By BILL KOVARIK
In 2006, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth dominated The New York Times best seller list. But in 2007, Glenn Beck's swaggering rebuttal, An Inconvenient Book, topped the same list with the idea that climate change is "the greatest scam in history."
While Beck's book has little chance of outselling Gore's book over the long run, the paradox illustrates a larger problem in the environmental publishing industry: serious science is a hard sell.
Joseph Romm, author of the 2006 book Hell and High Water, worried in a Grist post a few months ago that the deniers "are winning the war of words."
So, how true is that? How are those 2007 climate books doing? We checked the Amazon sales ranks and the LexisNexus newspaper hits and TV mentions.We came up with the following list. It seems that Romm is partly right – climate deniers are still getting a lot of attention. But the picture is mixed.
One thing to notice is that the skeptics and contrarians may be selling more books, but they aren't getting as much media attention as scientifically oriented authors. The sustained discussion seems to be taking place around the actual science rather than the debunkers of science. Beck, Lomberg, Singer and others seem to be appealing to a shallow audience pool.
CLIMATE BOOKS 2007
(For Amazon sales ranks, low numbers are best; for Lexis- Nexis newspaper and transcript mentions, high numbers are best.)
BOOKS BY SKEPTICS AND CONTRARIANS:
Glenn Beck, An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems. (119 Amazon, 196 newspapers, 230 TV transcripts)
Bj.rn Lomborg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to GlobalWarming (1,377Amazon, 19 newspaper reviews, 9 TV transcripts)
Fred Singer, Unstoppable GlobalWarming: Every 1,500 Years (3,267 Amazon, 82 newspaper reviews, 2 TV transcripts) Henrik Svensmark, The Chilling Stars: The New Theory of Climate Change (19,305 Amazon, 6 newspaper reviews, 0 TV transcripts)
SCIENCE-BASED CLIMATE BOOKS:
Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth (2006 book, Feb. 2008 rank) (4,097 Amazon, Tens of thousands of reviews and transcripts; too many to count)
David de Rothschild, The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook: 77 Essential Skills To Stop Climate Change (14,906 Amazon, 30 newspaper reviews, 31 TV transcripts)
George Monbiot and Matthew Prescott, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (21,528 Amazon, 8 newspaper, 1 TV)
Jay Inslee and BrackenHendricks, Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy (22,247Amazon, 151 reviews, 7 TV)
Chris Mooney, Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle over Global Warming (43,906 Amazon, 48 newspaper reviews, 7 TV )
Eugene Linden, The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations (51,849 Amazon, 48 reviews, 4 TV)G ary Braasch, Earth Under Fire (55,599 Amazon, 13 reviews, 0 TV)
Kerry Emanuel, What We Know About Climate Change (69,685 Amazon, 12 reviews, 0 TV) BillMcKibben, Fight Global Warming Now:The Handbook forTakingAction in YourCommunity (99,735Amazon, 22 reviews, 1TV)
Jonathan Isham and Sissel Waage, eds., Ignition: What You Can Do to Fight Global Warming and Spark a Movement (107,596 Amazon, 20 reviews, 0 TV)
John D. Cox, Climate Crash: Abrupt Climate Change and What ItMeans for Our Future (122,960Amazon, 3 reviews, 0 TV)
Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela M. Doughman, eds., Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren (143,681 Amazon, 1 review, 0 TV)
Mayer Hillman, The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe (603,000 Amazon, 0 newspapers, 0 TV)
WINTER 2008 CLIMATE BOOKS IN PRINT:
Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd Edition (Amazon, 31,480)
Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change (Amazon 32,000)
Bill Kovarik, an SEJ board member, teaches environmental journalism at Radford University.
** From SEJ's quarterly newsletter SEJournal, Spring 2008 issue