12 Apr 2012: Opinion

Besieged by Climate Deniers,
A Scientist Decides to Fight Back

Climate scientist Michael Mann, who has faced years of attacks from climate-change skeptics, explains why he believes bad-faith assaults on science have no place in a functioning democracy and why the truth about global warming will inevitably gain wide acceptance.

by michael e. mann

As scientists, we are used to having our work questioned.

Anyone who has ever attended a scientific meeting knows that scientists are hardest on themselves. When we present a new research paper at a conference, colleagues often interrupt us with sharp, pointed questions. Those questions are asked in good faith, in an attempt to make our work better and advance scientific knowledge.

But scientists who work on climate change are increasingly finding our work questioned by politicians and ideologues who simply don’t like our findings. Too often, politicians start with their conclusion, then work backwards to find the evidence — any evidence, regardless of its quality — to back up their preferred policy positions. And the fossil fuel industry is happy to fund those who attack our work, because our research has pointed to the burning of their products — oil, coal, and natural gas — as the primary drivers of climate change.

For more than a decade, I’ve found myself targeted and attacked by political interests who feel threatened by some facts my colleagues and I uncovered
The findings that made us targets have only been further validated as the world continues to warm.
about our changing climate. We have received menacing e-mails, including anonymous death threats. I’ve received a package containing an Anthrax-like white powder (the FBI determined that it was a hoax), and someone threw a dead rat on the doorstep of another colleague. As the political conversation around climate change has become more polarized, the attacks have intensified.

Now, however, my colleagues and I are fighting back, a task that is made easier because the findings that have made us the targets of climate change deniers have only been further validated as CO2 levels continue to rise and the world continues to warm. This is also true when it comes to the research behind the so-called “hockey stick” graph, which is what first prompted attacks on me and my colleagues.

That graph, unveiled in a 1998 paper, showed global temperatures level or decreasing for 1,000 years (the shaft of the stick) and then spiking upward in the past century (the upturned blade.) Those rapidly rising temperatures tracked increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, which coincided with the world’s growing use of fossil fuels.

For better and worse, our graph became an icon of climate change because it was relatively easy to understand. That made it a threat to opponents of dealing with global warming, who invested significant time and resources attacking our research. At first, my colleagues and I responded as we would to any scientific question. We evaluated the claims about our data and methods and responded in the scientific literature. But instead of questioning our claims in good faith, our critics approached the hockey stick like a politician approaches a piece of legislation he or she doesn’t like. Their goal was to dismantle our findings, regardless of the facts. By 2005, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), one of the biggest recipients of fossil fuel funding in the House of Representatives, sent my colleagues and me letters demanding that we open our professional and personal lives to an investigation from his committee.

These attacks obscure the bigger picture. Climate science is like a vast puzzle. Individual papers like ours are a single piece of that puzzle. Scientists are still filling in pieces the puzzle, but we can see a relatively complete picture of our climate that tells us the Earth is warming, human activity is the cause, and
Our critics approached the ‘hockey stick’ like a politician approaches legislation he or she doesn’t like.
that we are locking in substantial rises in sea level, increasingly intense heat waves and floods, and threats to global fresh water and food resources as we continue to burn fossil fuels.

But politicians and ideologues try to make climate science out to be a house of cards. Remove one card and the whole thing falls down. The hockey stick papers, they decided, must be one of those cards and their response was to attack our research and challenge our integrity. I call it the “Serengeti strategy,” in which predators look for what they perceive as the most vulnerable animals in a herd.

In 2005, U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York) had the courage to stand up to Joe Barton. Boehlert asked the National Academy of Sciences — an institution created by Abraham Lincoln to advise the government on scientific matters — to evaluate the “hockey stick” and related studies. The academy found our conclusions to be valid and appropriately understood them to be one piece of the puzzle. In fact, dozens of “hockey stick” studies using different data and methods have verified and extended our original findings in the past several years.

Barton took a different tack. He commissioned a statistician from George Mason University to produce a report for his committee to misrepresent our research. When the National Academy of Sciences issued its report, which validated our findings, fossil fuel industry allies in Congress like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) falsely claimed that the report disproved our research. Inhofe has named me and 16 others scientists as people he’d like to investigate if he again gains control of a committee in the Senate. Inhofe has just published a book detailing the “global warming conspiracy” he believes is behind climate science research. As a climate scientist, I can assure everyone that my colleagues and I simply aren’t that organized.

Climate scientist Michael Mann
Courtesy of the author
Michael Mann testifies before Congress in 2006.
Like Barton, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a subpoena in 2010 demanding personal correspondence from me and dozens of other scientists from my time at the University of Virginia. Thankfully, groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Association of University Professors, and several free speech organizations urged the university to fight Cuccinelli’s demands, and the university did. Cuccinelli lost his case before the Virginia Supreme Court last month. While we don’t know how much Cuccinelli’s office spent on this witchhunt, the university spent more than $600,000 in private funds defending scientists’ right to privacy.

Inhofe and Cuccinelli both drew their inspiration from an incident in November 2009, when climate scientists had their emails stolen from the University of East Anglia and misrepresented through a coordinated public relations campaign orchestrated by a who’s who of climate denial front groups. Why attack the University of East Anglia? It is one of four major government and academic centers that track global temperatures. Again, the Serengeti strategy at work: no matter that all the data from these four institutions tell us the world is rapidly warming, and that numerous independent investigations later concluded that the scientists whose e-mails had been hacked, including mine, had not engaged in fraud or scientific misconduct.

