Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

 Michael E. Mann is one of the world's leading atmospheric scientists.  He was a principle researcher in the process of creating a record of atmospheric temperature trends over the past millennia.  Using ice core samples and tree growth ring data, he and his colleagues were able to demonstrate that the last hundred years have been the warmest in well over a millennia.  The paleoclimatological record Mann and his colleagues were able to develop has been peer reviewed and confirmed by dozens of other climate scientists. Other scientists, employing alternate research pathways, have developed data sets that affirm the conclusion drawn by Mann and his colleagues. Global climate change linked directly to elevated levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse pollutants in the atmosphere has caused a substantial and measurable increase in average, leading to sea level rise, and more extreme weather, including draughts, flooding, wildfires, and more powerful hurricanes and tornados.

Our human addiction to fossil fuel energy like oil and coal is the primary cause of global warming.  That is the conclusion of  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an institution put together by the world's governments.  The science behind this conclusion has been proven beyond any doubt. It is

Well actually, if you are in the business of mining coal or pumping oil, survival depends on denial.  Oil is the most profitable business in the history of the world. The barons in charge of big oil, coal, and natural gas, faced the prospect of having their industries and profits killed by what should be an inevitable transition to clean, inexhaustible alternatives to dirty fossil fuels. 

With survival at stake, big fossil energy interests have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on disinformation campaigns, whose aim is to obfuscate and  deny any link between the burning of coal and oil and the pollution that drives climate change.

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, written by atmospheric scientist, Michael E. Mann, chronicles the way his research has been attacked by deniers, pretty much all of whom are being paid by big fossil energy.

The same hired guns and the same nefarious tactics that were employed by big tobacco to deny the link between cigarettes and cancer, are now focused on confusing the public about climate change and the link to our use of coal and oil. What this amounts to is putting the future of human civilization at substantial risk in order to protect the profitability of big coal and oil.

The story of Representative Joe Barton, (R-Tx), Chair of the Congressional Science and Technology Committee,  is particularly sordid. .  Barton, who gets massive amounts of campaign money from the fossil fuel industry, is an ardent climate denier. He has long  used his powerful position to undermine the overwhelming scientific record that links dirty fuels to climate change. The best words to describe Barton and others in the Congress that deny climate science are shameful, corrupt and contemptible.

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars offers an unimpeachable analysis of all that's wrong with American public policy where energy is concerned.  The book is well written and thoroughly researched. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand why we are still fighting this battle.  Coal, oil, and natural gas are old news. There are plenty of clean energy options emerging. Many are already cost competitive with fossil fuels. The transition away from dirty energy is already underway.

Dishonest denial in support of coal and oil profit must not be allowed to obstruct the move to clean sources of energy for even a moment longer.

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