An Appeal to Reason

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An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming
Cover An Appeal to Reason lowres.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorNigel Lawson
CountryUnited Kingdom/United States
PublisherOverlook Duckworth (UK)
The Overlook Press (US)
Publication date
2008-04-10 (UK)
2008-05-29 (US)
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
ISBN978-0-7156-3786-9 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-59020-084-1 (US)

An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming is a 2008 book by Nigel Lawson. In it, Lawson argues that global warming is happening, but that the science is far from settled. He opposes the scientific consensus as summarized by the IPCC. He also argues that warming will bring both benefits and negative consequences, and that the impact of these changes will be relatively moderate rather than apocalyptic. He criticizes politicians and scientists who predict catastrophe unless urgent action is taken, and he calls for gradual adaptation instead. The book has been criticized by some climatologists, including IPCC authors Jean Palutikof and Robert Watson.[1]


This book is an expansion on Lawson’s 2006 lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies,[2] called "The Economics and Politics of Climate Change. An Appeal to Reason" [3] As explained in the introduction, the aim of the book is to examine each of the dimensions of the global warming issue, including the science, the economics, both from the perspective of long-term forecasting and cost-effectiveness analysis, the politics, and the ethical aspect. The book begins by arguing that "the science of global warming is far from settled."[4] Although Lawson accepts that warming is real, he questions the validity of global climate models. Specifically, he highlights the lack of falsifiability of their predictions and the fact that all models failed to predict that there has been no further warming between 2001 and 2007. He also questions if indeed the sole cause of the warming is man-made CO2 and how great that contribution is. Lawson raises several issues regarding the IPCC process and its findings, including the Hockey stick controversy, and criticizes the Stern Report. After the introduction, the remainder of the book proceeds under the assumption that the IPCC majority view is correct.

Lawson then examines how much warming will occur and what are the practical consequences over the next hundred years, based on the 2007 IPCC Report (AR4) scenarios and policy recommendations. The next issue analyzed is the importance of adaptation, what he claims is the IPPC’s most serious flaw regarding the impact of global warming, as there is a "systematic underestimation of the benefits of adaptation" and "the most cost-effective way of addressing the likely consequences" as opposed to reducing CO2 emissions. His next criticism regards the Stern Review, which he claims is "at the extreme end of the alarmist camp". He also critiques the Kyoto Protocol and the practical difficulties of reaching a global agreement. Next, he presents an analysis of the different technologies and market alternatives being implemented and available to reduce emissions, concluding with his proposal of a carbon tax across the board, together with the reduction of other taxes to compensate for the extra revenues. The book closes with a discussion about the discount rates used by the IPCC and the Stern Review in their economic analysis, with a more detailed discussion on the latter. The final chapter summarizes the book, ending with a warning about the dangers of the environmental movement, calling it "the new religion of eco-fundamentalism" and claiming that "we appear to have entered a new age of unreason."[5]

As at 23 May 2010, the British Amazon store ranks "An Appeal to Reason" overall sales as 93,317, and as 30th in the following categories: Earth Sciences & Geography > Meteorology > Global Warming; Environment & Ecology > Pollution > Greenhouse Effect; and Environment & Ecology > Global Warming.[6] and the American Amazon store ranks the book sales as 523,609 overall.[7]

Book reviews[edit]

The book has been reviewed by, amongst others, Nature Reports Climate Change,[8] Literary Review,[9] The Guardian,[10][11] The Spectator,[12] The Daily Telegraph,[13] and the Daily Mail,[14]

Scientific opinion[edit]

James Dent reviewed the book in the Royal Meteorological Society's journal Weather.[15] Robert Watson, the former head of the IPCC and now chief scientist to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, accused Lawson of selective quotation and not understanding "the current scientific and economic debate".[16] He also wrote in a letter to a newspaper: "Lord Lawson's perspective that the UK and Europe are over-reacting to the threat of human-induced climate change is substantially wrong and ignores a significant body of scientific, technological and economic evidence."[1]

Sir John Houghton reported that "Although Lawson makes some worthwhile critiques of energy policy,... his book is largely one of misleading messages." Lawson ignores or misunderstands the science, brushes off economic analysis by the International Energy Agency, and lumps respected scientists with purveyors of nonsense.[8] Jean Palutikof, one of the authors of a new IPCC report, said: "By the time you get past 2050 the winners become fewer and fewer. By 2100, we will be losing almost everywhere."[1] She also said that Lawson's view was "very wrong" when it came to the availability of water.[1]

Scientists from the Met Office's Hadley Centre responded to Lord Lawson's contention that there has been no global warming since 2000, saying this was due to the La Niña cooling event of early 2007.[1][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Clover, Charles (April 15, 2008). "IPCC: Lawson wrong about climate change". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  2. ^ Lawson, Nigel (April 6, 2008). "Lord Lawson claims climate change hysteria heralds a 'new age of unreason'". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  3. ^ Lawson, Nigel (November 1, 2006). "Lecture on the Economics and Politics of Climate Change - An Appeal to Reason". Centre for Policy Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  4. ^ Lawson, Nigel (2008). "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming". The Overlook Press, New York: 5. ISBN 978-1-59020-084-1.
  5. ^ Lawson, Nigel (2008). "op. cit": 104 and 106.
  6. ^ "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (Hardcover)". Retrieved 2010-05-23. Sales Rank: 93,317 as of 2010-05-23[better source needed]
  7. ^ "An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (Hardcover)". Retrieved 2010-05-23. U.S. Sales Rank: #523,609 in Books as of 2010-05-23[better source needed]
  8. ^ a b Houghton, John (19 June 2008). "Full of Hot Air". Nature Reports Climate Change. doi:10.1038/climate.2008.60.
  9. ^ Allister Heath (April 2008). "Pouring on cold water". Literary Review. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  10. ^ Richard Lambert (2008-04-19). "Fuelling the debate on climate change". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  11. ^ Robin McKie (2008-04-20). "Talk about hot air". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  12. ^ Graham Steward (2008-04-08). "No Need To Panic - Probably". The Spectator. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  13. ^ Alasdair Palmer (2008-06-07). "Trying to do something positive about global warming". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  14. ^ Michael Meacher (2008-05-08). "Cold facts on hot air". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  15. ^ Dent, James, WeatherSome thoughts on An Appeal to Reason by Nigel Lawson Volume 65 Issue 2, Page 44
  16. ^ Julian Glover (2008-05-03). "Interview: 'They cheat, I tell you'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  17. ^ David Adam (2008-09-23). "Met Office says climate change deniers deluded". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-28.

External links[edit]