There's no police tape across Michael Mann's office doorway this morning. "Always a good start," he says, juggling a cup of coffee as he slides his key into the lock.
Mann, a paleoclimatologist, wears a sport coat over a turtleneck. As he takes a seat at his desk, a narrow sunbeam angles through the window, spotlighting a jumble of books, journals and correspondence. Behind him, a framed picture of his six-year-old daughter rests near a certificate for the Nobel Peace Prize he shared in 2007. Propped into a corner is a hockey stick, a post-lecture gift from Middlebury College, which Mann jokingly says he keeps "for self-defense."
Mann directs Penn State University's Earth System Science Center. Several months ago, he arrived at his office with an armload of mail. Sitting at his desk, he tore open a hand-addressed envelope and began to pull out a letter. He watched as a small mass of white powder cascaded out of the folds and onto his fingers. Mann jerked backward, letting the letter drop and holding his breath as a tiny plume of particles wafted up, sparkling in the sunlight. He rose quickly and left the office, pulling the door shut behind him. "I went down to the restroom and washed my hands," he says. "Then I called the police."
For someone describing an anthrax scare, Mann is surprisingly nonchalant. "I guess," he says, "it's so much a part of my life that I don't even realize how weird it is."
"Weird" is perhaps the mildest way to describe the growing number of threats and acts of intimidation that climate scientists face. A climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory answered a late-night knock to find a dead rat on his doorstep and a yellow Hummer speeding away. An MIT hurricane researcher found his inbox flooded daily for two weeks last January with hate mail and threats directed at him and his wife. And in Australia last year, officials relocated several climatologists to a secure facility after climate-change skeptics unleashed a barrage of vandalism, noose brandishing and threats of sexual attacks on the scientists' children.
Those crude acts of harassment often come alongside more-sophisticated legal and political attacks. Organizations routinely file nuisance lawsuits and onerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to disrupt the work of climate scientists. In 2005, before dragging Mann and other climate researchers into congressional hearings, Texas congressman Joe Barton ordered the scientists to submit voluminous details of working procedures, computer programs and past funding—essentially demanding that they reproduce and defend their entire life's work. In a move that hearkened back to darker times, Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report in 2010 that named 17 prominent climate scientists, including Mann, who, he argued, may have engaged in "potentially criminal behavior." Inhofe outlined three laws and four regulations that he said the scientists may have violated, including the Federal False Statements Act—which, the report noted, could be punishable with imprisonment of up to five years.
It's late February when I visit Mann in his office, almost two years after Inhofe issued his "list of 17." Though it's still winter in central Pennsylvania, the temperature outside hangs in the upper 60s, crocus stems poke up from flower beds, and shopkeepers have thrown open their doors along College Avenue. Mann is home for three days between conferences in Milwaukee and Hawaii and West Coast stops on a promotional tour for his new book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.
In the late 1990s, Mann developed a graph that demonstrated a recent and dramatic uptick in global mean surface temperatures. The hockey-stick-shaped curve has become emblematic to both sides of the climate debate. To the vast majority of climate scientists, it represents evidence, corroborated by decades of peer-reviewed research, of global warming. To climate-change skeptics, the hockey stick is the most grievous of many illusions fabricated by thousands of conspiring scientists to support an iniquitous political agenda.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included Mann's graph in its Third Assessment Report in 2001. Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim then included it in their 2006 climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The film galvanized both the pro- and contra-climate-science camps, propelling the issue of human-caused global warming into the culture wars—and Mann along with it. "Since then, my life has been crazy," he says. "People have stolen my e-mails and bought billboards and newspaper ads to denounce me; they've staged bogus grassroots protests; they've threatened my family. I've been through eight investigations by everyone from the National Science Foundation to the British House of Commons. Every time, they find no evidence of fraud or misuse of information. Every time, they conclude that my methods are sound, my data replicable. And every time I'm exonerated, another investigation pops up."
Mann has been called a "compulsive liar, a con man and an extraordinary psychological case." Some critics accuse him of masterminding a cabal of scientists that aims to establish a new world order. Still others compare him to Hitler, Stalin and Satan.
At the time of our meeting, Mann was juggling several FOIA requests and two lawsuits—one of which would be resolved the following week, when the Virginia Supreme Court rejected the state attorney general's demand that the University of Virginia (Mann's former employer) turn over the researcher's e-mails and other documents. The university spent nearly $600,000 to argue that releasing personal correspondence would chill academic research. "Yes, there's been a toll on me and my family," Mann says. "But it's bigger than that. Look what it's doing to science, when others see this and see what happens if they speak up about their research. These efforts to discredit science are well-organized. It's not just a bunch of crazy people."
meerkat... clearly your definition of quality of life differs from mine. Yours is concerned with the environment while totally oblivious to human rights. In focusing on the environmental outcome, you clearly demonstrate that you believe the end justifies the means.
