Mann Overboard: Reptiles to the Rescue

Here’s a few choice quotes from Michael Mann’s new book: The New Climate War: 

P2 Joined by billionaire plutocrats like the Koch brothers, the Mercers, the Scaifes, companies such as ExxonMobil funneled billions of dollars into a disinformation campaign beginning in the late 1980s, working to discredit the science behind human-caused climate change and its linkage with fossil-fuel burning.

P3 Decades later, thanks to that campaign, we are now witnessing the devastating effects of unchecked climate change. We see them played out in the daily news cycle, on our television screens, in our newspaper headlines, and in our social media feeds. Coastal inundation, withering heat waves and droughts, devastating floods, raging wildfires: this is the face of dangerous climate change. It’s a face that we increasingly recognise.

You’ll note a couple of unreferenced lies already: The “billions” only exist in a paper by Brulle that added up all the money the Kochs etc. give to all the projects they fund, anytime on any subject. Bezos & co., on the other hand, do give billions. The claim that we can see devastating effects of unchecked climate change on social media feeds could do with fact checking by those same social media.

But Mann only really gets into his stride on page 4:

Using online bots and trolls, manipulating social media and Internet search engines, the enemy has deployed the sort of cyber-weaponry honed during the 2016 US presidential election. They are the same tactics that gave us a climate-change-denying US president in Donald Trump. Malice, hatred, jealousy, fear, rage, bigotry, all of the most base, reptilian brain impulses – corporate polluters and their allies have waged a campaign to tap into all of that seeking to sow division within the climate movement while generating fear and outrage on the part of their “base” – the disaffected right.

I’ll keep adding to this as and when I can, so all you reptilian-brained bots and trolls can copy and paste and continue the good work of sowing division. And don’t forget to add a dose of malice, hatred, jealousy, fear, rage, and bigotry.

[Here’s some more]

P5 The enemy is also employing PSYOP inits war on climate action. It has promoted the narrative that climate-change impacts will be mild, innocuous, and easily adapted to. Undermining any sense of urgency, while at the same time promoting the inevitability of climate change to dampen any sense of agency. This effort has been aided and abetted by individuals who are ostensibly climate champions but have portrayed catastrophe as a fait accompli, either by overstating the damage to which we are already committed, by dismissing the possibility of mobilising the action necessary to avert disaster, or by setting the standard so high (say, the very overthrow of market economics itself, that old chestnut) that any action seems doomed to failure. The enemy has been more than happy to amplify such notions. 

So there’s not only a rightwing enemy without funded by billionaire plutocrats, but also an enemy within which seeks to overthrow market economics. It’s looking bad.

But all is not lost. In this book, I aim to debunk false narratives that have derailed attempts to curb climate change and arm readers with a real path forward to preserving our planet. Our civilisation can be saved, but only if we learn to recognise the current tactics of the enemy – that is, the forces of inaction – and how to combat them.

With all this talk of “enemies” and “combat,” isn’t Mann laying himself open to charges of inciting insurrection?

My decades on the front lines of the battled to communicate the science of climate change and its implications have provided me with some unique insights. The “hockey stick” was the name that was given to a curve my colleagues and I published in 1998 demonstrating the steep uptick in planetary temperatures over the past century. The graph achieved iconic status in the climate-change debate because it told a simple story, namely, that we were causing unprecedented warming of the planet by burning fossil fuels and pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Decades later, the hockey-stick curve is still attacked despite the many studies that have not only reaffirmed but extended our findings. Why? Because it remains a threat to vested interests.

The attacks on the hockey stick in the late 1990s drew me – then a young scientist – into the fray. In the process of defending myself and my work from politically motivated attacks, I became a reluctant and involuntary combatant in the climate wars. I’ve seen the enemy up close, in battle, for two decades now. I know how it operates and what tactics it uses. And I’ve been monitoring the dramatic shifts in those tactics over the past few years in response to the changing nature of the battlefield. I have adapted to those shifting tactics, changing how I engage the public and policymakers in my own efforts to inform and impact the public discourse. It is …

That’s all from the introduction on Amazon. On to “Chapter 1: The Architects of Misinformation and Misdirection.”

Imagine if this had been obtained by a hacker from private emails! Imagine revealing the inner workings of the tortured mind of an individual convinced he’s been under attack from all sides, on ever changing battlefields, for over twenty years. Private Mann surely deserves some furlough on compassionate grounds.

34 thoughts on “Mann Overboard: Reptiles to the Rescue

  1. Cryin’ fire in a crowded
    theatre, impelled by malice,
    trickery, ambition, mann
    oh mann, who would not, could
    not, show his workings, one
    tree-ring to rule them all,
    one crooked bristle-cone
    to change the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking like full-on cult belief now. Already here, there are three top emotive hit-points that cultures do: ‘Merchants of doubt’, ‘Apocalypse now’, and the evergreen favourite ‘Reptilian-brained evil enemy’ (aka
    blatant dehumanization). I’m betting that you’ll find some more of the typical crew: ‘Engaging anxiety for children’ is a hot one, ‘Agenda incorporation’ (hmmm… already covered in part via a call against the ‘disaffected right’), ‘Fear plus hope’ (he’s done the fear already, but there’ll be a place where it specifically couples to hope, giving a powerful emotive cocktail), Moral association (wow… he’s already in there with ‘bigotry’ and ‘polluters’, I guess there’ll be more, especially wrt ‘justice’, ‘immoral’, ‘sacred duty’ or similar, ‘crime against humanity’, ‘wilful denial’ [of course, along with ‘denialism’], ‘madness’, ‘greed’ [partly this is covered in merchants of doubt’], ‘crime against / raping nature’, and more), ‘Terminal metaphor’ (beloved of various advocate scientists, and so powerful), ‘Emotively overwhelmed conditionals’ (actually, maybe not, these only occur where there’s still at least some nod to reality!), and so on. Science has no chance whatsoever of surviving within an environment dominated by these emotive biases.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Serfette
    I loved “one tree-ring to rule them all”

