A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming by Paul Edwards [Book Review]

Apr 30, 2010 | All Categories, Journal Articles

For communication scholars, the oft-cited dynamics of the climate debates are all too familiar: media covering science as a conflict between opposite viewpoints, public relations wars by entrenched interests to sow doubt and uncertainty, and the lenses of political ideology and worldview defining the arc of public perceptions. Science itself at times seems to serve as a bystander to the interplay of these forces. A Vast Machine provides a new perspective on climate discourses in the United States by shedding light on the ways that climate science, and particularly the discipline of computer modeling, have influenced our evolving understanding of—and response to—global climate change. Author Paul Edwards, an associate professor at University of Michigan’s School of Information, says that he often tells his students to ask the question: “How do you know?” The raison d’être for this book is, as he writes, “Everything that we know about the world’s climate—past, present, and future—we know through models.” Within the climate debates, those skeptical of climate science have championed the primacy of observational data over theory… Download the Review Here.