Paul N. Edwards: A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (2010)

31 October 2012, dusan

“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 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.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2010
Infrastructures Series
ISBN 0262013924, 9780262013925
xxvii+518 pages

Reviews: Noel Castree (American Scientist, 2010), Ronald E. Doel (American Historical Review, 2011), Myles Allen (Nature, 2010), Richard C.J. Somerville (Science, 2011), Gabriele Gramelsberger (Minerva, 2012), McKenzie Wark (White Review, 2014).


PDF, PDF (updated on 2018-11-4)
Companion website (added on 2018-11-4)

Timothy Morton: The Ecological Thought (2010)

18 September 2010, dusan

“In this book, Timothy Morton argues that all forms of life are connected in a vast, entangling mesh. This interconnectedness penetrates all dimensions of life. No being, construct, or object can exist independently from the ecological entanglement, Morton contends, nor does “Nature” exist as an entity separate from the uglier or more synthetic elements of life. Realizing this interconnectedness is what Morton calls the ecological thought.

In three chapters, Morton investigates the philosophical, political, and aesthetic implications of the fact that all life forms are interconnected. As a work of environmental philosophy and theory, The Ecological Thought explores an awareness of ecological reality in an age of global warming. Using Darwin and contemporary discoveries in life sciences as root texts, Morton describes a mesh of interconnected life forms—intimate, strange, and lacking fixed identity.”

Publisher Harvard University Press, 2010
ISBN 0674049209, 9780674049208
178 pages

Reviews: Gratton (Speculations, response), Coupe (Times Higher Education, response by Bryant), Hengstebeck (specs, 2011), Holmes (Journal of Ecocriticism, 2012), Watson (Interstitial, 2013), Muecke (Los Angeles Review of Books, 2014).

Author’s blog

PDF (updated on 2012-10-31)

Manuel Castells: Communication Power (2009)

6 May 2010, dusan

We live in the midst of a revolution in communication technologies that affects the way in which people feel, think, and behave. The mass media (including web-based media), Manuel Castells argues, has become the space where political and business power strategies are played out; power now lies in the hands of those who understand or control communication.

Over the last thirty years, Castells has emerged as one of the world’s leading communications theorists. In this, his most far-reaching book for a decade, he explores the nature of power itself, in the new communications environment. His vision encompasses business, media, neuroscience, technology, and, above all, politics. His case histories include global media deregulation, the misinformation that surrounded the invasion of Iraq, environmental movements, the role of the internet in the Obama presidential campaign, and media control in Russia and China. In the new network society of instant messaging, social networking, and blogging–“mass self-communication”–politics is fundamentally media politics. This fact is behind a worldwide crisis of political legitimacy that challenges the meaning of democracy in much of the world.

Publisher Oxford University Press, 2009
ISBN 0199567042, 9780199567041
Length 571 pages

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