Nobel Prize Winning Climatologist to Speak at Ammerman


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Dr. Michael E. Mann

By Ashley Maisano

Dr. Michael E. Mann is an American physicist and climatologist at Pennsylvania State University. He has been front and center in the climate change debate and has faced various attacks because of it.

As author of his book detailing the infamous “hockey stick graph,” a dramatic representation of estimated temperatures stretching back 1,000 years that shows a sharp uptick the past century, Mann became a target of those who sought to discredit his work.

Mann attended the University of California Berkeley, and received an A.B. in applied mathematics and physics in 1989, graduating with honors. He then went on to study at Yale University where he obtained an MS and MPhil in physics in 1991, an MPhil in geology and geophysics in 1993, and a PhD in geology and geophysics in 1998.

Mann went on to become a teacher at the University of Virginia from 1999 to 2005 in the Department of Environmental Sciences. Soon after, he took his career to Penn State University and in 2009 was promoted professor at PSU in the Department of Meteorology and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, and has been director of the university’s interdepartmental Earth Systems Science Center since 2005.

Many people know Mann for his work on the temperature record of the past millennium, where he has studied climate changes based on evidence from tree rings, ice cores, corals and more. Based on his studies and hard work, Mann won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

1n 1998, Mann co-wrote a study called Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries, which included a graph showing the rapid increase in global temperatures in the late 20th century.

In 1999, he broadened this study and decided to cover ten centuries instead of just one, in their paper called Northern hemisphere temperature during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties and limitations. The graph from this paper got its named the “hockey stick graph” for its shape. This graph became an iconic symbol of the scientific consensus on climate change and was reproduced in many people in their scientific papers.

“I agree with his work but what is far more important is that his paleoclimate research known as the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction has been duplicated by many international scientists using different types of climate data and various data analysis techniques,” explained Scott Mandia, professor of Physical Sciences. “The fact that the planet is warmer now than at any time in the previous 2,000 years is very well-accepted in the climate science community. The science is solid.”

As the graph was getting more and more popular, it also became the focus of controversy. People opposed to the scientific consensus have attempted to use this debate to advance their views. Mann has said that his findings have been “independently verified by independent teams using methods and alternative date sources.”

In November of 2009, hackers acquired several of Mann’s emails with climate researchers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, and published them on the Internet, which eventually started the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. PSU appointed two reviews related to the emails and Mann’s research and he was then cleared of misconduct, stating there was no substance to the allegations, but criticized him for sharing unpublished documents with third parties.

“I am very disturbed by the politically-motivated attacks on Dr. Mann and others like him who have produced science that is inconvenient to some people’s political or financial position,” Mandia said. “People should never shoot the messenger because they dislike the message.”

The attacks did not stop there. Mann has received death threats, anthrax scares, and has been put in dangerous situations many times.

“I’ve been attacked in just about every way imaginable, whether it’s by climate change deniers, advocates for fossil fuel industry, powerful politicians, right-leaning media outlets in the U.S. and abroad,” Mann explained. “I’ve been called all sorts of nasty things; I’ve been accused of fraud; I’ve been called a criminal. It’s using the tools of character assassination to discredit the science by going after the scientists.”

Soon after, a Virginia attorney attempted to attain documents relating to several Mann grant applications in the Attorney General of Virginia’s climate science investigation, but the case was defended and the court ruled that the attorney didn’t have the authority for his demands.

“Science has informed important decisions that have moved this great country forward so I am saddened to see one major political party [Republican] and some energy industry interests openly attacking science,” Mandia explained. “These attacks are un-American and are threatening the future of this country”

In October of 2010, Mann began to publicize all of these attacks and wrote an opinion editorial in the Washington Post, where he explained several past, present, and projected attacks on climate science and scientists by politicians.

During the course of these events, Mann made sure he wrote everything down.

“I have huge folders on my computer where every time there’s a development. I’ve been saving the articles, I’ve been taking notes, because I knew that at one point I would want to tell my story,” Mann said.

In his new book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, Mann talks about his battle with climate change deniers.

“I had been encouraged by friends and colleagues to write about my story for some time,” explained Mann, “because my experiences do have some salience in what I refer to as the ‘Climate Wars,’ this concerted attack over the past two decades against the science of climate change.”