Despite these attacks, reality is catching up to our national conversation about climate change, and it is becoming harder to deny what the science has been telling us. Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Despite these attacks, reality is catching up to our national conversation about climate change.
(IPCC) reports in 2007, new scientific findings have indicated that global warming is generally worse than we thought. Carbon emissions are higher than the IPCC projected, Arctic sea ice is melting at a faster-than-expected clip, and observed and projected sea levels are increasing. At the same time, advances in climate science have more definitively linked climate change to an increasing likelihood of many types of extreme weather events.

Many local and state governments are prudently preparing for a changing climate and have also adopted policies that can drive down greenhouse gas emissions. But for other vulnerable regions, climate change isn’t on the agenda or is considered verboten for ideological reasons.

The price of politicizing science is high. In addition to the distraction it creates, it exacts a personal toll on scientists, taking time away from our work, our friends, and our families. If it’s any comfort, I’ve told colleagues who’ve faced similar attacks that they should wear it as a badge of honor. But my greatest fear is that it might discourage younger scientists from entering areas of research that vested interests have declared to be “off limits.”

Luckily, scientists are increasingly standing up for themselves. Scott Mandia, a meteorology professor at the State University of New York, was disturbed by the legal battle being waged over scientists’ personal emails in Virginia. He
Widespread, bad-faith assaults on science have no place in a functioning democracy.
kicked off a fundraising effort that led to the creation of a Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, which aims to help scientists foot the significant legal bills that can add up when they are attacked by ideologues. Mandia, along with a John Abraham, a physics professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, also helped create a Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which connects journalists with scientists.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has redoubled its efforts to defend climate scientists. It organized academics in Virginia to speak out against Cuccinelli’s investigation and has helped scores of scientists improve their ability to communicate with the media and policymakers – skills that simply aren’t part of many scientific educations. Scientific societies like the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union are also condemning attacks on their colleagues and helping scientists communicate their work in a difficult media and policy environment.

Widespread, bad-faith assaults on science have no place in a functioning democracy. We should be able to have a national discussion about climate change that is informed by a shared understanding of the scientific facts that generations of researchers have uncovered.

Scientists realize the stakes are high. People are hungry for information about what climate change means in their backyards, and scientists can help ensure that local decision-makers have the information they need to protect their constituents. Of course, more broadly, our “constituents” are our children. The decisions we make today about climate change will go a long way in determining the type of world they inherit from us.


The Ethical Dimension of
Tackling Climate Change

The Ethical Dimension of Tackling Climate Change
The global challenge of climate change, Stephen Gardiner writes, poses a perfect moral storm — by failing to take action to rein in carbon emissions, the current generation is spreading the costs of its behavior far into the future. Why should people in the future pay to clean up our mess?
In the wake of the manufactured East Anglia scandal, I was on vacation with my family in the Florida Keys. My four-year-old daughter was entranced by the mangrove forests, the dolphins, and the coral reefs, with their exotic and colorful fish. I couldn’t bear to tell her that climate change and an increasingly acidic ocean are slowly killing the reefs, that increasingly destructive hurricanes would subject them to further insult, and that projected sea level rise over the next century and beyond could submerge vast regions of the Florida Keys.

What to do about climate change necessarily involves questions about economics, fairness, and policy. But it also involves ethics. We are making decisions today that will impact the world our children and grandchildren inherit. What sort of legacy do we want to leave them?

POSTED ON 12 Apr 2012 IN Biodiversity Climate Climate Policy & Politics North America North America 


Climate scientists really are my heroes. I suspect you never knew what you were signing-up for when you started your career. Well done!

Posted by Peter Winters on 12 Apr 2012

What again? This guy seems to be on a perpetual propaganda tour, spreading his myths to anyone
gullible enough to give him a platform, like the story that everyone who doesn't support him is politcally motivated.

Fortunately we have the climategate emails that show his peers comments on his work.

"There has been criticism by Macintyre of Mann's sole reliance on RE, and I am now starting to believe the accusations."

"I have just read the M&M stuff critcizing MBH. A lot of it seems valid to me. At the very least MBH is a very sloppy piece of work -- an opinion I have held for some time."

"I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly can not be defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science move ahead."

Posted by James on 12 Apr 2012

Professor Jonathan Jones - tweeted to Michael Mann a little whil ago, that he was looking forward to Mike's explanation of his 'trick' and 'hidfe the decline' in Michaela new book..

It looks like he is still waiting.
As J JOnes had to resorst to FOI for international colleagues of M Mann to release the data, I'm just not sure realy who is 'anti-science'.

He made this longer comment elsewhere:
Prof J Jones (Physics Oxford)

"People have asked why mainstream scientists are keeping silent on these issues. As a scientist who has largely kept silent, at least in public, I have more sympathy for silence than most people here. It’s not for the obvious reason, that speaking out leads to immediate attacks, not just from Gavin and friends, but also from some of the more excitable commentators here.

Far more importantly most scientists are reluctant to speak out on topics which are not their field. We tend to trust our colleagues, perhaps unreasonably so, and are also well aware that most scientific questions are considerably more complex than outsiders think, and that it is entirely possible that we have missed some subtle but critical point.

However, “hide the decline” is an entirely different matter. This is not a complicated technical matter on which reasonable people can disagree: it is a straightforward and blatant breach of the fundamental principles of honesty and self-criticism that lie at the heart of all true science. The significance of the divergence problem is immediately obvious, and seeking to hide it is quite simply wrong. The recent public statements by supposed leaders of UK science, declaring that hiding the decline is standard scientific practice are on a par with declarations that black is white and up is down. I don’t know who they think they are speaking for, but they certainly aren’t speaking for me.

