Announcing the New Point of Inquiry, Featuring Michael Mann

By Chris Mooney | February 26, 2010 4:14 pm

mann_treeringIt’s live here, and here’s part of the show description:

For the scientists who study global warming, now is the winter of their despair.

In the news, it has been climate scandal after alleged climate scandal.  First came “ClimateGate,” then “GlacierGate,” “Amazon Gate,” and so on.  In public opinion polls, meanwhile, Americans’ acceptance of the science of global warming appears to be declining.  Even a freak snowstorm now seems to sow added doubt about this rigorous body of research.

In response to growing public skepticism—and a wave of dramatic attacks on individual researchers—the scientific community is now bucking up to more strongly defend its knowledge.  Leading the charge is one of the most frequently attacked researchers of them all—Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann.

In this interview with host Chris Mooney, Mann pulls no punches.  He defends the fundamental scientific consensus on climate change, and explains why those who attack it consistently miss the target.  He also answers critics of his “hockey stick” study, and explains why the charges that have arisen in “ClimateGate” seem much more smoke than fire.

Once again, the show is here, and you can subscribe on iTunes for further episodes…

Update: The show airs just in time, apparently; Joe Romm documents yet another unfair and bogus attack on Mann, this time from the Wall Street Journal….

Comments (16)

  1. SLC

    OT but isn’t Mr. Mooney going to tell his audience about his winning a Templeton Fellowship?

  2. gillt

    A few highlights:

    Michael Mann does not accommodate any aspect of AGW denialism/skepticism.

    greenhouse effect is uncontroversial, and undeniable.

    Models match what is happening.

    There is no evidence that calls into question the basic radiative properties of greenhouse gasses.

    Debate between scientists involves feed-backs, processes that might increase or decrease warming, e.g., Cloud effects, El Nino, Tropical Storms, these are the specifics.

    AGW denialism uses a Big Tobacco style strategies to manufacture controversy over the science.

    Denialists look for small flaws in analysis to discredit the entire work or line of evidence. This is stupid and incorrect.

    The hockeystick is not central to AGW, so even if denialists have been successful (and they haven’t) in taking down the hockeystick model it wouldn’t undermine the central case for the science.

    All claims that data wasn’t in the public domain is dishonest.

    Mann: “we’ve made the decision to provide all the code to the public domain at the time we publish a paper. Btw., this is exceptional among scientists.”

  3. JS

    Congratulations on your being awarded the Templeton Fellowship for journalism, Chris. Are you going to announce it here?

  4. Sean McCorkle

    Riveting interview.

  5. I don’t see this one listed on iTunes…

  6. GM

    OT but isn’t Mr. Mooney going to tell his audience about his winning a Templeton Fellowship?

    I was about to ask the same thing but the previous thread was not appropriate for such a discussion, so I second that here

  7. Neil Craig

    If Michael Mann is claiming there is a scientific consensus on catastrophic warming perhaps he will be able to answer a question 10s of thousands of people have been unable to.

    I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the high thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here.

    There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus it with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

    The next “scientific consensus” that needs examination is the “no lower threshold” (LNT) theory that low doses of radiation are deadly. This has allowed hysteria to prevent cheap & plentiful electricity for the world for 40 years. Yet not only is there no evidence whatsoever for it there is massive evidence for the opposite theory, known as hormesis, that it is beneficial

  8. Thomas H.

    Ah, the Templeton Foundation, the only thing that can make New Atheists dismiss something eithout even the slightest consideration, just like a denialist dismisses science….

  9. bilbo

    Congrats on the fellowship award, Chris! I’m honestly looking forward to this. You make the New Atheist groupthink drones freak if you even exhale too quickly nowadays, so this should send them into full-on fit-throwing mode.

    Back on topic: excellent interview, although I’m sure denialists will just say Mann was lying the whole time….

  10. Deech56

    RE Neil Craig

    Interesting

    There’s more. Bot’s working pretty well.

    Excellent interview, Chris. Any news about rescheduling your NIH appearance? (I apologize if I missed anything.)

