Reading one good text book on climate science can save 100’s of hours of reading rubbish on the internet. And there is a lot (of rubbish). Well-meaning people without the baggage of any knowledge of the subject writing rubbish, then repeated by other well-meaning people.
Text books cost money. But depending on which country you live in and whether you have an income, the “payback” means that not buying it is like working for $1/hr. That assumes reading rubbish isn’t a hobby for you..
And depending on where you live you can often join a university library as an “outsider” for anything ranging from $100/year up – and borrow as many books as you like.
Learning can be like a drug. In which case, other justifications aren’t necessary, you have to feed the habit regardless. So pawn family jewelery, sell your furniture, etc. Well, as an addict you already know the drill..
Just some ideas.
Global Physical Climatology – by Dennis Hartmann
Academic Press (1994)
Why am I recommending such an old book? This covers the basics very thoroughly. When someone covers a lot of subjects there is inevitably a compromise. To cover each of the subjects “properly” would be 4,000 pages or 40,000 pages – not 400 pages. What I like about Hartmann:
a) very readable
b) very thorough
c) enough detail to feel like you understand the basics without drowning in maths or detail.
Maths is the language of science, and inevitably there is some maths. But without any maths you can still learn a lot.
Now, a few samples..
From Chapter 4:
From chapter 11:
As you can see, there is some maths, but if you are maths averse you can mostly “punch through” and still get 80% instead of the full 100%.
Elementary Climate Physics by Prof. F.W. Taylor
Oxford University Press (2005)
bookdepository.co.uk for $44 with FREE shipping lots of places in the world, unbelievable but true.
Amazon has it for $60 plus shipping.
This is an excellent book with more radiative physics than Hartmann, but also more maths generally. For example, in the derivation of the lapse rate there is some assumed knowledge. That’s par for the course with textbooks. They are written with an audience in mind. The audience in mind here is people who already have a decent knowledge of physics, but not of climate.
However, even with a tenuous grasp of physics you will get a lot out of this book. Here’s the downside though – quite some maths:
Well, he is teaching physics.
A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation – Grant Petty
Sundog Publishing 2006
Amazon from $48
Thanks to DeWitt Payne for recommending this book, which is excellent. This is the best place to start understanding radiation in the atmosphere. Goody & Yung 1989 is comprehensive and detailed – but not the right starting point.
Radiative physics is no walk in the park. There is no way to make it astoundingly simple. But Petty does a great job of making it five times easier than it should be:
Now onto “not climate science”:
An Introduction to Thermal Physics – Daniel Schroeder
Published by different companies in different countries.
A book that is nothing to do with climate science, but quite brilliant in explaining very hard stuff – heat and statistical thermodynamics – so it sounds really easy. Not many people can explain hard subjects so they sound easy. Most textbooks writers make slightly difficult stuff sound incomprehensible until after you understand it – at which point you don’t need the textbook.
It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized that Statistical Thermodynamics was actually interesting and useful.
The Inerrancy of Textbooks?
Are textbooks without error and without flaw?
So what’s the point then?
The people who write textbooks usually have 20+ years of study in that field behind them. And until such time as E&E start a line of textbooks, the publishers of textbooks, with their own reputation to protect, only ask people who have a solid background in that field to write a textbook.
So even if you are intent on demonstrating that climate science has no idea about basic physics – how are you going to do this?
You could follow the path of many other brave bloggers and commenters who write about the “paltry understanding” of climate science without actually knowing anything about climate science.
But if you choose to do it the old-fashioned way then you should at least find out what climate science says.