I have watched Judy Curry with considerable interest since she first went public on her doubts about some aspects of climate science, an area where she is far more qualified than I am to have an opinion. Her latest post has clearly kicked up a remarkable furore, but she was right to make it.

The decision to hide the decline, and the dogged refusal to admit that this was an error, has endangered the credibility of the whole of climate science. If the rot is not stopped then the credibility of the whole of science will eventually come into question.

Judy’s [Prof J Curry] decision to try to call a halt to this mess before it’s too late is brave and good. So please cut her some slack she has more than enough problems to deal with at the moment.

If you’re wondering who I am, then you can find me at the Physics Department at Oxford University. Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Jonathan Jones"

Posted by Barry Woods on 12 Apr 2012

Blah, blah, blah. Climategate emails and hide the decline remarks. Wake up. North America broke 15,000 heat records during the month of March, some by as much as 40 degrees. We're lucky this didn't occur in July. Now wildfires are commonplace on the East coast from the heat and dry conditions. Tornadoes ripped through the Midwest in Feb. and March. Already we've had our first billion-dollar weather disaster due to climate change. People who have the capability to think for themselves aren't buying your disinformation anymore.

Posted by Jon on 12 Apr 2012

The fact is, more and more evidence is pouring in now to refute the divergence hypothesis, which is already out-dated and short-lived. Take 15,000 North American high temperature records shattered in one month alone. The jet-stream pattern that caused this phenomenon has been shown to be the result of extreme arctic warming, as posted last month on e360.

Posted by Ross Geredien on 12 Apr 2012

Barry said... "Professor Jonathan Jones - tweeted to Michael Mann a little whil ago, that he was looking forward to Mike's explanation of his 'trick' and 'hide the decline' in Michaela new book.. "

Professor Jones might just try to do a little research first. He would find that 1) This was an email from Phil Jones discussing the cover graphic for a WMO report for non-scientists, and 2) The "trick" is just the idea of appending modern temperature records onto proxy data, and 3) the "decline" had to do with Keith Briffa's work, where some NH tree ring series don't track the temperature record after 1960.

After this you have Dr Jones complaining about scientists staying quiet while the previous poster is complaining about scientists speaking up. So, exactly what ARE they supposed to do people? Nothing seems to make you happy.

Posted by Rob Honeycutt on 12 Apr 2012

"Beseiged by climate deniers" You really can't leave bad enough alone. Again you reiterate the lie that it's about global warming and climate change rather than the idea of using argument furthering mathematical modeling based on simplistic assumptions to posit they have relevance to the real world.

This is political debate and logical fallacy with the impetus coming from the supragovernment agency the IPCC laying out a strategem to impose an international energy tax payable to the parent organization: the UN.

Certainly you cannot be trusted to frankly state objections based on paucity of data, unverifiability of models and impossibility of confirmation.

Posted by opit on 12 Apr 2012

opit... You seem to be suffering multiple delusions here. First and foremost you don't seem to understand that the physics behind man-made global warming has been understood for over 150 years. Science has been discussing this issue for a very long time.

And paucity of data? Really? There are some 100,000 published research papers on this issue. We have multiple satellites orbiting the earth right now tracking data specifically regarding global warming issues. There are 1000+ individual temperature proxy data sets. There are numerous ice core projects specifically looking at paleoclimate data. Even with regards to Mann's work, there have now been about a dozen other multiproxy reconstructions done now, with different data, different statistical methods and they all come up with the same answer as Mann's 1999 work.

Posted by Rob Honeycutt on 12 Apr 2012

"Certainly you cannot be trusted to frankly state objections based on paucity of data, unverifiability of models and impossibility of confirmation."

These are claims in themselves — wild ones, at that — unverified by any sort of peer reviewed science, and, not surprisingly, this also contains an ad hominem attack. How tiresome and unconvincing.

Posted by Don M. on 12 Apr 2012

It is sat that climate science is on trial. Let them do their work. We are free to ignore the risks, but you cannot ignore the evidence or dispute the science without engaging in the research yourself. If you think it is a conspiracy, well then the sky is the limit. I heard it was a US. missile that hit the Pentagon and that 911 was staged.

Posted by Christopher Pratt on 12 Apr 2012

"When ignorant armies clash in the night"

The article is clear and to the point, and the evidence is everywhere around you in multiple forms and over decades. Any lurkers should reread the article and then move on instead of latching on to inexpert comments which have no standing here and are strictly volunteer and amateur here (we hope and wish, though fossil fuel has funded multiple thinktanks and provided a lot of slick resources).

The idea that a large majority (97-99\%) of scientists, governments, and (almost all, if not all) legitimate agencies are in a vile and devious plot to impose world government would be laughable if it weren't taken seriously by people who should be able to think for themselves. They should take a look outside the influence peddlers cited in these comments. A little perspective should show you that Curry and MacIntyre are, while more qualified in scientific appearance and the groves of academe than the gullible, are self-appointed arbiters of a point of view that is not skeptical at all. True skeptics question all sides, rather than attacking anything they don't want to see and accepting without question anything they want to agree with.

Nine investigations have found no fault other than hot temper, impatience, and a desire to overcome the proliferation of misinformation and attacks that have greeted unwelcome information. The contrarians are not so free of guilt, despite the Inhofes and Bartons. The planet is not subject to vote, and no amount of politicking will change reality.

Reality is busy providing boatloads of evidence.

Posted by Susan Anderson on 12 Apr 2012

Thank you (again) Dr. Mann for continuing to speak out for science and exposing the bought-and-paid-for public officials that bow to the fossil industry. You are a climate hero!

