I don’t want us to make too much of the individual behind the brief confession we’re about to dissect, because if it wasn’t him leading Team Irrationality, it would be somebody else. We’re much more interested in how such individuals come to prominence in a society that claims to love Science will all its heart and mind.
The person is Michael Mann, of “hockey stick” fame. He has an article in the American Physical Society’s newsletter, which is ostensibly in praise of physicist Leo Szilard, who is, of course, worthy of praise.
The article is “Reflections on Leo Szilard, The Fragility of Truth and the Role of the Scientist in the Public Sphere”. The first paragraph is sort of about Szilard, but by the third, which starts “I’m proud to have started out in the same sub-field as Szilard”, it becomes all about Mann, his favorite subject.
Mann created out of statistics (that dismal field) a “hockey stick”, which purported to show a shocking increase in temperature man had, somehow, in all recorded history, missed. And which was blamed on global warming, now called “climate crisis.” The figure was poor science and silly. It is has been dissected, exposed, flayed, examined critically and ridiculed so often, most notably by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick (and here), that there is no point in doing so again. Indeed, two weeks back we tried to show the difficulties in reconstructing past temperatures: it’s ain’t easy, and there are massive uncertainties still unaccounted for.
At any rate, the stick confirmed the worst fears of a certain group of scientists (and of course politicians, activists, and others) who wanted their worst fears confirmed, and their desires caused Mann to become a celebrity. He is everywhere by the powerful lauded, pampered, promoted, awarded, rewarded, and sought after. He is in the media often: you have surely seen him.
But he has enemies! He sees himself beset by evil forces, cabals who work in darkness and whose only purpose, we gather, is to say Mann is not wonderful.
Despite the bruising battles as I’ve sought to defend the science of climate change—including my own work—from attacks by vested interests aiming to discredit it, I consider myself privileged to have found myself in a position to influence the public discourse over the greatest challenge we face as a civilization.
We must step up and do battle in what is a genuinely Tolkienesque [?] assault on science, reason, and fact-based discourse…
Our ongoing reliance on fossil fuels is in fact at the root of the twin battles we are fighting right now. A battle, on the one hand, to defend western democracy itself– from a brutal, barbarous assault by an authoritarian petrostate. And on the other hand, a battle to avert catastrophic climate change, while there is still time. These battles have been made all the more challenging by rampant disinformation that has flooded our online information ecosystem with falsehoods and outright lies.
He uses battle or battles eight times in his short article, attack four. And he uses unprecedented—that which is without precedent; i.e. that which is previously unknown—three times:
…we deal simultaneously with the threats of an unprecedented pandemic…
…how to deal with an unprecedented pandemic…
…we appear now to be moving past outright denial of the basic science as the evidence becomes plain to the person on the street in the form of unprecedented heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and superstorms….
Now the only thing unprecedented about this pandemic, for pandemics have always been with us, and many have been far, far worse, is that it was almost certainly created by Science through ineptness and hubris. This is surely not in Science’s favor.
And there just are no—as in none; zero; nada—“unprecedented” heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods or superstorms. This, too, has been demonstrated time and again. Of course, while these things do not exist in Reality, they do exist inside models. These “unprecedented” disasters are promised to us by models. They will happen soon, any day! Models say so. Science says so.
So much the worse for Science.
Yet the most important phrase Mann used is the existential climate crisis. Existential crisis, that which threatens our very existence. Nothing, by definition, could be more serious.
Therefore, I suggest we pass a new Mann Act. Ban all products from the “authoritarian petrostate” immediately. Mann says we have “the technology” now to do so “in the form of renewable energy, storage technology, and efficiency and conservation measures.”
If global cooling a.k.a. global warming a.k.a. climate change a.k.a. climate crisis really were an existential crisis, then we have no choice. We must. And, Mann says, we can.
That banning fossil fuels is absurd is part of its charm. If the “solution” to the “climate crisis” could be implemented, really implemented once and for all, as he says is easy, then, of course, it would be. It isn’t implemented, because it can’t be. But that it can’t be serves as a forever foil, an enemy on which Mann (or whoever would take Mann’s place) can focus—by sounding like that guy at the end of the bar who is sure oil companies are hiding engines that run on water.
If the solutions he says exists, and which are that obvious, really were implemented, Mann would be out of a job. His celebrity would fade. He would become unimportant. Which, to him, is an intolerable existential crisis.
Full disclosure: my total lifetime monies and all other consideration given to me from oil companies and their affiliates is $0. Now ask Mann how much he has got in government grants to push a line beloved by government.
Buy my new book and learn to argue against the regime: Everything You Believe Is Wrong.