“Hopefully I can use that as a vehicle to examine some of the issues involved: the reality of human-caused climate change, the evidence for it, the origins of the attacks against the science and what drives those attacks, and finally a look forward,” Mann added.

Reliving these experiences as he wrote his book brought back many emotions.

“In many ways, writing the book was therapeutic,” Mann explained. “It was cathartic, because some of the most relevant, most important events unfolded as I was already writing the book, including the hack of the Climatic Research Unit…Part of what helped me get through those experiences was being able to write about them and knowing that I would ultimately get to tell the true story behind the attacks against me.”

Despite the controversy and all of the attacks, Mann has stayed motivated to continue with his work. He has a 6-year-old daughter and is concerned about how the planet will eventually end up for her future.

“To me, it’s very much a question about the planet we leave our children and grandchildren,” Mann said. “Decisions we make will impact earth for decades and centuries to come. We have to decide what sort of legacy we want to leave our children. It isn’t futile; it isn’t too late. There’s a lot of pessimism, and the problem is urgent, but there’s still time to confront it.”

Mann is not the only one who is taking action to prevent further damage to our planet.

“Because of these attacks, I co-founded the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (http://climatesciencedefensefund.org) and we are helping Dr. Mann and others with their legal bills and questions,” Mandia said.

Since Mann is so concerned for the future of our planet, he travels around to teach his studies to students and to get people involved.

Mann will be speaking at the Ammerman campus on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

“It was my idea to bring Dr. Mann to SCCC. I chose him because I know him personally and had a feeling he would agree,” Mandia said. “Dr. Mann is one of the top climate scientists in the world and is also an outstanding climate science communicator.”

Mann’s first talk is open to students and faculty only and is being held in the Smithtown Science Building in room T-109 between 12:30 and 1:45 p.m. His second talk will be open to the public at 7-8 p.m. in the Shea Theatre.

“I have seen Dr. Mann speak many times and it has been impression that the audience leaves understanding that humans are warming the climate and that there is no debate among the experts,” Mandia said. “He also shows the audience how politics has undermined the scientific endeavor and is causing this country to delay required action.”

The bookstore will also be offering a book signing one hour before each presentation on location. Mann’s latest book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wards: Dispatches from the Front Lines will be available for purchase at these times.

For more information contact professor Mandia at mandias@sunysuffolk.edu or 631-451-4104.

16 responses

  1. […] story at The College Reporter Share this:TwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponEmailRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. Hide the decline…

  3. Douglas Reed | Reply

    Where’s the data, Dr.Mann?

  4. […] Via College Reporter: [I]n November of 2009, hackers acquired several of Mann’s emails with climate researchers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, and published them on the Internet, which eventually started the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. PSU appointed two reviews related to the emails and Mann’s research and he was then cleared of misconduct, stating there was no substance to the allegations, but criticized him for sharing unpublished documents with third parties. […]

  5. Mike Bromley the Canucklehead | Reply

    Amazing! Nary a mention of the paranoid delusional attacks on critics, and the continued use of the ‘denier’ meme. Oh, and every critic is funded by the Koch Brothers, just to add extra-onerous smell to the tale. Not to mention the “we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”…because it really IS a fly in the ointment.

  6. My science includes peer review and open data. Mann’s is proprietary. Speaking one’s mind and openly disagreeing with what we’re told to believe is un-American. who knew?

  7. “These attacks are un-American and are threatening the future of this country” – Scott Madia

    “I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree…, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree….” – Hillary Clinton

    “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” – Nancy Pelosi

  8. Scientific discovery has led to America being a world leader and most of the things one enjoys in life were the result of science. Attacking science is un-American.

    All of the data used to construct the hockey stick T plot has been publicly available for years. The latest data can be freely downloaded here: http://bit.ly/hxAV5V

    Furthermore, there are many “hockey sticks” determined by using a variety of different data and different data analyses. These studies are from various international scientists. See: http://bit.ly/9MykbB Mann’s work has been duplicated many times.

    Stolen emails? Science advances by publishing research in peer-reviewed academic journals – not by reading personal emails. To assume otherwise would be akin to claiming that a careful review of Sir Isaac Newton’s private letters would prove that gravity causes objects to fly upward. Dr. Mann’s result that showed global temperatures the past several decades as being warmer than those of the past 2,000 years has been duplicated by many other international scientists.