For all the loud-mouth denalists that seem to derive sustenance by posting the same tired comments after any article discussing climate, I have a question: Who will you turn your anger on when you finally realize that you have been intentionally misled and manipulated?

In the U.S., its very clear which political party has adopted a staunch climate denial platform. Will that party bear the brunt of the public's anger as it becomes increasingly clear that our world is warming, our oceans are rising and our extreme weather events are growing more costly?

Posted by Ray S on 12 Apr 2012

Funny how the biggest climate change mouths have the biggest carbon footprints of all until you true beleivers give up your cars, computers etc and live on zero emission communes you have no credibitity whatsoever. If you really beleive c02 is "killing the planet" then stop emitting co2 or using products that are the result of emitted co2 if you can't do that then keep your idiotic cap and trade, carbon tax ideas to yourself.

Posted by climatecriminal on 12 Apr 2012

The ever-shrill climate deniers trot out the same distortions about the CRU theft. They dribble their World Government paranoia. They quote Curry's dissembling and anti-science rants (a sad tale about a once competent scientist now only interested in chasing the dollars).

All the time, the earth keeps heating up. And the evidence keeps piling up. And the scientists keep telling us there is a problem.

Climate change denial a unique form of stupidity.

Posted by IanA on 12 Apr 2012

Mann: "But scientists who work on climate change are increasingly finding our work questioned by politicians and ideologues who simply don’t like our findings."

That is because more politicians and ideologues have become aware of your biasing of data, lemon-picking, misrepresenting results, hiding evidence counter to GW, and overall un-professionalism.

Mann: "... reality is catching up to our national conversation about climate change, and it is becoming harder to deny what the science has been telling us."

Yes Mann, it is getting harder for you to deny what science has been telling us for years now:
1) Cause of Global Warming (if in fact any GW has occurred beyond normal oscillations) is/was not due to Man.
2) Cause of the claimed Anthropological Global Warming was due to Mann's manipulations. With co-contributions by Jones, Hansen, Gore & Pachauri (to name a few).
Posted by Darren Potter on 13 Apr 2012

GREAT article and I definitely support your hard and extremely important work. As part of my PhD work in geography, I have worked with smallholder farmers in Peru and now Sub Saharan Africa who are experiencing the brunt of climate change, and people who deny climate change is real are not only absurd, but absolutely clueless to the harm this is and will be causing the world's poor. And those who try and disassociate human activity to current climate change are working to get us off the hook for mitigation, with a much lazier emphasis on adaptation.

Never have I seen such a prolific, irresponsible response by people who truly don't know what they're talking about in a field where suddenly everyone is an expert. This lemming behaviour suits those invested in the fossil fuel business just fine. Please, continue defending and developing your important work, and know that while you will often hear the most noise from the grossly misinformed deniers and skeptics, that many, many people stand with you.

Posted by Nicole on 13 Apr 2012

The level of ignorance and the arrogance of American society is even higher than here in Poland, unbelievable.

You have the great scientists, years of intensive climate research, thousands of scientific papers — all of them draw the same conclusion — burning of fossil fuels leads to imbalance in the Earth energy budget. The more you are dependent on fossil fuels the more the belt tightens around your neck.

Posted by tkloszewski on 13 Apr 2012

We do get suspicious when you scurry around deleting emails in order to avoid FOIA requests and when you attach thermometer records onto proxy records in order to create you bogus hockey stick. If you really wanted to advance "the Cause" that you speak of in your emails you would recuse yourself from the climate wars. Only Al Gore has done more to set your side back than you and your enormous ego.

Posted by Mike Mangan on 13 Apr 2012

Blah, blah, blah. Unverifiable models, UN conspiracy. Opit, this is a political debate only because you made it one. Any idiot can go take a look at the Greenland ice sheet and watch it go. Deniers continue their disinformation campaign backed by trolls like yourself. Meanwhile the natural world is responding to climate change. We can see the weather disasters worsening on the news every evening, we can see species ranges shifting poleward and upward in altitude, we can see glaciers retreating worldwide, we can see Pacific Island nations going under the waters from rising sea levels. We don't need models to see that.

This is a deep moral issue folks because our kids and future generations will have to deal with the consequences of our greed-driven short-sightedness, a destabilized climate and food insecurity just to name a few.

Posted by Jon on 13 Apr 2012

Sadly, Yale Environment 360 seems to be infested with denialist robo-posters. An article from Dr. Mann naturally enough triggers the usual underhanded misleading attemps at AGW swift-boating.

What a waste of a good web site.

Posted by Sloop on 13 Apr 2012

climatecriminal... Your comments are absurd to the extreme. People like Michael Mann are doing more to help us transition off fossil fuels than most. A subset of people choosing to go CO2 free does almost nothing to fix the problem. This has to be a complete global shift in how human's produce energy and use energy. It doesn't call for everyone to unplug and go back to living in caves. It DOES call for capturing the full costs of fossil fuel use by making that industry pay for their carbon output. It DOES call for the rapid development and distribution of new energy technologies. It calls for removing subsidies for fossil fuel companies and leveling the playing field with new energy companies so they can compete fairly.

Moving into a cave doesn't advance what needs to happen. It's a good gesture at this point to do what you can to reduce one's carbon footprint but the problem will only be solved by broad systemic changes in the national energy infrastructure of all nations.

Posted by Rob Honeycutt on 13 Apr 2012

Citizens can show their support for Dr. Mann and others here (tax free): http://climatesciencedefensefund.org/

Or, you can donate and receive some cool items here:

Thank you all for your kind words and financial support.

