, Mr. Steele questions their methods, deliberate exclusion of data, and documents contradictory studies. He also rightfully points out that wildlife react to local changes in the environment, not necessarily global ones--the latter being much harder to prove, unless we are talking about a catastrophic extinction event. . . It is evident all is not well in the 'peer review' department of these studies.

There is some finger-pointing at climate scientists--and the ever present blogs--of 'not playing fair'; of being too loose with the facts; of exclusion of meaningful contradictory data; in short, of preventing honest debate. This is to be expected, and more importantly, needs to be said. I think, however, Mr. Steele is very cautionary and fair, and gives most scientists the benefit of the doubt.

Woven throughout the book is an elucidation of climate patterns: Within and above the oceans, the arctic, glaciers, the tropics, in our industrialized landscapes--both urban and farmed. Solar patterns, ice ages, little ice ages are revealed. Tree-ring data, long the reliable thermometer of climate change through the ages, contradicts CO2 theory. . . The famous 'hockey-stick' spike in CO2 as documented and popularized in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" does not even show up in the tree-ring studies, so they are 'conveniently' ignored. . . by some; that is, not Mr. Steele.

This is a book that should be read--and recommended--by every environmentalist, lover of the scientific method and nature: In short, by every thinking person.


***** An Eye Opener, by Birdman -


"Landscapes & Cycles" is a thought-inspiring read. It will broaden your horizons and your understanding of natural phenomena. It invites one to vet attention-getting statements of journalists and politicians, and to think critically about how to be a better steward of our environment. Undeniably the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been climbing ever since humans began slashing and burning the forests. Undeniably carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas. But as a primary driver of putative global warming its impact is evidently being greatly exaggerated. Steele instructively lays out the empirical evidence of many other forces of nature that are driving our earthly climate, forces which far overpower any effects of greenhouse gasses. He makes a strong case for open discussion by a diversity of intelligent people to dig beyond apparent statistical correlations and to prize out true cause and effect, and in the meantime to apply more resources where they can be most effective - to local habitat restoration. Read entire comment…


***** Clear, lucid, and understandable to the layman, by David Hoopman

Better than most works on the subject, which tend to assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader, Steele's very readable book makes clear the workings of natural weather and climate processes, in turn making clear the extent to which global warming alarmism is based on opportunistic hype and the relentless pursuit of a political--not a scientific--agenda. Read entire comment…


***** A Book For The Open Minded Thinking Person, by Long Time Outdoors Woman -

 I chose this book because I am a curious naturalist who has often wondered how "global warming" could be defined by one number, the "average" global temperature and how it could be caused almost exclusively by a single factor, the rising concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. After reading "Landscapes and Cycles: an Environmentalist's Journey to Climate Skepticism", I am convinced that Jim Steele's view of climate change caused by multiple factors, including naturally occurring cycles between warmth and cold in the world's oceans and changes in land use on a local scale, are a much more realistic explanation than the prevailing hypothesis.

The author presents volumes of data from actual weather station records that show average temperatures declining over recent decades in many places. He also documents his points with chart after chart supporting his conclusions. He also explains how and why climate scientists manipulate data to smooth out irregularities, sometimes with sound statistical justification, sometimes not.

Steele is not a denier of climate change; he simply argues for a wider, more realistic, multifaceted scientific basis for it. He quotes the work of top researchers at renowned universities world wide to buttress his conclusions.

Most disconcerting to me is the fact that so many U S government funded climate policy groups, professional scientific organizations and respected publications have done such a poor job of peer review. The basic principles of scientific investigation and reporting are being ignored in a rush to judgement.

Read entire comment…



***** CO2/Global Warming Debate Closed?, by John McCormick

 Jim Steele has authored a very readable book regarding the concerns that he shares with many respected climatologist and scientist in related fields have with the direct connection between the increase of atmospheric CO2, its impact on Global Warming, and the predicted demise of several animal species, i.e. Polar Bears. In fact, is there really "Global" warming? The author is concerned that unscientific attempts have been made--urged on by sensationalized media reports--to deem CO2/Global Warming as a fait accompli, and to marginalize, if not completely stifle any scientific debate on the topic. Mr. Steele points out what can only be described as glaring inconsistent, if not outright manipulated data, being used to support the CO2/Global Warming bias. All the author's is contentions in this regard are supported with copious graphs that contradict accept Global Warming views, and explains how machination of statistics have been used to foster the CO2/Global Warming bias. Mr. Steele points out how natural cycles, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation among many others, better fits the current climatological trend. In fact, the data of the past 10 years is causing a certain amount of angst among the leading proponents of Global Warming as they squirm to make the data fit their predictions. Perhaps Mr. Steele's strongest point is that the obsession with Global Warming will have an unfair impact on funding for local environmental projects as these efforts have had a significant and direct impact on the survival of plant and animal species. Read entire comment…


***** A critical piece of the climate discussion, by Amy White

Make no mistake: This is not a denier manifesto. On the contrary, this book is a compilation of thousands of hours of research -- hands-on by Mr. Steele as well as his analyses of scores of others' research -- that underscores the critical need to avoid a pat, one-size-fits-all explanation for possible climate changes. He answers the simplistic rising-CO2/weather change proponents with researched responses from agencies and individuals. Mr. Steele teaches about the enormous and often decades- or even centuries-long climate trends that directly affect our local weather, such as the very complex interaction of the El Nino-La Nina Oscillation and global zones of high pressure.