My primary concern is the level of freedom and diversity allowed the humans living within that environment. A life of subservience in a pristine environment is not my idea of quality of life.
These ends are not incompatible if the means of achieving them are not oppressive. To my mind, the end IS the means.
Just for example, a freedom solution might be for the believers to pool their resources, build/purchase a solar panel manufacturing plant and hand out free panels to those they feel deserving of them.
In fact, they wouldn't have to be free, just drop the price down to a point where solar energy is competitive with fossil fuels.
What's stopping you? Go for it.
To take this a step further, this would result in a good old fashioned price war, trimming fossil fuel profits while dropping energy prices, thus boosting our industrial base. From your perspective, how is this not a good thing?
The downside is the expenditure of your resources. It requires you to put your money where your mouth is... as opposed to the government based solution, where you put other people's money where your mouth is. And by other people, I am referring to the future generations who will be stuck with the tab.
BTW, tobacco cartels do not pay tobacco taxes, tobacco purchasers pay them. It is government sanctioned theft and nothing more.
meerkat... I visited the link you provided re the opium wars. Perhaps we interpret this differently, but what I am seeing is an example of the utter catastrophic failure of force and the ultimate success of persuasion (assuming we can believe any info coming from China). No doubt there was some force mixed in with the persuasion, but it was clearly the persuasion that did the trick, given that fact that force had already failed.
My solution would have been somewhat different:
Make addictive drugs prescription only. Issue refillable prescriptions to anyone who tests positive. This takes the profit out of drug dealing... and along with it, the incentive to lure people into drug use.
If all addicts have a prescription, the dealers have nobody to sell to so they are out of business. No profits = no pushers.
Since the addicts are able to support their habits at the much lower RX prices, they are far less likely to commit crimes.
From that point, it is all about persuasion and voluntary treatment.
It is much easier to persuade your kids to avoid drugs if there are no pushers seeking drug profits.
Eliminating profits is the key.
I should add that in Iran the penalty for trafficking is death by strangulation. End of problem, right? Wrong. Iran has the highest heroin addiction rate on the planet.
Better to apply force for good than to be weak/inert in the face of things you know to be wrong. Better to be brave, effective and make changes for the good.
Would that be your definition of wrong or mine?... your definition of good or mine?
More to the point... if we disagree, does might make right?
Your morality is to fight back change, including protecting immoral power from change-- that's all you advocate, to maintain existing inertia and to render opposing force inert. It's a simple and amoral recipe that's indifferent to doing the right thing.
If you were to create the best
passive heat sink.
It would have a black and ruff
exterior. With a large dense mass
for a sink. We have built them.
Its like out of an alien movie.
The planets is being Terri formed
by an advance civilization.
Its scope circles the planet many times
With a foot print that now match's
the great deserts of the world.
But unlike a desert with loose strata.
That doesn't transfer or retain heat well.
This one has a highly packed stone base.
That transfers the heat many feet
into the ground. Defeating the natural
insulation that sod and tree cover
Because of its it's color it is well capable
of capturing at least 90% of the suns energy.
This heat being relayed directly into the
ground means that any increase in heat
will take longer to bleed off.
And as demonstrated by the temperature
increases found under the Siberian permafrost.
Its not "global "as in atmospheric
its much worst, the planetoid it self is being
Trace gas fixes to the atmosphere is a red
herring for the public. It will not counter
the heat gain. Which is steadily increasing.
Yes the roads that we build, driveways and
Parking lots are changing the planet.
With the developing Country's now building
Roads ands driveways ..ect.
This is what has to change and should be in
some scientific analyses.
Instead scientist are being used to
promote energy agendas that meddle
with the consumers cost of living.
Giving political weight to unfairly
tax companies and the consumer.
Wake up people !!!
Take this test.
At midday on hot and sunny day.
Take off your shoes and walk in the grass.
Then walk out onto a sun drenched blacktop
driveway or road.
Thats what we are doing to the planet.
The problem is not that the atmosphere
isn't cooling quick enough.
The problem is is that we are trapping
heat more then ever.
Almost all structures now built.
Collect heat including the car.
Think how much road ,driveways, and
parking lots litter the Earth's
surface. It's all HEAT gain.
The green on this planet has shaded
mother Earth for millions of years.
And we strip the ground bare and
lay down black top and stone.