  11. GM

    Ah, the Templeton Foundation, the only thing that can make New Atheists dismiss something eithout even the slightest consideration, just like a denialist dismisses science….

    The Templeton Foundation has a long history of investing heavily into spreading misinformation about the relationships between religion and science. The same is true about Mr. Mooney, although to a lesser extent. What exactly is there to make us think it will be different this time?

  12. Oliver

    Interesting interview – I never heard that there were 40 FOIA requests to CRU over a single weekend before. That’s not a good state of affairs.

    I confess that I count myself among the skeptics of catastrophic warming scenarios. I do find Dr. Mann to be disingenuous w/respect to his claim of being a pure scientist with little or no political skill. Throughout the interview he is using the exact terminology and overall messaging strategy (insert derogatory term, rinse, repeat…) espoused by the Center for American Progress, injecting ‘anti-science disinformer’ or similar qualifying phrases in many of his comments. He should stick to the science and quit following CAP’s messaging advice to him – it is transparent and only serves to weaken his overall position (with the exception, perhaps, of the more extreme environmental crowd who might be energized by such rhetoric).

    OT, but it seems like Cap & Trade is dead. Good. Now maybe we can move on and make some significant progress on the energy front. Climate change arguments simply aren’t needed to pressure the populace to sign up to forward-thinking energy policies. It’s like adding a 4th weak leg to a perfectly serviceable 3-legged stool – it not only doesn’t help, it actually subtracts from the desired outcome.

  13. ChrisD

    @Neil Craig:

    I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the high thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here.

    Your inability to locate any members in a subset of an empty set is not particularly shocking. I can’t think of any scientists who claim that we’re “seeing” (as in right now) a catastrophic degree of warming. Gosh, not even the paid shills of the vast, shadowy, and all-powerful scientists’ lobby make that claim.

    If there were anything approaching a consensus it with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true, let alone 2.

    Oh, gawd. How many times, exactly, does the OISM petition have to be deconstructed before the so-called “skeptics” will stop touting it? How many nurses, cosmeticians, mining engineers, TV weathermen, and veterinary surgeons specializing in large animals must be found in that list before there is even the dimmest comprehension that it just might be a a bit of a sham? 10,000? 20,000? 30,000? How many?

    Here’s a hint: No message that references the OISM petition will ever be taken seriously. Not ever. It’s a red flag, crime scene tape, and a warning klaxon, all at once. It’s instant, positive proof that you haven’t spent two minutes looking into it, which pretty much renders moot anything else you have to say. This is a complex topic, and if you don’t understand something so utterly simple, well, it just doesn’t speak well of the scope of your research into the subject.

  14. bilbo

    Ah, the Templeton Foundation, the only thing that can make New Atheists dismiss something eithout even the slightest consideration, just like a denialist dismisses science

    Then we get: “The Templeton Foundation has a long history of investing heavily into spreading misinformation about the relationships between religion and science. The same is true about Mr. Mooney, although to a lesser extent. What exactly is there to make us think it will be different this time?” (By “misinformation,” of course, you mean “opinions I don’t agree with.”)

    See, Thomas? You were right on the money.

  15. Chris Mooney

    Yes, I am a Templeton Cambridge journalism fellow for 2010, and details on the program are here.

    http://www.templeton-cambridge.org/

    Past fellows include Sandra Blakeslee, Juliet Eilperin, Marc Kaufman, Rob Stein, William Saletan, John Horgan, George Johnson, Shankar Vedantam, and many other top science journalists. I’m honored to join their number.

    I will do another post on this, I suppose, but please keep this one on topic from here on out. And thanks, folks, for the congrats.

  16. Neil Craig

    Well Chris I acept your word that you wuill never attempt to answer any question raised by anybody who mentions the Oregon Petition. But then I very much doubt if you would have been able to name 2 real independent scientists who support this scam anyway – as I have pointed out nobody else can.

    Not being a complete hypocrit you will, of course, be on record as having benn very much more critical of the “Union of Concerned Scientists” (membership open to absolutely anybody with $25) regularly trotted out by scaremongers as if they were some sort of union of scientists.

    No? Imagine my surprise :-)

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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