    See http://bit.ly/ebjiCz (Stolen emails were talken out of context to try to sabotage well-understood science)

    Mother Nature must also not read emails because the oceans are gaining heat, the atmosphere is warming, ice is rapidly melting, species are migrating northward and upward, seas are rising, heat waves, droughts, and floods are increasing, the oceans are acidifying, etc.

    One should not shoot the messenger (science and scientists) because he does not like the message (changing our energy choices). The science is solid and not debatable but the policy solutions are clearly a different story. I completely agree that policy is where we need to be having the discussion and it must be a civil one at that.

    Let us be clear on the science. It is a well-understood fact that human emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are rapidly warming the planet and this warming is increasing risks across many sectors of society. The United State National Academy of Science stated in 2011 that the planet is warming and it is due to human activities. In fact, they made the very unusual statement that this is “settled fact”. Just like it is settled fact that the earth is round, gravity causes the apple to fall from the tree, and smoking increases the risks for lung cancer. More than 97% of the experts who study climate change every day agree and EVERY international science academy agrees. 100%. None disagree and these groups represents hundreds of thousands of scientists’ reputations so they do not make statements lightly.

    Who else is concerned? Military and intelligence experts warn that climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions. Health officials warn us that climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Climate change was recently listed as the greatest strategic risk currently facing the property/casualty insurance industry. None of these groups can be classified as leftist, tree-hugging liberals. These are experts who are warning us of a serious problem. We need to listen to these experts.

    There are many card-carrying conservative Republican scientists who also agree that the cause of climate change is humans and that there are very good reasons that conservatives need to accept the science. Please see:

    Dr. Barry Bickmore’s How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change: http://bit.ly/IrJdhN

    Dr. Richard Alley’s three-part series Earth: the Operators Manual: http://bit.ly/IlhjS7

    Paul Douglas: Climate Change Has Nothing to Do With Al Gore (Part 1): http://bloom.bg/IDhgRh
    Paul Douglas Forecast Calls for Climate-Smart Business: http://bloom.bg/I5sy4L

    BTW, if you had attended my presentation last week you would have seen that I have reduced my LIPA bills by 50% so I am helping to solve the climate problem and saving cash! Who could be against that? See http://bit.ly/JHvD8x for PDF file and videos.

    Can we please move on to the real discussion about what to do to solve the problems that are getting more serious every year? Time is running out. If we act now then the free markets and individuals can make palatable choices and we can keep government regulations to a minimum. The longer we wait the worse the problem will become and then government regulations might be forced onto us. I prefer to make the choice myself, don’t you?

    We need to reduce our emissions of carbon for the sake of our public health, national security, and economic competitiveness. Surely it is foolish to base our economic energy needs on sources that are dwindling in supply and increasing in price when, instead, we could move toward energy efficiency and cheaper-by-the-year, infinite sources such as the sun and wind. If we stay addicted to fossil fuels and do not begin investing in those technologies now, we will be buying them from China in the future instead of selling it to them.

  9. Every scientific truth is tested with a phase of denial. To all apposing Dr. Mann, how about you present the readers your degree in climatology and your Nobel Peace Prize?

  10. Nobel Prize*. To all those who believe, don’t give up hope, soon our generation will rule the population and we can start making the changes we wish the older generations were making

  11. Go Mandia!!

  12. Christian Irizarry | Reply

    hey kevin if you actually read the emails and the reports from climate gate you would know that hide the decline has nothing to do with climate change but instead its talking about the decline in accuracy in using tree rings to date ancient climate

  13. Professor Mandia and Michael Mann are trying to wake up people to the fact that global warming is a fact. It is backed by scientific research. Everybody needs to do something about it because we all live in this earth so we all carry some of the responsibilty. If global warming keeps going at this rate everybody is going to suffer. The more you wait the worse the problem gets because global warming does not stop today it has consequences that continue for years. If you care about everybody’s quality of life wake up before it gets worse. STOP being disinformed by Mass media.Do something! Exercise your right to vote, think a little about the future.

  14. Thanks for finally writing about >Nobel Prize Winning Climatologist to Speak at Ammerman |
    The College Reporter <Liked it!

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