Yours is the morality of 'the end justifies the means', which is to say amorality. It is the mindset of the oppressor... just beat everyone into submission.
New technology is coming online, alternative energy is becoming more competitive and there will come a tipping point where fossil fuels will succumb to market forces... all thanks to the efforts of people who are doing it the right way.
If unlawful drugs were made prescription, you can bet that the pharmaceutical companies would undersell the drug dealers by no more than 10%. While this might cut into their profits, there would be no significant decrease in the crimes of person and property by those who steal or rob to gain funds for their drugs. Not an optimum outcome, i.m.o.
Yours is the morality of inertia. Whatever is done in the past shall continue in the future, because applying force for good is bad. Your morality really doesn't distinguish good from bad, and I doubt you know the difference-- you use a good/bad cookie cutter and apply it equally to all things.
The nub of the problem with your notion of morality is that it runs counter to the Constitution of our nation, which describes how power shall be derived and how it is to be applied in practice. Americans do not have a passive constitution, it is very active and adaptable.
Yours is an exotic philosophy that would be very attractive to anyone who holds power and oppresses others now, because it demands inertia-- I may keep doing what I do, while you shall remain inert.
Happy 4th of July too. I'll leave with this as I'm sure you'll like subject as much as I like the conclusion - "The best thing about Independence Day is that it started with a declaration that epitomizes the most American ritual of all: the listing of grievances."
You must be reading a different document. The intent of the Constitution, and the Bills of Rights in particular, is to LIMIT the power of government. You would increase that power exponentially, giving them an excuse to meddle in every aspect of our lives, everything that involves energy, which is to say EVERYTHING... all in the name of the greater good... as defined by the government.
Our country is founded upon the very concepts I espouse, i.e. natural rights, the self-evident rights to defend life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, the right to live any way you want, so long as you are not clearly and directly harming others. Your choice, not society's choice.
In a free society, people say and do things that you don't like. Get over it.
JAH... then perhaps you would agree that the problem is drug profits and the solution is the elimination of those profits?
JAH... the pharma companies can raise profit margins only if they are allowed to monopolize the product. Competition limits profit margins... and none of these drugs are patentable.
JAH... a far more likely scenario would be government taxing the drugs, keeping the prices high... in which case I agree, the crime would continue.
The tax would be promoted as a means of discouraging drug use... and meerkat would be cheering from the sidelines.
law making positions were infiltrated by corporations too long ago and should not be allowed to keep pace
if you want to solve these problems then demand new laws to ban our "public servants" from having any ties to corporations
otherwise it is climate today, pharma yesterday, water tomorrow, on and on while they laugh it up and watch our children deal with the financial destruction while their children have more power than they ever did
When you ask the individuals who will say there is no climate change. The first thing you should say is "where is your data that support your conclusions". I'm sure you will be waiting for a long long time for that data. In fact, you may not live long enough to get that answer.
I have gone to many environmental classes and find the people that are the most vocal has the least knowledge on the matter.
Simple test to ascertain climate change truth. Cut ALL government funding for research that supports man-made climate change. Cut government funding to colleges and universities with faculty that support man-made climate change.
Wait five years; recount the number of scientists that support man-made climate change.
Scientists are people too, and will be bribed by money. (on both sides)
Offer me a $90k/yr, five year contract to prove man-made climate change and I’ll be screaming about the dangers too.
IF climate change exists it’s the fault of the tree-huggers and environmental nut jobs. Forty years ago USA was moving down the nuclear power road, TMI occurred and rather than figure out how to improve the system they, with protests and non-science emotional appeal stopped all plants under construction and any future nuclear power plants. Great, only they were also too lazy to find a suitable substitute. No, all they can do is complain. So, people still wanted lights, heat, etc, and the power industry used the next best option, COAL. You know the rest of the story.
So excuse me if I don’t join them in the climate change frenzy. What will be the next unanticipated consequence.
First those who threaten, or harass should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I have several problems with the Climate change theory.
First is the data set that came out of University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit. They mixed at least some tree ring data with "real temperatures" when the tree ring data showed a decline in temperatures. At best we can only compare real temperature reading with tree ring data for about 200 years, the decline stated in the 1960's so we have 50+ years where they don't match so at least some tree ring data is faulty, but was used anyway.
Second they didn't keep the raw data so nobody can check that data set.
Third the math published in the third assessment, and I haven't seen any new math, shows we should have a 5 degree increase in just CO2 alone, and that's if you ignore all the other green house gasses. And yes I understand thermal mass, but I was only looking at ONE of the global warming gasses not all of them, so we really should have much more than 5 degrees of increase.