    Patty Fake, Patty Fake,
    Faker’s Mann;
    That I will graph,
    As fast as I can;
    Pat it and change it,
    And mark it with a P,
    And there will be enough for Philly and me.

    Singer beneath Bridges


  4. How is he able to maintain this level of invective and paranoia? As a torrent of frenzied word-salad, it even goes beyond the levels achieved by writers such as Marina Hyde or Jonathan Meades. It is exhausting to read and difficult to combat because there is no real argument to contend with, just a stream of assertions without supporting evidence

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m quite surprised that Mann hasn’t worked out the true motivations of us reptilian-brained deniers. It’s not fossil fuel vested interests so much as actually wanting a hothouse earth where our reptilian brains – being exothermic – can thrive and outperform the slower endothermic mammalian-brained climate change believers. The hotter it gets, the sharper we get, whereas the monkey-brains start to wilt in the heat and their thinking gets befuddled. It’s all about survival.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. So indeed he adds ‘hope and fear’, plus ‘5th column’ and ‘deep personal / emotive identification with the issue’, the latter two variants I missed from the above list.


  7. Chapter 1: “The Architects of Misinformation and Misdirection” is about a lot of other things that climate change denial is like. Here it is, with the beginning of chapter 2

    THE ORIGINS OF THE ONGOING CLIMATE WARS LIE IN DISINFORMATION campaigns waged decades ago, when the findings of science began to collide with the agendas of powerful vested interests. These campaigns were aimed at obscuring public understanding of the underlying science and discrediting the scientific message, often by attacking the messengers themselves—that is, the scientists whose work hinted that we might have a problem on our hands. Over the years, tactics were developed and refined by public relations agents employed to undermine facts and scientifically based warnings.

    Our journey takes us all the way back to the late nineteenth century, to Thomas Stockmann, an amateur scientist in a small Norwegian town. The local economy was dependent on tourism tied to the town’s medicinal hot springs. After discovering that the town’s water supply was being polluted by chemicals from a local tannery, Stockmann was thwarted in his efforts to alert the townspeople of the threat, first when the local paper refused to publish an article he had written about his findings, then when he was shouted down as he attempted to announce his findings at a town meeting. He and his family were treated as outcasts. His daughter was expelled from school, and the townspeople stoned his home, breaking all the windows and terrifying his family. They considered leaving town but decided to stay, hoping—in vain—that the townspeople would ultimately come around to accepting, and indeed appreciating, his dire warnings.

    That’s the plot of the 1882 Henrik Ibsen play An Enemy of the People (made into a film in 1978 that starred Steve McQueen in one of his final and arguably finest performances). The story is fictional, but it depicts a conflict that would be familiar to audiences in the late nineteenth century. The eerie prescience of this tale today, when an anti-science president dismisses the media as an “enemy of the American people,” and conservative politicians knowingly allow an entire city to be endangered by a lead-poisoned water supply, has not been lost on some observers.1 An Enemy of the People is the canonical cautionary tale of the clash between science and industrial or corporate interests. And it serves as an apt metaphor for the climate wars that would take place a century later.

    But before we get there, let us next flash-forward to the mid-twentieth century, where we encounter the granddaddy of modern industry disinformation campaigns. This campaign was orchestrated by tobacco industry leaders in their effort to hide evidence of the addictive and deadly nature of their product. “Doubt is our product,” confessed a Brown and Williamson executive in 1969.2 The memo containing the admission was eventually released as part of a massive legal settlement between the tobacco industry and the US government. This and other internal documents showed that the companies’ own scientists had established the health threats of smoking as early as the 1950s. Nevertheless, the companies chose to engage in an elaborate campaign to hide those threats from the public.

    Tobacco interests even hired experts to discredit the work of other researchers who had arrived at the very same conclusions. Chief among these attack dogs was Frederick Seitz, a solid-state physicist who was also the former head of the US National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Science. Those impressive credentials made him a valuable asset for the tobacco industry. Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds would eventually hire Seitz and pay him half a million dollars to use his scientific standing and stature to attack any and all science (and scientists) linking tobacco to human health problems.3 Seitz was the original science-denier-for-hire. There would be many more.

