Author makes case for rising temperatures


While climate change may stir controversy, one professor attempts to clear the debate by explaining rising temperatures with a hockey stick.

Michael E. Mann, a professor in the Department of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, came to speak about his book, “The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines,” yesterday at the Cook Campus Center, referring to the climate of the Medieval Era.

“The hockey stick is a graph that my co-authors and I published more than a decade ago, which was an attempt to find how the temperature of the earth has changed over 1,000 years,” Mann said.

He authored a report in 2001 involving climate change, in which the curve of the temperate resembled a hockey stick.

“It quickly became an icon in the climate change debate because it told such a simple story,” he said. “You didn’t need to understand the physics of how a climate model works to understand what this graph is telling you.”

On the other side of the debate, Mann said he and his colleagues encountered deniers and detractors of the hockey stick.

“It represented a threat to the special interests who have been working for decades, who have been trying to stall any efforts to regulate carbon emissions,” he said.

The decade-long attack has pressed on to discredit evidence from climate change alarmists, Mann said.

“A day doesn’t go by where there isn’t something published on a blog or on a website even in the news media that perpetuates some myth about climate change, often where my work is somehow involved,” Mann said.

 “What keeps me going in fighting back is that I do get so much support from not just friends and family, but from distinguished scientists that I have never met just to thank me for defending the science,” Mann said.

Climate change talks should turn to solving the problem, he said.

“Whether it’s cap and trade or carbon tax, and what sort of national treaties are appropriate,” he said. “These are all worthy topics for discussion, but we can’t even have [them] … as long as some of our most prominent politicians deny that climate change exists.”

He said Gov. Chris Christie has a positive approach to the issue and accepts that something needs to be done about climate change.

“This doesn’t need to be a political issue. It shouldn’t be a left versus right issue,” he said. “We all stand to lose out.”

Kenneth Miller, professor in the University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the lecture was a great opportunity for students to hear from researchers who deal with the politics of science.

“There’s a moment when you can see the human in him, and he almost choked up, and you don’t get that by watching TED, watching YouTube, reading a book or even from hearing it from me,” Miller said.

Amanda Sorensem, a University graduate student, said the speech was eye-opening and gave her a new perspective on her research about the effects of climate change on animals.

“We don’t ever think about the policy, the human dimension,” she said. “It focuses around climate, but this is more about how to deal with policy and how policy affects climate habits in the United States and how [that] affects people.”

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