Now as far as Freedom of Information requests, requests for email, a simple packet of all the information on the research would fulfill those requests, Here you go everything we have, have fun. E-mails should be released if they are taking public funds (tax money), what is there to hide? When you start hiding anything you just give the other side something to hang their hat on. See they ARE hiding something. Had ALL the data, math and assumptions been out in the open maybe we wouldn't be fighting about this.
But those are the some of the problems I have with man made global warming. I also know the planet has been warming it been warming up for a long time, the question is how much is the responsibility of man?
The fact that the topic of discussion has conveniently been switched from "global warming" to "climate change" by AGW proponents should tell you something. The hard data does not support their hypotheses, so they just changed their theories. Since the data shows a gradual global cooling trend over the past decade, "climate change" is now the boogeyman rather than "global warming". And if you question their scientific process, they denounce you as a "climate change denier". Which is a bit silly, since no one is questioning the fact that the global climate is constantly changing.
As an engineer myself, I'm always open to hearing opposing views as long as they are based on fact. But the arguments used by the AGW crowd demanding that we regulate CO2 emissions is nonsense. Mankind's annual CO2 emissions are a drop in the bucket compared to those from natural sources. Not to mention the fact that other natural GHG sources like water vapor are not even considered by AGW proponents.
GHG regulations are costing private business tens of billions of dollars each year. If these regulations are based on fraudulent science, we need to hold those parties involved in promoting that "science" financially liable for these costs.
"...The first thing you should say is "where is your data that support your conclusions".."
If you asked that question to University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit they will tell you they tossed it out, and that they only have the homogenized data set, but we are to TRUST them that they didn't make a mistake.
Went people asked Mann for his data, he hid it and has said in court his ‘private ownership’ of such data trumps the FOIA rights of taxpayers. So he taking money from taxpayers, but we can't see what he doing.
Before I forget what happened to good science. You know where you say this is my theory, here's my data, here's my conclusions, try and poke holes in it.
Back in the day, that's the way it worked, if other people couldn't find fault then odds were the theory is probably right. But with people hiding data, losing data, who won't show their work, how can anyone check their work?
I am a skeptic and an engineer.
I understand we are in a global warming period and that CO2 contributes to the warming.
I have no idea how much the human activities or CO2 generation contributes to the overall warming - 1%? 10%? 50%? 90%? I see words like 'significant', or 'discernible' (the latter from the POPSCI article). They are near meaningless to me, because certainly 10% could be described by both of those words. Since no one puts any numbers on it, but instead puts fairly weak words on it, I think no one has any idea. Is this right?
If 10% of the warming is due to man's activities, certainly it doesn't matter what we do, because we can't affect the outcome.
It's not clear to me how much of an impact the US can have on the world wide problem, with the BRIC countries having such an impact due to their large populations and increased per capita use of fossil fuels.
I understand that controlling CO2 production will have an incredible impact on all of our lives, since most energy generation is from fossil fuels.
The attribution of the causes of any climate change entails examining all the possible forcings that affect climate. These include changes in: the sun, volcanic activity, human aerosol emissions, cosmic rays, land use, ocean currents, continental positions, orbital variations, ice albedo and atmospheric chemistry. There have been many scientific studies that measured and compared all these factors. No factor has changed sufficiently in the last while to explain the warming we’ve seen except atmospheric chemistry and, to a lesser extent, land use changes – both are human-driven.
Attribution studies have estimated at least 98% and up to 200% of the warming is human-caused since 1950 or 1960. This means the two human-driven factors provide sufficient forcing to explain that percentage of the observed warming. Human aerosol emissions and some natural factors have countered this warming recently and the observed warming is partially masked. The net of all the forcings is, of course, 100%. The masked percentage depends very much on what time frame is examined and how short-lived aerosols are measured. Internal variability can dominate over a decade or two and attribution is not really possible for such short time frames. Some of the other factors I mentioned above apply to periods of a century and longer, a time when CO2 levels were still low.
The IPCC reports put a heavy emphasis on attribution so that’s the best place to go, though a bit dated now. Perhaps the article at the link below will help. It provides links to about 8 recently published attribution studies and summarizes the different ranges they estimated. The bottom line of all studies is IT’S US.
The main scientific tenets of climate change and its cause are settled otherwise all the nations of the world would not have signed on to agreements stating that action needs to be taken to prevent warming from hitting the danger level of 2°C (how often is the entire world in agreement on anything?).
I will agree with you that what’s still uncertain is who will pay for the mitigation measures needed, that’s a political issue. Specific dates for a certain degree of warming are uncertain since they depend on what we do about it. Predictions are therefore made for scenarios only.