Posted by Scott A Mandia on 13 Apr 2012

Citizens can show their support for science here: cfact.org.

Mann has been personally responsible, along with James Hansen of GISS, for wasting hundreds of billions of dollars. The UN began with the hypothesis that global warming was human-caused. After that they found scientists to support their hypothesis. After that they asked each guilty nation to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Guess who was going to collect and "distribute" this cash cow?
Posted by Kate on 13 Apr 2012

I'd like to see ALL the climate change deniers put their money where their mouths are. If these people are SO SURE that the climate is NOT changing, then I'd like to see them actually place their bets! Are you willing to put a substantial fraction of your life savings on the table for your absolute certainty?

No? What's that, a little thinking going on before you put your money where your mouth is? Do you really think you are going to win a 10-year bet, for example? Five-year bet? Fifty-year bet??Not sure you want to risk a large part of your net worth on this bet? Why not? You are SO SURE you are right, you couldn't possibly lose your money!!

I would like everyone to think about climate change as though they had a large personal stake in the outcome. Because we really do have such a stake, all of us.

Also, I believe instant experts should be required to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a physical science, if not a master's and a Ph.d, before they are allowed to make their pronouncements. OK, OK, just the bachelors' degree, but with the requirement of these minimums, which are commonly required at good colleges and universities: a year of calculus, a year of physics and a year of chemistry no matter which physical science is chosen. Then, and ONLY then, you have earned the right to question the science and math behind climate science.

Every last one of these scientists have spent YEARS AND YEARS of their lives studying to become the researchers they are. How is it possible that you think you know better than them? Quit with the so-called refutations until you have invested the time and effort to be on the same plane of knowledge these people represent.

Just leave the debate to the scientists. And bottom line, you will discover that the VAST MAJORITY of scientists agree the climate change is happening rapidly and that CO2 is the cause. The tiny number of scientists who disagree have one thing in common: their research is funded by the companies with a huge stake in maintaining the status quo with respect to our society's use of fossil fuels. Common sense dictates that research funded by such sources is, at best, questionable.

Open your eyes to the weather and events happening all around you. It should be enough to convince you, climate change is real and humans are the only plausible cause, since the world's volcanoes have not yet started to erupt all together at the same time.

Posted by Mary Dombrowski on 13 Apr 2012

My god! You climate change deniers sound as bad as white supremacists saying other races are inferior, or religious fanatics calling evolution a myth, or tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists saying aliens secretly run the government! What’s next to come under siege, math?? “No sir, I don’t believe in fractions, they’re not real numbers”. This is not a manner of opinion.

If you honestly think burning fossil fuels in harmless, I suggest locking yourselves in a garage with a car running and see what happens.

Posted by Scott John on 13 Apr 2012

As a sometime student of the philosophy of science I find Michael Mann's comments here rather intriguing. He seems to not have a clear grasp of how the process of science works as a
historical phenomenon. He gives every impression of working according to some sort of mythological view of science which sees scientists as a kind of inner group who move from discovery to discovery in a forward direction, and who should not be put upon by outsiders. This sort of view runs counter to almost everything done in the philosophy of science for the last century or so.

For instance, one of the key facts about science is that it is public information. This is one reason it has gained such dominance in American culture since the Revolution. In the early years of American democracy, science was seen as a good substitute for traditional European centres of authority such as the church and inherited political power. Its main value is that it is open to all and no one can claim personal control over the facts of science- a truly democratic source of knowledge.

It's thus rather ironic that Mann sees attacks on his work by those outside his inner circle as intolerable in a democracy. It's also rather strange he believes that information about the inner workings of science should be kept from the public gaze. What he is fighting for, therefore, really seems to run counter to the true interests of democracy and of science itself.

Of course, logically speaking, the motives of those criticising his work are really irrelevant. Good science will triumph in the face of any criticism, and if it is poor, it will be improved by being debated in the public arena with all facts on the table. The history of science shows how easily things can go haywire without this sort of robust challenge- being asked pointed questions by your peers at an in-house conference is never really enough.

Posted by Phil M on 13 Apr 2012

Just like Obama all Mann needs do is supply verifiable data that can be reviewed and we will go away. But seeing as the data either does not exist or it does not prove the theory it is doubtful he will finds any relief. He must prove his theory we are not required to disprove it that is how science works.

Posted by derfel cadarn on 13 Apr 2012

"James" failed to read the article, which explained for the millionth time that "ClimateGate" was a bogus scandal of cherry-picked irrelevancies.

Posted by Jim C. on 14 Apr 2012

derfel cadarn, you (as a Birther) a classic example of someone who'll refuse to accept ANY evidence you never wanted to accept in the first place. You create endless loops of "begging the question" and your ilk is impossible to reason with.

Posted by Jim C. on 14 Apr 2012

Wow, the level of denial by climate change skeptics is astonishing!! Honestly if you can read the hundreds of papers out there on how the climate is changing and is influencing the planet on a global scale, AND still deny that it is occurring then I think that a second fund needs to be created, "A fund in support of those who have seemingly severe brain disorders".

Yes there are always those who will jump on the band wagon and take advantage of the "green economy" but to blatantly claim that CC scientists are falsely representing the work they have spent years on is ridiculous. I challenge any non-scientist to put forward a valid argument as to how CC is not occurring... I guess this will involve a lot of natural cycles and the general garbage that skeptics spew Ad nauseaum. Yes there has been natural change in the past but at the most basic level if you begin to combust carbon that has been essentially locked up for decades and expect conditions to remain the same then YOU are the ones who are blatantly ignoring what is right before you. Stop making the lives of those who are trying to make a small difference difficult as we all face a difficult future ahead as a result of global change.

