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Chris Mooney Reads from 'Storm World'

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Book Tour is a new Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Chris Mooney's latest book tackles the messy business of science in general — and the uncertain relationship between hurricanes and global warming in particular.

In Storm World, Mooney tells the story of "a largely unsuspecting group of scientists" drawn into a national debate as fierce as any Category 4 storm. The question? Whether climate changes would affect hurricanes — and how.

No matter what the disagreements among scientists are, the author believes the increased strength and number of hyper-storms over the past decade is cause for concern and for action — especially given that so much of the U.S. population lives near the country's coasts. Reviewers have called Storm World proof of the author's ability to transform dry data into something not just readable but riveting.

Mooney, the Washington correspondent for the science glossy Seed, once worked at The American Prospect, where his story warning about New Orleans' vulnerability and "the need to think big about hurricane protection" ran about 100 days before Katrina struck.

Storm World is Mooney's second book dealing with the intersection of politics and scientific inquiry. His bestselling The Republican War Against Science was published in 2005. It's a partisan examination of how George W. Bush's White House distorted or suppressed information on a number of scientific fronts — from mercury pollution to the teaching of evolution — to appeal to the Republican Party's conservative base.

"I used to be something of a fire-breather and something of a troublemaker," Mooney says. "My last book...was a loud cry of outrage, a loud demand for reform."

But Mooney says Storm World is different. It's "less argumentative," he says, and "more personal." When the author visited New Orleans after Katrina in 2005, house after house "looked as though they had been ransacked by the Creature from the Black Lagoon," he writes. "My mother's house was one of these."

This discussion of Storm World took place in July 2007 at the bookstore in Washington, D.C.

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