Real News Network interviewed climate scientist Michael Mann, who has come under vicious and persistent attack by right-wing groups who decided to play a reductivist game and focus their attack on one chart Mann developed which became important in popular discussions of climate change.
One of the things that I find remarkable is when some readers at NC and people in the comments section at other sites claim that climate scientists are saying climate change is real and in large measure caused by human activity either because that’s a profitable position for them to take or that they are under peer pressure. As for the “follow the money” notion, the oil industry has vastly deeper pockets than any other industry group involved in this debate and has been actively funding anti-climate change PR, some of it pretty crassly. For instance, from a 2007 post:
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world’s largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered…
The letters, sent to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere, attack the UN’s panel as “resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work” and ask for essays that “thoughtfully explore the limitations of climate model outputs”.
Climate scientists described the move yesterday as an attempt to cast doubt over the “overwhelming scientific evidence” on global warming. “It’s a desperate attempt by an organisation who wants to distort science for their own political aims,” said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
“The IPCC process is probably the most thorough and open review undertaken in any discipline. This undermines the confidence of the public in the scientific community and the ability of governments to take on sound scientific advice,” he said.”
As for peer pressure, reader sittingstill pointed out,
As a scientist myself, in a field overcrowded with Phd’s jockeying for limited positions, I’ve noticed the opposite of what you describe – there is a sizable vocal subset of professionals that will go far out on theoretical contrarian limbs in order to professionally distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd. This is much more pronounced in fields of study where the theory is more ambiguous than AGW. Conversely, the effect is less pronounced where the underlying theory is less ambiguous. On a macro scale, AGW fits best into this latter category. Timing and degree, though likely more severe than we want to hope, are still up for debate, but not the central tenet. I know many clear thinking scientists who switched over from the skeptical side 10 years ago.
And finally, Real News Network’s summary of Mann’s bio:
Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).
Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2012 and was awarded the National Conservation Achievement Award for science by the National Wildlife Federation in 2013. He made Bloomberg News’ list of fifty most influential people in 2013. He is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.
Dr. Mann is author of more than 160 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published two books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.