Honestly, how can you deny some of the data that is coming out, take ocean acidification for example, this is chemisrty at work, an increase in CO2 WILL cause an increase in the acidity of the oceans, how can you deny this?

This whole idealism of there has been change in the past (naturally) and there will be in the future is redundant. Yes there has been change but do you know the enormous consequences that these changes have made to global process and functions?? we are in a state at the moment that allows us (a very unfortunate anthropocentric point of view) to thrive on planet earth. if we continue to destroy this stability through our plundering of carbon deposits of any kind we will likely topple the system, and if we survive the global system will eventually stabilize but if you think this will be a planet we can live comfortably on (if we survive ) then you are sorely mistaken!

As a final note, if anyone who thinks half of the papers that come out of CC science are hoaxes and not valid then you have not been part if the peer review world. If anything scientists are hardest on one another and an outsider might see this as a personal attack but as others have mentioned this is in an effort to improve the work, make it clearer , to BETTER it not disprove it.

I say WELL DONE to Michael Mann and others like him who do not take political attacks lying down. The future of the field depends on it.

Posted by Wesley Hattingh on 15 Apr 2012

Thank-you Mr. Mann

Posted by From Antarctica on 15 Apr 2012

Your higlighted quote was enough for me: "... the world continues to warm." Just what planet does Mann on?

"Virtually all of the USHCN warming since 1973 appears to be the result of adjustments NOAA has made to the data, mainly in the 1995-97 timeframe."--Dr. Roy Spencer


Posted by Michael Snow on 15 Apr 2012

The truth about global warming has already gained wide acceptance...except in the U.S.

Posted by Arakiba on 15 Apr 2012

Mr Mann, I am not an active scientist. I do, however have a good understanding of the scientific principle as do many other ordinary people. We learnt it in school and college as did you no doubt. Observing and recording the data produced on a school lab bench, or from a NASA satellite, are tasks that must be done equally accurately, i.e. as accurately as is possible.

Carl Popper took it further, as you are probably fully aware no doubt, in that hypotheses that can be falsified must be discarded, or changed. Why then, do you not see it as legitimate and fair argument, that your ideas may be challenged? That a legitimate attempt at falsification may be made?

There are some eminent and highly acclaimed professors in relevant fields who are asking relevant questions. And you are not answering the questions. There are some eminent journalists who are asking relevant questions, well thought through questions, rooted in logic. And you are not answering the questions. Science is not mystical. It is simple. It says: to find out about the world, use logic. Logic is not the sole preserve of scientists. Other people know about it too.
Posted by pjm on 15 Apr 2012

A nice read, but until you actually produce some actual facts that I can falsify I'll have to assume you're full of it. In any case, that the earth is still in a warming trend since the last ice age makes sense. That we puny humans can in any way effect that one way or the other, particularly on a global scale, is as ignorant as it is arrogant. Unless, of course, there is some underlying political agenda.

Next thing you know, they'll want to make carbon a pollutant. They can't possibly think we're THAT stupid, can they? The basis of all life a pollutant? No, they'd never stoop that low. Anyway, if you think what you've been through is bad, try sticking to the facts. That will REALLY get you into trouble.

Posted by Nicholas Fitzgerald on 15 Apr 2012

Really, Derfel? If that was all that was necessary to get you to stuff off, then how come this:


still hasn't worked?

Or for those whining about how the models are all hidden or have "global warming" built in as a prerequisite:


which allows you to point out WHERE this happens.

You have the verifiable data and it HAS been reviewed.


being merely the latest one, one that was endorsed by Curry, Watts et al, until this study found, unsuprisingly enough, that the temperature records from CRU et al were valid.

Posted by Wow on 16 Apr 2012

CO2 is coming from somewhere. Deny that!

Posted by Jon Sapppah on 17 Apr 2012

There's no such thing as a climate change denier. I've been searching for one for years and cannot find one single person who believes the climate always stays the same. Everyone I talk to thinks the climate has changed for millions of years and will continue to do so. Mann is not only being unscientific but unreasonable in calling his opponents Climate Change Deniers. How can we have a productive discussion when such false terms are used??

Posted by Joseph Dewey on 19 Apr 2012

Congratulations Dr Mann on continuing the fight. As for the 'sceptics' who deny AGW, we need to remember that old line, "it is hard to convince a man of a fact if his salary depends on it not being true."

I see the current war on science as a rearguard action by polluters to push back the boundaries within which their actions make economic sense. Once solar is as cheap as coal, for instance, coal becomes worthless. Therefore, all effort must be exerted to prevent actions such as subsidising solar or penalising coal in the name of averting climate change.

Once the climate community realises this, the response becomes clearer. Focus on the basics, don't get sidetracked. The earth IS warming — recent revisions have shown the temperature 'decline' of the past decade didn't occur. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by burning buried dinosaurs ARE the major contributor. The models are getting more sophisticated but they are still saying the same thing, and early predictions about, for instance, weather variability and increasing extremes ARE coming true. As a theory, AGW has not been disproved and neither has a better hypothesis been put forward. Pretty simple really.

However, the anti-scientists have an armoury of very sophisticated propaganda instruments which are being deployed ruthlessly. The trolls who infest sites like this merely represent one facet of a multi-dimensional assault on science.

Ok, so who wants to be the first to accuse me of a conspiracy theory? Perhaps you'd like to look at the recent Heartland Institute analysis on desmogblog.com and the leaked papers (now that's a real ClimateGate scandal) which included plans for an 'alternative' science curriculum - think Intelligent Design - and a 'new analysis' of temperature records — here comes the Urban Heat Island rubbish again.