    Pesticide manufacturers adopted the tobacco industry’s playbook in the 1960s, after Rachel Carson warned the public of the danger that DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) posed to the environment. Her classic 1962 book Silent Spring ushered in the modern environmental movement.4 Carson described how DDT was decimating populations of bald eagles and other birds by thinning their eggs and killing the embryos within. The pesticide was accumulating in food webs, soils, and rivers, creating an increasingly dire threat to wildlife—and ultimately, humans. Eventually, the United States banned DDT, but not until 1972.
    Carson was awarded for her efforts with a full-on character assassination campaign by industry groups who denounced her as “radical,” “communist,” and “hysterical” (with all its misogynist connotations—misogyny, and racism as well, as we will see, have become inextricably linked to climate-change denialism). The president of Monsanto, the largest producer of DDT, denounced her as “a fanatic defender of the cult of the balance of nature.”5 Her critics even labeled her a mass murderer.6 Even today, the industry front group known as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) continues to defame the long-deceased scientist by insisting that “millions of people around the world suffer the painful and often deadly effects of malaria because one person sounded a false alarm. That person is Rachel Carson.”7 What Carson’s posthumous attackers don’t want you to know is that Carson never called for a ban on DDT, just an end to its indiscriminate use. It was ultimately phased out not because of the environmental damages that Carson exposed but because it had steadily lost its effectiveness as mosquitoes grew resistant to it. That was something that Carson, ironically, had warned would happen as a result of overuse.8 And here we are thus afforded an early example of how the short-sighted practices of greedy corporations looking to maximize near-term profits often prove self-defeating.

    Credibility and integrity are a scientist’s bread and butter and greatest asset. It is the currency that allows scientists to serve as trusted communicators to the public. That’s why the forces of denial targeted Carson directly, accusing her of all manner of scientific misconduct. In response to the controversy, President John F. Kennedy convened a committee to review Carson’s claims. The committee published its report in May 1963, exonerating her and her scientific findings.9 Science denialists are never deterred by pesky things like “facts,” however. And so the attacks continue today. Consider a 2012 commentary that appeared in conservative Forbes magazine entitled “Rachel Carson’s Deadly Fantasies,” by Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko. Miller and Conko are Fellows at the aforementioned Competitive Enterprise Institute. Miller is also a scientific advisory board member of an industry front group known as the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI), and, unsurprisingly, a tobacco industry advocate.10 In the piece, they accuse Carson of “gross misrepresentations,” “atrocious” scholarship, and “egregious academic misconduct,” despite the fact that her scientific findings have been overwhelmingly affirmed by decades of research.11 Though bird populations continue to be imperiled by pesticides, more sonorous springs did largely return. And for that, we owe a great debt of gratitude to Rachel Carson.12

    Due to the work of Carson and other scientists studying the effects of industrial toxins on humans and the environment, awareness of other threats emerged in the 1970s. Lead pollution generated by the gasoline and paint industries, for example, came under scrutiny. Enter Herbert Needleman, whose story is disturbingly reminiscent of Thomas Stockmann’s from Ibsen’s play. Needleman was a professor and researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His research identified a link between environmental lead contamination and childhood brain development. Sounding a familiar note, lead industry advocates sought to discredit him and his research, engaging in a character assassination campaign that included unfounded accusations against him of scientific misconduct.13He was exonerated—twice. The first exoneration was the result of a thorough investigation by the National Institutes of Health. Then, in what might sound like the scientific equivalent of double jeopardy, there was a separate investigation by his university, during which he was locked out of his own files, with bars placed on his file cabinets. No evidence of impropriety ever emerged. His research on how to detect chronic lead exposure—validated by numerous independent studies in the intervening decades—likely has saved thousands of lives and prevented brain damage in thousands more.14 “Enemy of the People” indeed.


    In the 1970s and 1980s we begin to see the emergence of truly global environmental threats, including acid rain and ozone depletion. Industry groups whose bottom line might be impacted by environmental regulations began to significantly step up their attacks on the science demonstrating these dangers, and of course on the scientists themselves.
    Frederick Seitz—the granddaddy of denialism who was enlisted by the tobacco industry in its war on science—was provided lavish industry funding in the mid-1980s to create the George C. Marshall Institute.15 Seitz recruited as partners astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (founder of the venerable NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and oceanographer William Nierenberg (onetime director of the revered Scripps Institution for Oceanography in La Jolla, California). These three individuals, as Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway noted in their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, were what could be called free-market fundamentalists. None of them had training in environmental science. What they did possess was an ideological distrust of efforts to limit what they saw as the freedom of individuals or corporations. As such, they played willfully into the agenda of regulation-averse special interests.16 Borrowing from the very same tactics Seitz had cut his teeth on as a tobacco industry attack dog a decade earlier, the GMI crew would sow doubt in the areas of science that proved threatening to the powerful vested interests they represented.

    One of these scientific issues was acid rain, a phenomenon I’m intimately familiar with, having grown up in New England during the 1970s. At that time, lakes, rivers, streams, and forests throughout eastern North America were being destroyed by increasingly acidic rainfall. The scientist Gene Likens and others discovered the origins of the problem: midwestern coal-fired power plants that were producing sulfur dioxide pollution. Likens would later become the “environmental sustainability czar” for the University of Connecticut.

    In April 2017, I gave a lecture at the University of Connecticut in which I revealed some of my own experiences in the crosshairs of the climate-change-denial machine. At the dinner following the lecture, Likens was seated next to me. He turned to me and said, “Your stories sound a lot like mine!” As we ate our salads, he regaled me with stories that were disturbingly familiar: nasty letters and complaints to his bosses; hostile reception by conservative politicians; attacks from industry-funded hatchet men and politicians seeking to discredit his scientific findings. As Likens said some years ago in an interview, “It was bad. It was really nasty. I had a contract put out on me.”

