“Dumb, dumb, dumb” and “a pinch silly”

Posted on | November 5, 2010 | 2 Comments

“Dumb” and “silly” sum up the response last month of Matthew Kahn to my review of his book Climatopolis. Click here for the review and here for the response. Those who questioned Kahn’s choice in Climatopolis of Moscow as one of the more climate change-ready cities will learn that he was not wrong in the book because in his revised estimation last summer’s deadly heat wave leaves Muscovites better versed in disaster. Residents of Salt Lake City may be relieved to learn that they are not in peril of sea level rise, and Antonio Villaraigosa may rest assured that he was not being mocked by the misspelling of his surname; the decision to call the Latino Mayor of Los Angeles “Tony” is left unexplained. The failure of my review to correlate with notices in the British press is offered as evidence that my assessment was unsound. Please note that as a rule the quotation marks in the Kahn text connote the author’s emphasis but are not quotes.

By way of response, I stand by the assessment of the book, which I found flip and shoddy. However I commend Mr Kahn for his constant effort to keep climate change preparedness front and center in civic discourse and, by extension, public policy-making. Ignoring triumphal garbage coming from the newly elected majority in the House of Representatives, climate change cannot be wished away. It would be folly to ignore his central premise, which is that those born into the best prepared societies will indeed inherit the Earth.

To regular readers of this website, my apologies. I am in the packing box stage of a house-move. Sunday’s regular feature “The week that was” is still suspended but will return next week.

*This was updated at 9.40am, 11/6/2010. Details of the Kahn rebuttal were added, along with the postponement notice about “The week that was.”


2 Responses to ““Dumb, dumb, dumb” and “a pinch silly””

  1. Chris Austin
    November 6th, 2010 @ 7:09 am

    Boy, Em, you sure got under his skin!

    I tried to slog through the excerpt that was printed in Scientific American, but couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs, so congrads to you for making it through the whole book.

  2. David Zetland
    November 8th, 2010 @ 4:06 am

    I read his response (where NO COMMENTS ARE ALLOWED) and found him to be totally on the defensive. That review hit hard, but he’s not really embracing your critiques.

    But what’s worse is his “I’m an economist” BS. I’m an economist too, and he doesn’t reach me either. His “predictions” are nothing more than deterministic (Moscow and SLC won’t flood b/c they are FAR FROM THE SEA) or hand-waving (“people will adapt”). Well great. And now what? The WHOLE POINT of the CC debates is that people are NOT changing. How’s Kahn factoring that stuff in?

    Oh, and on sloppy? Check his blog. He hasn’t even fixed the default settings for blogroll, etc.

    Kahn needs to SLOW down and do better work.

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