Posted by Ricardo K on 19 Apr 2012

The amount of ignorance from these politically motivated Sean Hannity and Lush Rimbaugh supporters is truly amazing... I heard that March, shattering all previous records, was the hottest ever recorded. Their response was to blame it on the jet stream while apparently not understanding what drives the jet stream. The science behind global warming is not politically motivated, it just is. Time to wake up and address the problem before it's too late, if it's not too late already... Our future and our children's futures not only depend on it, but demand it.

Posted by Scatamooch on 22 Apr 2012

Amazing, that even here, the wingnut deniers are busy at work trying to undermine reality. How pathetic.

Posted by Justin on 23 Apr 2012

I live with deniers. They have not given me any sufficient alternate explanations for what is happening. "It's the sun" "It's natural fluctuation" "It's a conspiracy of fear-mongerers." Whatever.... I am not a climate scientist... but I trust the leading authorities in each specific scientific field. I am merely an undergrad student of psychology, yet I know that a scientist's work
is critiqued far more harshly by their peers in the field than by anyone else. I trust the experts.

Given that politicians and the media have a history of embarrassingly severe ignorance of even the basics of science... and that here in America... people seem to think that any idea is true if people believe in it hard enough... Well... let's just say that I'm not inclined to believe the politicians and political pundits who say that climate change is a hoax... when they turn around and say that "intelligent design" is just as probable as evolution. The scientific ignorance in this country is embarrassing enough to make even this undergraduate student of science want to put a paper bag on her head!

Bottom line: I am a "scientist in training," I don't know what I'm talking about most of the time...
therefore... when in doubt... trust the experts.... especially if the vast majority of them agree on something that had passed the rigorous test of peer review.
- Just a thought.

Posted by Meghan on 23 Apr 2012

We are fond of saying, "The sky's the limit!" as if there were no limits. Ironically, with atmospheric CO2 rising faster and faster, the sky may turn out to be the limit. Check out the actual data at:

Posted by Paul Lauenstein on 24 Apr 2012

Quotes from Mr. Mann's article"

"The price of politicizing science is high."

"We should be able to have a national discussion about climate change...."

And yet Mr. Mann continues to use the term "Climate Change Denier" when he speaks of those who disagree with his assertions. How can you have a conversation with skeptics when you use a negative term based on your ideology to describe them before the conversation even starts?

Posted by North Vega on 25 Apr 2012

The mistake we make is in attributing ignorance and stupidity to deniers when we should be focused on their self-interested attempts to maintain the status quo. The data supporting the reality of anthropogenic climate change by any scientific standard is overwhelming, so it is only by conscious and willful effort that it can be denied. And it has to be admitted that even with their paucity of evidence they have brought the debate to a multi-year state of gridlock and inaction. So, Respect!

Posted by Adam Albright on 25 Apr 2012

North Vega, It is not political to use the term "denier" rather than "skeptic" to describe someone that is ideologically rather than scientifically drawn to a position, when that position is contrary to facts.

Posted by Dan Carter on 29 Apr 2012

I am not a scientist, and cannot pretend to understand any of this well enough to debate it, but I am a human being and I’d like to think I have a bit of common sense and can tell that a lot of things we are doing are bad for our environment and our future. When did the environment become a political discussion instead of a common sense discussion? The environment is our life line, and basic common sense says you have to take care of it to stay healthy and alive. It’s not a right or left issues, it’s a human issue which transcends political affiliations.

If scientists were working independent of political and corporate influences, they would do what they do best, unbiased research. Today, it’s such a polarized environment caused by those bad influences, that you can’t even tell who is a good or a bad scientist. How is that helpful to our society? It’s not it only serves the purpose of corporate interests no matter what the social cost is.

Can we evolve a bit, just a little, so that we can get some real unbiased research, where scientists don’t have to defend themselves to us, the none-scientist? Can we remove corporate and political influences out of the equation? Can we, for a change, care more about our health and survival as a society then our personal wallet size? Can we get our humanity back please?

Posted by DCaron on 04 May 2012

The great (or horrible, depending on your point of view) thing about the scientific method is that it inevitably leads you to the truth, which remains true whether or not you choose to believe it. Deal with it (perhaps a little paxil would help?).

Posted by ThisOldMan on 07 May 2012

Given that politicians and the media have a history of embarrassingly severe ignorance of even the basics of science... and that here in America... people seem to think that any idea is true if people believe in it hard enough... Well... let's just say that I'm not inclined to believe the politicians and political pundits who say that climate change is a hoax... when they turn around and say that "intelligent design" is just as probable as evolution. The scientific ignorance in this country is embarrassing enough to make even this undergraduate student of science want to put a paper bag on her head!

Posted by jeunesse on 16 May 2012

The debate is NOT about warming due to CO2 anyway, it's about the the level of feedback. This is the amount of additional warming due to an increase in water vapour, over and above 1 degree C, for a doubling of CO2. This amount is accepted by the IPCC. 1 deg for a doubling of CO2.

Those sceptical of the IPCC computer predictions of high feedback include Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Freeman Dyson, John Christy and as of last week, James Lovelock. They all believe that +2deg.C or less is likely. No more. Please read this by Lindzen. (Note NOT by WUWT)


Posted by pjm on 21 May 2012

TO: James, Barry Woods, opit, climatecriminal, Darren Potter, Mike Mangan, Kate, Phil M, derfel cadarn, Michael Snow, pjm, Joseph Dewey, North Vega and of that ink that I may have missed.