    Likens was referring to a coal industry trade group known as the Edison Electric Institute that had offered nearly half a million dollars to anybody willing to discredit him.17 William Nierenberg, the aforementioned member of the GMI trio, in essence took up that challenge when Ronald Reagan appointed him to chair a panel investigating the acid rain issue. The facts, however, proved stubborn, and the panel’s conclusions, published in a 1984 report, largely reaffirmed the findings of Likens and other scientific experts. But hidden away in an appendix written by a contrarian scientist, S. Fred Singer, was a passage suggesting that, as Oreskes and Conway put it, “we really didn’t know enough to move forward with emissions controls.” The passage was just dismissive enough to allow the Reagan administration to justify its policy of inaction.18

    Fortunately, the forces of denial and inaction did not prevail. Americans recognized the problem and demanded action, and politicians ultimately responded. That’s precisely how things are supposed to work in a representative democracy. In 1990, it was a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, who signed the Clean Air Act, which required coal-fired power plants to scrub sulfur emissions before they exited the smokestacks. He even introduced a vehicle known as “cap and trade,” a market-based mechanism that allows polluters to buy and sell a limited allotment of pollution permits. Cap-and-trade policy is, ironically, now pilloried by most Republicans. It was the brainchild of Bush’s EPA administrator, William K. Reilly, a modern environmental hero whom I’m proud to know and call my friend.

    My family frequently goes on vacation to Big Moose Lake in the western Adirondacks. My wife’s family has been going there for seventy years. Her parents remember back in the 1970s when the lake was so acidic you literally didn’t need to take any showers. A jump in the lake would clean you right off. The waters were crystal clear, because they were lifeless. The wildlife has returned now—I see and hear it when we’re there, from the bugs to the fish and frogs to the ducks and snapping turtles, along with the haunting sound of the loons. You sometimes see small teams of scientists out in boats collecting samples of the water in the various lakes, examining its chemistry and contents. The affected ecosystems still haven’t recovered completely. Environmental pollution can disrupt food chains, forest ecosystems, and water and soil chemistry in a way that can persist for decades or centuries even after the pollutants themselves are gone. But we are on the road to recovery in the Adirondacks, thanks—dare I say it—to market-based mechanisms for solving an environmental problem.

    In the 1980s, scientists recognized that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used at the time in spray cans and refrigerators, were responsible for the growing hole in the ozone layer in the lower stratosphere that protects us from damaging, high-energy ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The erosion of the ozone layer brought with it an increasing incidence of skin cancer and other adverse health impacts in the Southern Hemisphere. My friend Bill Brune, former head of the Department of Meteorology at Penn State, was one of the original scientists researching the relevant atmospheric chemistry. As he has written, “Some of the scientists who carried out this seminal research decided to become advocates for action to mitigate the likely harm from a depleted ozone layer. These scientist-advocates were subjected to intense criticism.”19 That criticism, as Bill noted, took several forms: “Manufacturers, users, and their government representatives initiated public relations campaigns designed not to illuminate but to obscure, to throw doubt on the hypothesis and the weight of scientific evidence, and to otherwise convince lawmakers and the public that the data were too uncertain to act upon.” He added, “When results inevitably began to refute their views, or whenever their own work was proven wrong or rejected for publication, these contrarian scientists, government representatives, and industry spokesmen then changed tactics, to denigrate the entire peer-review process.” Among those contrarian scientists was the very same S. Fred Singer we encountered in the context of acid rain denial. Get used to that name.

    Disregarding the naysayers, in 1987 forty-six countries—including the United States under Reagan—signed the Montreal Protocol, banning the production of CFCs. Since then, the ozone hole has shrunk to its smallest extent in decades. Environmental policy actuallyworks. But, with both acid rain and ozone depletion, policy solutions came only because of unrelenting pressure on policymakers by citizens combined with continued bipartisan good faith and support on the part of politicians for systemic solutions to environmental threats. That good faith all but disappeared with the advent of the Trump administration. Indeed, after his 2016 election, Trump appointed individuals to important positions who not only denied the reality and threat of climate change but had played critical roles decades ago in industry-led efforts to deny both ozone depletion and acid rain. Think of them as all-purpose deniers-for-hire.20

    You might also call them spiritual successors of the George C. Marshall Institute, Frederick Seitz’s science-denying think tank. By the late 1980s, the GMI was largely focused on environmental issues. But as it happens, it was not acid rain or ozone depletion that brought the institute into existence in the first place. It was instead the threat that the findings of science posed to an entirely different vested interest: the military-industrial complex. During the late cold war, leading defense contractors, such as Lockheed-Martin and Northrop Grumman, were profiting from the escalating arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. They stood to benefit in particular from Reagan’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative, otherwise known as Star Wars, an antiballistic missile program designed to shoot down nuclear missiles in space. Standing in their way, however, was, quite literally, one lone scientist.


    Carl Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He was a respected, accomplished researcher with an impressive record of achievement in earth and planetary science. Sagan did seminal work on the “Faint Young Sun Paradox,” the surprising fact that Earth was habitable more than three billion years ago despite the fact that the Sun was 30 percent dimmer then. The explanation, Sagan realized, must be a magnified greenhouse effect. This work is so fundamental that it constitutes the first chapter in the textbook I’ve used to teach first-year Penn State students about Earth history.21

    Sagan, however, was far more than a scientist. He was cultural phenomenon. He had an unmatched ability to engage the public with science. Not only could he explain it to the person on the street, he could get people excited about it. I can speak to this matter on a personal level. It is Carl Sagan who inspired me to pursue a career in science.

