When confronted with global warming facts do you believe in science or spin?
Michael E. Mann, creator of the "hockey stick" graph that illustrates
recent rapid rises in global temperatures, is to publish a book next
month detailing the "disingenuous and cynical" methods used by those who
have tried to disprove his findings. The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars is a startling depiction of a scientist persecuted for trying to tell the truth.
the tactics used against Mann were the theft and publication, in 2009,
of emails he had exchanged with climate scientist Professor Phil Jones
of East Anglia University. Selected, distorted versions of these emails
were then published on the internet in order to undermine UN climate
talks due to begin in Copenhagen a few weeks later. These negotiations
ended in failure. The use of those emails to kill off the climate talks
was "a crime against humanity, a crime against the planet," says Mann, a
scientist at Penn State University.
In his book, Mann warns that
"public discourse has been polluted now for decades by corporate-funded
disinformation – not just with climate change but with a host of health,
environmental and societal threats." The implications for the planet
are grim, he adds.
Mann became a target of climate deniers' hate
because his research revealed there has been a recent increase of almost
1°C across the globe, a rise that was unprecedented "during at least
the last 1,000 years" and which has been linked to rising emissions of
carbon dioxide from cars, factories and power plants. Many other studies
have since supported this finding although climate change deniers still
reject his conclusions.
Mann's research particularly infuriated deniers after it was used prominently by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
in one of its assessment reports, making him a target of right-wing
denial campaigners. But as the 46-year-old scientist told the Observer,
he only entered this research field by accident. "I was interested in
variations in temperatures of the oceans over the past millennium. But
there are no records of these changes so I had to find proxy measures:
coral growth, ice cores and tree rings."
By studying these he
could trace temperature fluctuations over the past 1,000 years, he
realised. The result was a graph that showed small oscillations in
temperature over that period until, about 150 years ago, there was a
sudden jump, a clear indication that human activities were likely to be
involved. A colleague suggested the graph looked like a hockey stick and
the name stuck. The results of the study were published in Nature in 1998. Mann's life changed for ever.
trouble is that the hockey stick graph become an icon and deniers
reckoned if they could smash the icon, the whole concept of global
warming would be destroyed with it. Bring down Mike Mann and we can
bring down the IPCC, they reckoned. It is a classic technique for the
deniers' movement, I have discovered, and I don't mean only those who
reject the idea of global warming but those who insist that smoking
doesn't cause cancer or that industrial pollution isn't linked to acid
A barrage of intimidation was generated by "a Potemkin
village" of policy foundations, as Mann puts it. These groups were set
up by privately-funded groups that included Koch Industries and Scaife
Foundations and bore names such as the Cato Institute, Americans for
Prosperity and the Heartland Institute. These groups bombarded Mann with
freedom of information requests while the scientist was served with a
subpoena by Republican congressman Joe Barton to provide access to his
correspondence. The purported aim was to clarify issues. The real aim
was to intimidate Mann.
In addition, Mann has been attacked by Ken
Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general of Virginia who has
campaigned to have the scientist stripped of academic credentials.
Several committees of inquiry have investigated Mann's work. All have
Michael E. Mann is a member of the Penn State University faculty,
holding joint positions in the Departments of Meteorology and
Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (ESSI). He
is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).
He received his undergraduate degrees in physics and applied math from
the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in physics from
Yale University, and a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale
University. He also received an outstanding publication award from the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and, in 2002, was named
one of fifty leading visionaries in science and technology by Scientific American.
He was awarded the 2012 Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences
Union, and in the same year was inducted as a Fellow of the American
Geophysical Union. With Lee Kump, he coauthored the book Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming,
and is a cofounder and avid contributor to the award-winning science
website, www.RealClimate.org. Along with other scientists who
participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he
jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
It's widely documented that climate change is causing the Greenland and
Antarctic ice sheets to shrink. Air temperatures in many parts of the
polar regions have increased and waters that surround parts of the ice
sheets have warmed up. What most do not know is that until just six
years ago, we had no real way of measuring whether the ice sheets were
shrinking or growing, or at what rate.
All the data is available from NASA at
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