Like many others I know, who were originally neutral in this “debate”, I began to take the side of climate scientists because of the sheer viciousness of your attacks. The onus is on climate change deniers to prove to us that they do not work for, or have investments in, the coal, oil, gas or other related industries. The same presumption of innocence should be shown to climate change deniers as they have shown to climate change scientists ie none.

As 2017 was given for the deadline to prevent “dangerous and irreversible climate change”. It is now apparent that we will not make it. There is no doubt that many innocent people will now die and that there will be a lot of property damage.

I decided to change careers due to ill health a few years ago. I started a couple different courses but due to the 2017 climate change deadline, and my own Christian convictions, I am now starting a Bachelor of Law. My goal is to start class-action lawsuits against climate change deniers for libel, slander, defamation, and scientific fraud etc.

Their needs to be changes in laws that will allow retrospective legislature (something normally frowned upon by the legal fraternity) to be enacted allowing action against climate change deniers. I look forward to seeing climate change deniers in court in a few yrs. All people of goodwill need to start lobbying their governments to bring such changes to the various statutes to prepare for what will no doubt make the 21st century “The Century of Litigation”.

Future cases such as this – which show a clear public risk for delay – must not again allow vested interests to cause delays that will knowingly result in loss of property investments and/or (most seriously) human life. The recent cases against the tobacco and asbestos companies have provided powerful precedents that will enable individuals, companies and eventually countries to be held to account in courts of law. If a link to the major oil companies can be established here the penalties will run into trillions of dollars. I fully expect countries that have delayed to be sued eventually as well. These cases move slowly but eventually catch up with the perpetrators.

It is time for climate scientists to start telling us how we can reasonably adapt to a world that could be anywhere between 2-4C warmer by the end of the century. The lifeboat principle should now be favoured: save what you can.

How sad that it had to come to this.

Kind Regards,

Matthew Rosenbaum

Posted by Matthew Rosenbaum on 21 Jul 2012

For most of the commentators the issue of climate change is clearly ideological. In essence the prevailing philosophy appears to be that energy use is bad and climate change proves it.

The wonderful thing about the internet is that information from all sides of an issue is available to anyone with access to the web. The days when religious fanatics or any other self-interested group (including many climate scientists) can claim that their version of the truth is the only correct one and stifle all oppostion are long gone. Get used to it. The fact is that a changing climate on earth is self evident. That this change is human caused is merely a theory that is not supported by historical evidence.

The climate has changed many times before. The mechanisms governing those changes are poorly understood and the same can be said for the mechanisms that govern the operation of the solar system, the galaxy and the entire universe. Those of you who think you have it all figured out simply because you have a phd and have spent years studying various data are delusional. Offer your hypotheses but please, don't presume to tell me it is proven fact. If you do, be prepared in this age of freedom of thought, speech and information to have your views challenged. Even by people who don't have a phd! Gasp!

How annoying for you.

Posted by stuart blunsom on 12 Aug 2012

Thank you Dr. Mann for a well crafted article that connects the dots of the campaign against yourself and your colleagues.

I am grateful for your community's hard work and determination.

Posted by Eileen Kinley on 27 Aug 2012

Besieged by Climate Deniers!

Climate deniers who are they? If they exist then there must also exist planetary motion deniers. Why this bizarre misuse and Orwellian use of the English language. This misuse and labeling says much of this sandbox debate. Apparently anybody who don’t think as Mr. Mann is an antiscience shill. For me the only thing that counts is empirical evidence. Where is it?

Posted by Per Strandberg on 27 Aug 2012

The issue isn't Dr. Mann's integrity or the integrity of his work. The topic at hand is about the climate science and whether global warming posses and eminent threat. If Dr. Mann is not your cup of tea there are plenty of other bodies of work to choose from. Check out some youtube ice sheet melting videos, or some time lapse glacier erosion. Or if you prefer, get your hands on a back log of world news to paint a picture. At the very least pull your heads out of the sand long enough to have a sensible and objective discourse around the matter and try to avoid convoluting the issue further.

Posted by Duncan Allinson on 21 Nov 2012

"I heard it was a US. missile that hit the Pentagon and that 911 was staged."

If that's the depth of your level of curiosity then I fail to see how you could care less about what science may have to say on anything at all.

Posted by on 13 Dec 2012

Dear Professor Mann, perhaps you can assist with the following:

1) The procedure for calculating the confidence intervals for your 2008 paper in PNAS have not been disclosed http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/E10.full . It would be a great help to science if you could reveal the calculation.

2) In your MBH 1998/1999 papers, the confidence intervals shown for the 11th-19th centuries (from temperatures estimated from tree rings) are narrower than the confidence intervals calculated for the period 1851-1980 (measured by thermometers). If you can show the calculations for the 11th-19th century reported numbers that would be a boon to science.

Posted by Geoff on 17 Mar 2013

Professor Mann,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. Global warming affects the entire population of our planet. So the idea of pitting right against wrong regarding the validity of the global epidemic is a waste of time.

In my opinion, the proof of global warming lies in the increasing rate of hurricanes, floods, forest fires, and of course, loss of land mass. The tragic mistakes of mankind reap grave consequences. Black clouds of pollution hanging over major cities are permanent fixture, darkening the chances of future generations living a healthy life.

Thank you for your most informative article, Mr. Mann!



Posted by Erin on 19 May 2013

Comments have been closed on this feature.
michael e. mannABOUT THE AUTHOR
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. He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. He is the author of the recently published book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, and co-authored, with Lee Kump, the book Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. Mann, who was awarded the 2012 Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union, is a cofounder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website, www.RealClimate.org.



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