    I had always had an aptitude for math and science, but it had constituted a path of least resistance, not a passion. Then Sagan’s popular PBS series Cosmos premiered at the start of my freshman year in high school. Sagan showed me the magic of scientific inquiry. He revealed a cosmos that was more wondrous than I could have imagined, and the preciousness of our place in it as simple inhabitants of a tiny blue dot just barely discernible from the outer reaches of our solar system. And the questions! How did life form? Is there more of it out there? Are there other intelligent civilizations? Why haven’t they contacted us? I pondered these questions and so many more that Sagan raised in the epic thirteen-part series. Sagan made me realize it was possible to spend a lifetime satisfying one’s scientific curiosity by posing and answering such fundamental existential questions.

    Sadly, I never got a chance to meet my hero. I finished my PhD in geology and geophysics in 1996, the very same year Sagan passed away. Being in the same field as Sagan, I almost certainly would have met him at meetings or conferences had I entered the profession just a few years earlier. But I have had the pleasure of getting to know him through his writings, and to make the acquaintance of some who knew him well. That includes his daughter, Sasha, a writer who is continuing her father’s legacy of inspiring us about the cosmos and our place in it.22

    Sagan was so compelling and charismatic a personality that he quickly became the voice of science for the nation. On Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, he would mesmerize national audiences with his observations, insights, and often amusing anecdotes. In so doing, he literally knocked Carson’s previous go-to science guy out of the lineup for good.23 That was none other than astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, the aforementioned GMI cofounder. Which brings us back to the main thrust of our story.
    Carl Sagan became increasingly political in the 1980s as he recognized the mounting threat of a nuclear arms race. He used his public prominence, media savvy, and unrivaled communication skills to raise awareness about the existential threat posed by a global thermonuclear war. Sagan explained to the public that the threat went well beyond the immediate death and destruction and the resulting nuclear radiation. The massive detonation of nuclear warheads during a thermonuclear war, Sagan and his colleagues argued in the scientific literature, might produce enough dust and debris to block out a sufficient amount of sunlight to induce a state of perpetual winter, or, as they termed it, “nuclear winter.”24

    Humanity, in short, might suffer the same fate the dinosaurs encountered following a massive asteroid impact: a sunlight-blocking dust storm that ended their reign sixty-five million years ago. Sagan helped bring about public understanding of that scenario through his various media interviews and in an article for the widely read Sunday newspaper insert Parade magazine.

    Sagan feared that Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, which many cold war hawks and military contractors supported, would lead to an escalation of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union and a dangerous buildup in nuclear arms, portending the very nuclear winter scenario he so feared. But, as Oreskes and Conway noted in Merchants of Doubt, the cold war–era physicists at GMI saw these legitimate concerns about SDI as scare tactics employed by Soviet-sympathizing peaceniks.25 In their eyes, the very concept of nuclear winter was a threat to our security. Working with conservative politicians and industry special interests, the GMI trio sought to discredit the case for concern by going directly after the underlying science—first by discrediting the scientist, Carl Sagan, personally. The attacks took place in congressional briefings and in the pages of mainstream newspapers, where they solicited and wrote articles and op-eds to debunk the findings of Sagan and his colleagues. This campaign even included intimidating public television stations that considered running a program on nuclear winter.26

    Here’s why Sagan’s anti-SDI campaign is germane to the central topic of this book: The nuclear winter simulations that Sagan and his colleagues conducted were based on early-generation global climate models. So if you didn’t like the science of nuclear winter, you reallyweren’t going to like the science of climate change, which revealed the culpability of the same powerful polluting interests that groups like GMI were defending. With the collapse of the cold war in the late 1980s, the GMI crew, as Oreskes and Conway noted, needed another issue to focus on. Acid rain and ozone depletion would keep them busy through the early 1990s. But as these matters faded from view (in substantial part because even Republicans—as noted earlier—ultimately supported action), GMI and like-minded critics needed another scientific boogeyman to justify their existence. Climate change surely fit the bill.

    CHAPTER 2: The Climate War AND SO, IT BEGINS

    In the early 1990s I was a graduate student working on my PhD in the field of climate science within the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. I had been lured away from the Physics Department, where I had been studying the behavior of matter at the quantum scale. Instead, I would now study the behavior of our climate system at the global scale. For an ambitious young physicist, climate science was the great western frontier. There were still big, wide-open questions where a young scientist with math and physics skills could make substantial contributions at the forefront of the science. This was my opportunity to realize the vision that Carl Sagan had instilled in me as a youth—a vision of science as a quest to understand our place in the larger planetary and cosmic environment.

    My PhD adviser was a scientist named Barry Saltzman, who played a key role in the discovery of the phenomenon of “chaos”—one of the great scientific developments of the twentieth century. Chaos is responsible, among other things, for the fact that one cannot predict the precise details of the weather beyond a week or so out. Barry was a skeptic—in the true and honest sense of the word. He was unconvinced in the early 1990s that we could establish the human impact on our climate. This was a tenable position then, given that the climate models being used were still quite crude and that the warming signal in the roughly one century of global temperature data was only perhaps just beginning to peek out from the background noise of natural variability.

