If you get three scientists in a room, it probably would be difficult to get them to agree on anything, said Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State. “The idea that you could get thousands of scientists around the world to conspire on a hoax, and get the oceans and the ice sheets to play along with the hoax, is really a pretty remarkable claim.”
He said science now is abused as just another way of waging politics. “If you don’t like the conclusions of the world’s scientists, there’s an entire alternative cable network you can watch, which will expose you to an alternative reality, where the laws of physics don’t apply as we thought they did and the greenhouse effect doesn’t work the way we thought it did.”
Mann called himself “a reluctant and accidental public figure in the debate over climate change.”
He was at the center of the 2009 “Climategate” scandal involving the global warming issue. Based on stolen e-mails, scientists were accused of manipulating data to promote their theory that global warming is being exacerbated by humans.
Global warning was portrayed by some as a liberal hoax. Mann said scientists were subjected to intimidation and modern day McCarthyism by powerful politicians.
Mann has written a book about it, called “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.” He autographed copies of the book, which were for sale at the end of his lecture.
Mann said he was one of 17 climate scientists that U. S. Sen. James Inhofe wanted prosecuted for perpetrating a climate change hoax. He explained nine different investigations in the United States and Britain all concluded there was no evidence of impropriety, wrong-doing or manipulation of data by those scientists.
Mann said Climategate did cause a short-term dip in the public’s acceptance of the science supporting global warming, “but we’ve now fully recovered from that. In fact, we’re now at the highest levels we’ve seen in terms of the public’s recognition.”
He indicated about 75 percent of Americans believe the threat of global warming is real, more than ever before.
No magic bullet
Mann is optimistic global warming can be slowed because young people have passion about addressing the problem and an increasing number of Republicans are beginning to speak out in support. He said there is a splintering of the opposition who want to do nothing.
Yet he said: “We still have a science committee in the House of Representatives that rejects the science of climate change. We have to get past that bad faith debate and on to a worthy debate about what to do about this problem.”
There is no magic bullet to solve the problem, according to Mann, but it will require a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels to non-carbon based sources of energy.
He also said the worldwide problem will not be solved if only the United States and Europe reduce CO2 emissions.
“China and India rapidly are becoming major emitters.” He said the industrialized world has to exert moral leadership. “If we aren’t willing to do what is necessary to get our own house in order, we don’t have the moral authority to be telling developing nations that they too aren’t entitled to two centuries of free fossil fuel burning like we benefited from. Who are we to tell the developing world they’re not entitled to cheap dirt energy like we were if we’re not willing to take these actions ourselves?”
The renewable energy association that hosted Mann’s lecture holds free public programs every month in TEK Park along Hamilton Boulevard. For more about the organization and its programs, check at www.themarea.org.