He says, "Good stewards of the environment are compelled to engage in good science". He cites his own direct research at the San Francisco State University's Sierra Nevada Field Campus, and shows that often we can help the environment the most by getting out of the way of natural cycles. He says, "If humans truly want to help the environment, help wildlife, and improve local climate, [then] restoring watersheds and natural stream flow will provide far greater benefits than trying to control CO2 levels". This book does the greatest service possible to us non-scientists: It empowers us with the understanding of how our comparatively small individual efforts can truly change the world. Read entire comment…


*****  Jim Steele's journey to climate skepticism is a great read. The stories are compelling and illustrated for ..., December 29, 2014 By Andres Valencia "ARVAL" (Key Biscayne, Florida United States) 
Jim Steele's journey to climate skepticism is a great read. The stories are compelling and illustrated for both scientists and general public. The documentation is extensive. Some minor typos don't distract too much.

***** Lanscapes & Cycles,  by william harnach

Mr. Steele has written, at the least, a thought provoking book in "Landscape and Cycles" . Throughout the pages he has validly argued that the politics of climate change is biased toward the paradigm of "CO2" as the root of all evil which will lead to the great apocalypse and the destruction of mankind.

His premise is that the local landscape changes as well as the multitude of cycles found in nature have a profound effect on both the common and endangered species of any area. Each chapter discusses a poster child of the climate change set, be it a butterfly, penguin, frog or polar bear, and reviews the good science, bad science and the sins of omission behind each icon.

 This is a thinking persons book, extremely well researched and a must read for those who want to know what true science is really about.

So take the time and read it, no matter your point of view. He has made himself vulnerable to the slings and arrows of the climate change / CO2 crowd and that shows courage on his part. He may be right, he may be wrong and we probably will not know for at least a decade. But he has shown greater courage than the majority of people when he published this book. Read entire comment…


***** Solid, common sense book, by RW Cook

A great book for someone that wants to look at the science of various phenomena that gets lumped as another global warming result. The author's home turf is the Sierra Nevada but he looks at various cases - butterflies, pikas, fish kills, all explained by local issues. As the author points out in his observations, landscape science trumps global science, environmental science is local, not global. Many interesting observations in this book. Often things attributed to global warming occur in places that are not even warming. He also addresses the deceit, suppression and obfuscation of Mann, Jones et al from an historical perspective and strongly advocates open scientific debate rather than the personal attacks that are occurring now. I recommend this to anyone that wants to dig in to the common sense science, away from the politics that stir the current debate. Read entire comment…




***** Got me thinking., October 9, 2013

By M.Eccleston


I'm an old machinist that has been complaining for years that global warming hasn't reached my cool Nor Cal town, yet. Professor Steele's research has me thinking. No good can come from increasing any pollution to no end, but there is clearly room for honest debate before we create more havoc based on the current evidence or propaganda for CO2 caused global warming. Good job Professor Steele. You've laid it on line. I will be counting polar bears and checking the thermometer. I hope there are many more sincere scientists than political scientists, but I will sail slowly near the horizon, just in case. Read entire comment…


***** Bad climate alarmism includes bad biology - surprise! By Richard C. Savage "luckyleif"

I rate this book highly because it reveals so much about the bad biology included in alarmists' claims about "climate change." As a meteorologist, I recognize the nonsense in the distorted physics offered by alarmists, but I have little or no expertise in biology. Mr. Steele's book makes the lazy and incomplete science offered by persons like Camille Parmesan - an IPCC star - very apparent. Chapter 6, "Saving the Large Blue Butterfly", is an eye-opening example. The Working Group 2 reports are thoroughly contaminated by her malign insistence on finding a "climate footprint in the overall patterns."

Working Group 1 (Physical Science) has never been able to find a "human fingerprint" in climate change due to a CO2 effect on radiative transfer through the atmosphere. In desperation, the IPCC has turned to emotion-laden claims of threatened polar bears and vanishing pikas, which this book ably contradicts. Well done, Mr. Steele. Read entire comment…


***** Landscapes and cycles, by Mike T.

 Jim spent some time researching this book, coupled with his knowledge of our environment makes it a must read. Climate change will be a topic of conversation for years and this book goes a long ways towards making the conversation informed.