    There were other scientists, such as James Hansen, the prominent director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (yes—the same institute that had previously been directed by none other than Robert Jastrow), who had a different view. Hansen felt that we could already demonstrate that human activity—specifically, the generation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas—was warming the planet. On a record hot June day in Washington, DC, in 1988, Hansen had testified to Congress, saying, “It is time to stop waffling.… [T]he evidence is pretty strong.” The Reagan administration had become increasingly unhappy with Hansen’s public statements even before that June day. As a NASA civil servant, he was subject to having his written congressional testimonies vetted by the administration, and starting in 1986, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget had repeatedly edited them in such a way as to downplay their impact. Exasperated, Hansen finally announced in bombshell 1989 testimony that his words were being altered by White House.1

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Singer beneath bridges, ‘fakers’ mann’, yes…

    “Ladies and gentlemen, voilla, before your very eyes, medieval warming period, puff, – gone!
    And now for my next trick, – from my empty hat I bring forth – a hockey stick.”


  9. Interesting that he says “For an ambitious young physicist, climate science was the great western frontier.” I seem to recall Lindzen telling the Commons committee that climate science attracted the duffers – the best students wanted to read physics


  10. Don’t you just love the way Mann tries to assume the mantle of those genuinely concerned environmentalists and conservationists around in the 60s, 70s and 80s and in so doing demonises climate change sceptics as the destroyers of the environment and ultimately the planet. His tactics are just so blunt, so unsophisticated, so obvious, so boringly familiar but he’s obviously aiming at a new, more gullible younger audience who may be sucked in by what to us seasoned sceptics are transparent falsehoods. It’s farcical that he brings up the acid rain scare and ozone hole in support of his allegedly squeaky clean environmentalist credentials. Those two scams were the forerunners of the global warming scam.

    On acid rain:

    “How dangerous was acid rain? The most comprehensive study was commissioned in 1980 by US president Jimmy Carter. The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Programme (NAPAP) examined the damage caused by acid rain and recommended solutions. In 1982 president Ronald Regan raised the annual budget for NAPAP to $100 million. The final cost of NAPAP, the most costly environmental study in US history, was $537 million.

    The situation turned out to be much more complex than had been predicted. The acidity of a lake is determined as much by the acidity of the local soil and vegetation as it is by acid rain. Many lakes in north-eastern America, dead in the 1980s, had plenty of fish in 1900. It was surmised by environmentalists that 20th-century sulphur dioxide emissions had choked these lakes to death with acid rain. But the NAPAP showed many of these lakes were acidic and fishless even before European settlement in America. Fish survived better in these lakes around 1900 because of extensive slash and burn logging in the area. The soil became more alkaline as the acid vegetation was removed, reducing the acid flowing into the lakes and making the water hospitable to fish. Logging stopped in 1915, acid soils and vegetation returned and the lakes became acidic again. The study also found that in many cases forests were suffering debilitation due to insects or drought and not acid rain.

    The NAPAP reported in 1990. The findings were explosive: first, acid rain had not injured forests or crops in US or Canada; second, acid rain had no observable effect on human health; third, only a small number of lakes had been acidified by acid rain and these could be rehabilitated by adding lime to the water. In summary, acid rain was a nuisance, not a catastrophe.

    The findings of NAPAP were not welcomed by the powers-that-be, many of whom had staked their reputations on the impending Clean Air Act which would call for drastic reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions. The NAPAP was ignored.”

    The last paragraph is somewhat ironic in light of Mann claiming that fossil fuel vested interests have worked so hard to deny or cover up inconvenient science and data which destroys their claims. Pot calling the kettle black methinks.



  11. ANDY WEST 17 Feb 21 12.06pm
    The exact emotive biases and the precise memes used in the book are difficult to predict, because, in 25 years on the battlefield, Mann seems to have become confused as to who the enemy is. He calls it BigOil of course, although it hasn’t fired a shot since 1995 and now claims to be an ally. And there’s no mention in the book’s index of the one enemy which actually defeated Mann on the battlefield (call it M&M) or the vast population of millions of jeering civilians who witnessed Mann’s defeat, and among whom the hidden enemy lurks like a fish in water (call us Skeps.) Mann seems to be aiming his artillery this time at those on his own side (call them GretaXR) who challenge the High Command (BigGov.) Mann’s own troops think that Skeps are BigOil who are in league with Big Gov and that they’re fighting for GretaXR, while Mann is trying to convince them that GretaXR, by attacking BigGov, is objectively on the side of BigOil. I don’t see an easy victory for the forces of good (whoever they are.)


  12. Reagan in 1981 blamed trees for more air pollution (and thus acid rain) than automobiles. As Jaime wrote, lake pH values in upper New York State were always acidic (and fish free), became more alkaline as a result of tree felling and resumed their acid nature when the area was protected and logging was stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Geoff: The exact emotive biases and the precise memes used in the book are difficult to predict…

    I guess so. But they usually have very simple generic roots. Per above he’s already hit 4 of the biggies square on, and partially covered a couple of others. Interesting that he so explicitly opposes GretaXR though, rather than turning a blind eye (more usual for strong adherents). Especially considering per the post by Mike D that he now approves of some Mark Jacobsen work, whereas he previously thought this path was nonsense; a significant shift to the wild side. Your summary does seem to indicate likely internal conflict though…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The Guardian (or perhaps the Observer, as it was on Sunday) reviewed this book, along with Bill Gates’ recent contribution:

    “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates; The New Climate War by Michael E Mann – review”


    I loved this paragraph from the review:

    “Mann criticises the practice of flight-shaming climate researchers, because it creates the false impression that experts have to experience personal sacrifice and deprivation to be taken seriously, regardless of how successful they are in persuading politicians to act. Despite the attention devoted to it, flying is responsible for about 3% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Guess who the reviewer was?

