A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming

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MIT Press, Mar 12, 2010 - Technology & Engineering - 552 pages
The science behind global warming, and its history: how scientists learned to understand the atmosphere, to measure it, to trace its past, and to model its future.

Global warming skeptics often fall back on the argument that the scientific case for global warming is all model predictions, nothing but simulation; they warn us that we need to wait for real data, “sound science.” In A Vast Machine Paul Edwards has news for these skeptics: without models, there are no data. Today, no collection of signals or observations—even from satellites, which can “see” the whole planet with a single instrument—becomes global in time and space without passing through a series of data models. Everything we know about the world's climate we know through models. Edwards offers an engaging and innovative history of how scientists learned to understand the atmosphere—to measure it, trace its past, and model its future.

 

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User Review  - kukulaj - LibraryThing

This book hits squarely at the center of my thinking. I have been dreaming of a Buddhist Philosophy of Science. This book works as the foundation. Edwards quotes Harry Collins on the need for a third ... Read full review

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User Review  - jorgearanda - LibraryThing

A comprehensive, informative, and accessible account of the history of the development of climate models, of the infrastructure that sustains them, and of their epistemological underpinnings. Read full review

Contents

1 Thinking Globally
1
Seeing the Planetary Atmosphere
27
International Meteorology and the Réseau Mondial
49
4 Climatology and Climate Change before World War II
61
5 Friction
83
6 Numerical Weather Prediction
111
7 The Infinite Forecast
139
8 Making Global Data
187
11 Data Wars
287
The DoOver
323
13 Parametrics and the Limits of Knowledge
337
14 Simulation Models and Atmospheric Politics 19601992
357
Consensus Controversy and Climate Change
397
Conclusion
431
Notes
441
Index
509

9 The First WWW
229
10 Making Data Global
251

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About the author (2010)

Paul N. Edwards is Professor in the School of Information and the Department of History at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (1996) and a coeditor (with Clark Miller) of Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance (2001), both published by the MIT Press.

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