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

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ISBN-10: 0262013924

ISBN-13: 9780262013925

Edition: 2010

Authors: Paul N. Edwards

List price: $33.00
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Description:

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 MachinePaul Edwards has news for these doubters: 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. Edwards argues that all our knowledge about climate change comes from three kinds of computer models: simulation models of weather and climate; reanalysis models, which recreate climate history from historical weather data; and data models, used to combine and adjust measurements from many different sources. Meteorology creates knowledge through an infrastructure (weather stations and other data platforms) that covers the whole world, making global data. This infrastructure generates information so vast in quantity and so diverse in quality and form that it can be understood only by computer analysis—making data global. Edwards describes the science behind the scientific consensus on climate change, arguing that over the years data and models have converged to create a stable, reliable, and trustworthy basis for the reality of global warming.
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Book details

List price: $33.00
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 3/12/2010
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 552
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.50" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.936
Language: English

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.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Thinking Globally
Global Space, Universal Time: Seeing the Planetary Atmosphere
Standards and Networks: International Meteorology and the R�seau Mondial
Climatology and Climate Change before World War II
Friction
Numerical Weather Prediction
The Infinite Forecast
Making Global Data
The First WWW
Making Data Global
Data Wars
Reanalysis: The Do-Over
Parametrics and the Limits of Knowledge
Simulation Models and Atmospheric Politics, 1960–1992
Signal and Noise: Consensus, Controversy, and Climate Change
Conclusion
Notes
Index