    “Bob Ward is policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Alan, I believe soils beneath pine forests are generally very acidic because of the pine needles, so it seems logical that runoff from forests into lakes in forested pine areas would also be very acidic. Broadleaved forests generally create more alkaline soils.


  16. Jaime, much of the acid rain story concerned lakes in the Adirondack Mountains (upper New York). The effects were particularly exaggerated there because all the rocks were granitic, containing few bases to offset the acidity.
    Most of the attention was placed on sulphur dioxide pollution. Nitric acid pollution was less mentioned because of course it is a fertiliser!


  17. Here’s Mann quoting from his own book a couple of hours ago on twitter:

    Maybe this is simply a manifestation of what environmental journalist Emily Atkin has referred to as the phenomenon of “first-time climate dudes.” It’s the tendency of members of a particular, privileged demographic group (primarily middle- aged, also exclusively white men) to think they can just swoop in,, surf the Internet, interview a few hand-selected “experts,” and solve the great problems that others have spent decades unable to crack. It is almost inevitable that the product, in the end, is a hot mess, consisting of fatally bad takes and misguided framing couched in deeply condescending mansplaining. On climate change, we’ve seen it with Bill Gates, Nate Silver, and now with Michael Moore.

    ..while we true scientists, he forgot to add, are scrabbling in the mud upsidedown at the bottom of Finnish lakes in search of Truth…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Heh, so he just hit another the list, ‘agenda incorporation’, typically another cultural agenda, that is. Seems he’s now leveraging Critical Race Theory too, a pernicious and racist ideology.


  19. quote from your post – “corporate polluters and their allies have waged a campaign to tap into all of that seeking to sow division within the climate movement while generating fear and outrage on the part of their “base” – the disaffected right.”

    ahh – “the climate movement” & Meaning (one) of disaffected in English “no longer supporting or being satisfied with an organization or idea”

    good old Mann – he can still get his balls up with his wood.


  20. I’ve been reading Mann’s new book. He advances the conspiracy theory that the Russians were involved with Climategate. He repeats the claim that timestamps show the emails were hacked from Russia. Steve McIntyre instantly debunked it:

    Liked by 2 people

  21. In the quotes above Mann repeats a false claim I’ve not seen corrected when he says:

    The “hockey stick” was the name that was given to a curve my colleagues and I published in 1998 demonstrating the steep uptick in planetary temperatures over the past century.

    The hockeystick paper doesn’t demonstrate the temperature uptick, it assumes it, taking it from the thermometer-based temperature record, and then demonstrates that global temperatures had been static for nine previous centuries by tacking proxy temperatures on the front end. It’s as if I tacked Einstein’s 1905 paper on to the end of this article and then claimed that my article demonstrates the theory of relativity.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Jaime. I had forgotten to add support for your view that the fall of pine needles creates acidity. UEA is sited on a previous municipal golf course. This was screened by extensive plantings of conifers and deciduous trees in separate but adjacent plantations. The plantations had the same original substrate- a chalky boulder clay and glacial meltwater sand, complexly mixed. This was ideal for teaching basic (and acidic) soil science. All signs of admixed chalk had been removed by root activity and needle fall from the conifer planted areas in contrast to adjacent deciduous plantings. The boundary between adjacent plantations was marked by a knife-sharp boundary in soil types. Even the fauna differed across these boundaries.

    This was the clearest evidence I had ever come across that the flora can determine soil type and, in the case of conifers mimic effects of acid rain. How could I have forgotten it, even temporarily?

    I wonder if JIT was shown this?

    Liked by 3 people

  23. One problem for Mann’s view that privileged white middle-aged males are the problem is that this description also applies to a large proportion of the “climate faithful”. It’s one bunch of white men fighting another bunch of white men. He’s not leaving any space for coloured trans people

    Liked by 1 person

  24. @ Alan, no we were not. Like geology, the ecologists’ grounding in soil was limited, despite it being foundational (excuse the poor quality of punning). Even now iron pans seem like magic to me.

    The decay of litter in particular is something that has interested me for a long time. This seems like an inconsequential matter to the uninitiated but it is really quite important. The effect of trees on soil is also not something that can be handwaved away. It resists generalisation. Conifer plantations decrease pH but broadleaved plantations increase it is one such generalisation that may not stand up to scrutiny because there are so many dimensions involved, only one of which is time.

    But for the Irish Times to describe acid rain as a “nuisance” maybe indicates (I may be way off) that the author of the piece is under 40. Some time ago I searched google scholar for mentions of acid rain by year, assuming that indeed this issue had long since been put to bed. Far from it – although the geographical locus of the studies had shifted somewhat.

