In its 2001 report on global climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations prominently featured the “Hockey Stick,” a chart showing global temperature data over the past one thousand years. The Hockey Stick demonstrated that temperature had risen with the increase in industrialization and use of fossil fuels. The inescapable conclusion was that worldwide human activity since the industrial age had raised CO2 levels, trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and warming the planet.
The Hockey Stick became a central icon in the “climate wars,” and well-funded science deniers immediately attacked the chart and the scientists responsible for it. Yet the controversy has had little to do with the depicted temperature rise and much more with the perceived threat the graph posed to those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect our environment and planet. Michael E. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the real story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He introduces key figures in the oil and energy industries, and the media front groups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, bare-knuckled ways to cast doubt on the science. Mann concludes with an account of the “Climategate” scandal, the 2009 hacking of climate scientists’ emails. Throughout, Mann reveals the role of science deniers, abetted by an uninformed media, in once again diverting attention away from one of the central scientific and policy issues of our time.
About Michael E. Mann
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 (EESI). 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, RealClimate.org. Along with other scientists who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
The author was an originator of the “Hockey Stick,” a graph showing that average temperatures today are higher than they have been for at least the past 1,000 years, which became an icon of the “climate wars” when published in a 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In 2009, he was among the scientists whose e-mails, hacked and posted online, gave rise to “Climategate.” As a target of critics who deny the reality of climate change, he has been subject to smear campaigns and accusations aimed at discrediting his work. In fact, the validity of his work has been affirmed many times by leading scientists. Despite personal anger, Mann offers a scientist’s factual chronicle of the evolution of the disinformation industry that has challenged climate science. He describes a “virtual Potemkin Village of pseudoscience institutions” including dozens of think tanks, such as the Advancement of Sound Science Center and the George C. Marshall Institute, many of them funded by Koch Industries and the Scaife Foundations, and all working to “introduce some measure of doubt into the public mindset.” Noting connections between the climate-disinformation campaign and past industry-funded efforts to deny the dangers of smoking and other health threats, Mann details the many tools used by deniers: misleading articles, questionable petitions, cherry-picking of documents and one-sided conferences featuring deniers. With their need for controversy, immediacy and “balance” in reporting, even respected media have often “parroted” deniers’ accusations and innuendo, giving credence to their claims. – Kirkus Reviews
Book review: Michael Mann’s ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars’
The Washington Post Book Review – May 25, 2012 (Excerpt)
When it comes to key warriors in America’s battle over the causes of climate change, few rival Pennsylvania State University professor Michael E. Mann. Mann, who directs the Penn State Earth System Science Center, led a 1998 reconstruction of temperature records going back thousands of years and showing that global averages had shot up in recent decades.
Featured in a 2001 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the chart resembled a hockey stick, with the ancient temperatures running along the handle and the latest figures rising sharply at the base. It sparked intense debate over the human contribution to global warming and transformed Mann from a geeky geophysicist into a public fighter in a bruising political and legal war over how to conduct science and public policy.
Much of the industrial and developing world believes that the burning of fossil fuels, and other activities that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases, contribute to climate change; on Friday, the International Energy Agency announced that global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning had reached a record high of 31.6 gigatons in 2011, up 3.2 percent from 2010. A March survey by Gallup shows that 53 percent of Americans attribute global warming to human activity. But in the past three years, some Americans have challenged this view, particularly conservative Republicans, and the political elite is sharply divided. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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