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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Climate Scientist Michael Mann Sums Up the Witch Hunt Against Him

By Phil Plait

Dr. Michael Mann is a climate scientist of some repute: He has been researching our planetâs climate for nearly 25 years, and was one of the co-authors of the paper that presented the world with the famed âhockey stick diagramâ, showing unprecedented and rapid warming of our Earth over the past century or so.

This has made him a primary target of a vast amount of vitriol and attacks by climate change deniers, from the Attorney General of Virginia (and Republican nominee for Governor) Ken Cuccinelli, to a not-so-small cohort of far-right Congresscritters. He was a central figure in the ridiculous âclimategateâ nontroversy (or what I like to also call a manufactroversy), and has generally suffered the slings and arrows of a legion of reality-deniers.

In June 2013, Mann attended the Chapman Conference, a small, focused meeting put together by the American Geophysical Union, a premier group of professional scientists in the United States. The June conference was titled, âCommunicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Futureâ, and Mann gave a talk about the attacks he has endured. Itâs only 20 minutes long, and summarizes the current situation engagingly and enragingly.

The âengagingâ part is obvious; Mann has allowed himself to have some fun with this, and I approve of that. Most of these attacks are so over-the-top and transparent that making fun of them is deserved.

But the âenragingâ part is still thereâthat duly-elected public officials would waste so much time, effort, and tax dollars on witch hunts like these is galling, amplified even more so by the import and stakes involved. If this were a real controversy I would enthusiastically support investigations; but the evidence is in, and it's clear these attacks are without merit and just politically driven.

Mann has written a book about his trials and tribulations, called, âThe Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.â Itâs a great read, but I get so angry reading it that I can only take it in small chunks; my jaw hurts from being clenched so tightly. Iâm glad he wrote it, though; the attacks on science truly are enraging, and thatâs why I keep writing about them, too. They must stop.

So watch the video, read Mannâs book, and keep yourself up-to-date on what the forces of antiscience are up to. As I have said, and clearly as I need to continue to say, they are fiddling while the world burns.

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