    I’ve just found a review from 2020 “Acid rain and air pollution: 50 years of progress in environmental science and policy,” which I have not had a chance to read yet, but will find time for. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-019-01244-4


  25. We could do a whole new article (or several) on air pollution, acid rain, and the so-called ongoing ‘air pollution crisis’ and its tie-in with the ‘climate crisis’. The doomsters have a big problem: they claim that huge reductions in nitrous and sulhur dioxides from power stations ‘solved’ the acid rain problem in Europe and north America in the 80s and early 90s, admitting that clean air legislation has vastly improved air pollution in those regions. At the same time, they argue that we are currently in the midst of an ‘air pollution crisis’ and that we must urgently close fossil fuel power stations and ban petrol and diesel cars in order to protect our environment and our health. They’re even gunning for wood-burning stoves, claiming absurdly that they cause 3 times as much particulate pollution as traffic!



  26. @ Jaime following the plight of the Texans, installing a wood burner seems like a very good precautionary measure to me.

    Re: how good things are now compared to not *that* long ago, here’s a passage from my 35-year-old Ecology of Fresh Waters by Brian Moss:

    I remember well, as a child in the 1950s, watching from a bridge over the River Mersey, near my home in Stockport, a thick, brown, astringent-smelling water, eddying, rather fascinatingly, around the bridge stanchions. It was taking the effluent of tanneries, food processing, a gas-works, electroplating, oil and grease processing, a slaughter-house, cotton factories, bleachworks, dyeworks, lead-acid battery manufacture, paint and rubber works and the manufacturers of paper and glue. As small boys we added our mite from the parapet with no guilt whatsoever.


  27. Having spent more than a few winter mornings walking through a brown fog caused by the local Bessemer converters blowing, I tend to think that the idea of an ‘air pollution crisis’ is more than a little overblown. That’s even though I now live in London.


  28. Here you go:

    Climatologist Michael E Mann: ‘Good people fall victim to doomism. I do too sometimes'”


    “…You are a battle-scarred veteran of many climate campaigns. What’s new about the climate war?
    For more than two decades I was in the crosshairs of climate change deniers, fossil fuel industry groups and those advocating for them – conservative politicians and media outlets. This was part of a larger effort to discredit the science of climate change that is arguably the most well-funded, most organised PR campaign in history. Now we finally have reached the point where it is not credible to deny climate change because people can see it playing out in real time in front of their eyes.

    But the “inactivists”, as I call them, haven’t given up; they have simply shifted from hard denial to a new array of tactics that I describe in the book as the new climate war….”.

    And more, much more.


  29. I’ve noticed that Michael Mann and Mark Jacobson have been quoting each other and tauting each others books on Twitter lately. They both have a lot in common. They both gained a lot of praise and status from poorly scrutinized papers. When their papers finally did get detailed scrutiny, they both received widespread derision and did not handle it well. They both filed poor quality lawsuits, as evidenced by the ones that have concluded. They both now have established, comfortably positions on the extreme fringe of climate alarmism. They both hobnob with celebrity documentary film makers.

    Man appears to be doing better than Jacobson. He gets a lot of opinion pieces in major outlets like the New York Times, The Washington Pot and Newsweek. Jacobson is kind of stuck on the anti-nuclear fringe, although his Solutions Project did just get $43 million from Jeff Bezos. Mann has not gone completely anti-nuclear, but he has been leveling a lot of criticism at it and tauting Jacobson’s work. Why would he do this? I’d guess that he’s consolidating his position on the fringe end because he’s burned all his bridges and has nowhere else to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Mike: “Why would he do this? I’d guess that he’s consolidating his position on the fringe end because he’s burned all his bridges and has nowhere else to go.”

    Plausible. He certainly must have some reason to change tack. It wasn’t that long ago he was publicly dissing Jacobsen.


  31. Andy, I don’t know that Mann has ever publicly dissed Jacobson. Until recently, he mostly ignored Jacobson although I’m pretty sure he had referenced his studies before. I found this old comment at Judith Curry’s post on Jacobson’s lawsuit:


    I posted Jacobson’s pinned tweet which tagged Michael Mann, Naomi Oreskes, Naomi Klein and Bill Nye. I noted that none had commented on the lawsuit, but all had referenced Jacobson’s studies before. Back then, nobody on the alarmist side outright defended the toxic lawsuit.

    I’ve also noticed that until recently Mann has avoided the subject of nuclear energy. The topic was a lose/lose proposition for him. If he supported it he would lose a lot of his alarmist base. If Mann publicly rejected nuclear, he risked alienating himself from a growing list of prominent climate figures who were supporting nuclear.

    There’s a price to be paid for alarmist who support nuclear. James Hansen lost a lot of non-governmental funding when he started publicly promoting nuclear. There are allegations that Bill McKibben privately knows that nuclear energy is necessary, but will not say it publicly for fear of splitting his movement.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Mike: “I don’t know that Mann has ever publicly dissed Jacobson.”

    Yes, he has, albeit along with others at the time. I had a quote but can’t find it. I’ll have a rummage when I get a moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Ok I had a rummage and I still can’t find it squirreled away or on the web, so will have to withdraw my assertion unless / until I can. From recall this was about 2017, after Jacobson’s first big splash about powering the US 100% renewable. It was not just OTT but had major flaws, which attracted commentary and formal critique. Jacobson eventually had a go at suing some of those scientists in the latter camp, but later still withdrew the case. Mann had a comment in the former camp I think, with others, but I can’t recall what media and can’t find it.


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