Few stars in the frothy firmament of academic climate science shine more controversially than Dr Michael E. Mann, creator of the notorious “hockey stick” curve, gloomy prognosticator, conspiracy theorist, co-author of The Madhouse Effect: How climate change denial is threatening our planet, destroying our politics and driving us crazy, anti-Trump activist and fan of climate toothpaste, the only anti-apathy oral hygiene product with UH-OH formula.
The Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, USA, was in New Zealand last week, where he gave a keynote lecture at the Second Pacific Climate Change Conference.
Radio NZ’s Kim Hill caught up with him for a 32-minute interview.
Hill: Can you attribute recent weather events to [dangerous anthropogenic] climate change? (1.40min.)
Mann: You can. In fact, there are droughts, wildfires and floods occurring without any precedent in the historical record where we can now show [the reality of anthropogenic climate change] using computer model simulations.
You can run two parallel simulations; one where carbon dioxide is left at pre-industrial levels, and a parallel simulation where you increase these levels in response to the burning of fossil fuels. You can look at how often a particular event happens in both counterfactual worlds.
What on Earth is a “counterfactual world”? Struggling to prove an anthropogenic influence in the “actual” world, members of the so-called climate detection and attribution (D&A) community were forced to create virtual “worlds” to run their computer games, an opaque process known as in silico experimentation.
This approach, however, faces big challenges, as GWPF science editor, Dr David Whitehouse, explained (here) in a post last September.
Whitehouse: The idea is to look at a particular heat wave and rerun it on an Earth where man-made climatic effects have been removed. If it’s stronger or longer in the real [“factual”] world than the virtual [“counterfactual”] one the man-made climatic changes [are assumed to] have increased its severity or frequency. If you wish you can add some numbers saying the event was made 50% or perhaps ten times more likely because of man-made climate change.
Of course it all depends upon the models and our ability to remove man-made changes from the observations. What’s worrying is that the climate models are very poor at projections and fail to adequately capture the real world. That’s something that has been admitted many times… (my bolding).
Whitehouse went further. Abstruse papers in peer-reviewed journals were often promoted as “statements of certainty” Their conclusions, however, were tentative at best. Yet they continue to be misrepresented in the public domain by the orthodoxy.
Mann at least admitted later there are legitimate issues for debate around EWE attribution (16.02min.). With regard to the alleged “linkage between [dangerous anthropogenic] climate change and hurricanes”, etc., “some really interesting areas are still being actively debated.”
Ironically, Mann seems to be concerned as much with semantics – and what he calls the “madhouse effect” – as with the science. He divides the world into three groups: the truth-tellers (alarmists, climate scientists, etc.), and the “good” and “bad” sceptics, the last category including climate deniers, pro-Trump voters, and so on.
For him, climate change deniers are really mischievous “contrarians” and “bad faith actors” masquerading as sceptics; while good sceptics – presumably those who ask the right questions – are “the self-correcting machinery of science”.
Scientists are the real sceptics, said Mann. They scrutinise all sides of the problem, rather than simply “reject mainstream science based on flimsy arguments that don’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny.”
Mann: This is the madhouse of the climate debate. We have followed Alice through the looking glass. White roses here are painted red, and words suddenly mean something different from what they used to mean. The very language of science itself, of “scepticism” and “evidence”, is used in a way opposite of how science really employs it. (The Madhouse Effect, 2016) Reference
Half-way into the interview, Mann took a leaf – if not a whole chapter, then at least the central thesis – out of that stinking red herring of a book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (2012), by Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes. (The latter author, incidentally, was an exploration geologist for Western Mining in South Australia before switching to a more lucrative field, global warming activism.)
In an intriguing epiphany, Mann now has compassion for deniers (presumably excluding President Trump). This will surprise many including Mark Steyn, who has been embroiled in a defamation case with the scientist for seven years, of which more below.
Mann: I think the vast majority of people who do not accept the scientific consensus are victims. I actually see them as victims of a disinformation campaign; the best funded disinformation campaign in the history of civilisation, funded by fossil fuel interests and allied forces. It would be remarkable if pouring hundreds of millions – literally billions – of dollars into that special interest campaign did not have an impact. (Radio NZ interview, 16.50min.) (my bolding)
The real bogeymen in the climate street fight, then, apparently are fossil fuel interests and “allied forces”.
At this point one waited for Kim Hill to jump in with a question, but in vain. “That’s a big call, Michael, billions of dollars; the best funded disinformation campaign in the history of civilisation. Your evidence?”
Confirmation bias is indeed in the mind of the beholder; and on the payroll of the climate industrial complex.
Not everyone wants the facts to be known. We have run squarely into what Upton Sinclair famously warned us about: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.” And there are many powerful interest whose salary has very much depended on the public not understanding climate science. (The Madhouse Effect, 2016)
As for hockey stick saga, Steyn posted an update on 30 March, 2017, here.
Steyn: In a couple of months, Michael E Mann’s defamation suit against me will enter its sixth year in the constipated bowels of DC justice. Given the proceduralist swamp in which the case is now mired, it is not unreasonable to assume that its ultimate disposition will consume most of my remaining time on earth: as I’ve remarked before, in medieval England trial by jury replaced trial by ordeal; in 21st-century America it’s the other way round.
So, just in time for Michael E Mann’s Congressional testimony this week, Watts Up With That posted a guest essay by Rick Wallace reflecting on “pathological science” and my book “A Disgrace to the Profession”: The World’s Scientists – in Their Own Words – on Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick and Their Damage to Science – Volume One.
Mann’s whole hockey shtick is to present himself as the very embodiment of science – or, in his more modest moments, climate science: le climat, c’est moi.
Meanwhile, fellow sufferers from truth decay and climate sensitivity, will be pleased to learn a remedy is now available. You can purchase the new Mann-endorsed toothpaste online from The Climate Store.
Tired of having people yawn when you start talking about climate change? Are friends distracted by Facebook when we’re facing a planetary emergency! What they need is Climate Toothpaste – with ANTI-APATHY STIMULANT! This product combats climate change by changing bystanders, deniers and couch potatoes into climate activists! After just one brushing they’ll be calling legislators, marching in the streets and demanding climate justice NOW.
This is an actual product. No kidding
Climate toothpaste, n., 1. A paste used for cleaning the teeth, esp. one promoting anxiety about truth decay. Apply with a trowel and rinse twice with noble-cause mouthwash. 2. Climate-craft: an anti-apathy oral product with UH-OH formula, launched in October, 2017, at The Barking Dog, Bethesda, Maryland. Reference
Truth decay, n., 1. A process or state of cognitive impairment induced by excessive use of social media, producing a chronic inability to distinguish fact from fiction; often accompanied by periods of confusion, euphoria, incredulity, etc. 2. Climate-craft: a term used to describe the gap between theory and reality in a model, model ensemble or modeller’s synapses, especially one due to obsessional counterfactual speculation.