Michael Mann has a new book on climate denial and how to combat it

Michael Mann, the celebrated Penn State climate scientist who first created the famous “hockey stick” graph that correlates higher levels of carbon dioxide with higher average global temperatures, has published a new book titled “The new climate war: the fight to take back our planet. ”In recent days he has given interviews to Rolling Stone, GeekWireand American scientist about that. He says that after the compendium of cataclysmic climate events in 2020, the scientific consensus on anthropenic climate change is now on par with the consensus on gravity.

Credit: Pennsylvania State University

That means climate denial is no longer the “in”. Instead, the forces that advocate doing nothing have turned to the strategies perfected by the tobacco lobby and gun groups. The deniers have not given up; they have simply changed tactics. “The plutocrats who are linked to the fossil fuel industry are participating in a new climate war, this time to avoid meaningful action. In recent years, you’ve seen many conservative groups take their money out of the climate change denial industry and instead invest it in climate change efforts. [the American Legislative Exchange Council], for example, to fund legislative efforts that block clean energy policies. ” Mann says American scientist.

“I use a lot of ‘D’ words to describe this: deviation, delay, division, despair, fatalism. To begin with, there is an effort to divert attention from systemic solutions. They are trying to convince people that climate change is not the result of their corporate policies, but of our own individual actions. I mean, BP was instrumental in the whole idea of ​​a carbon footprint. They introduced the carbon footprint calculator to help people think of this as a matter of individual responsibility. One of the best examples of this kind of diversion campaign is the gun lobby’s motto ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do,’ ”Mann adds.

“If you can get people to argue about these individual lifestyle choices, then you are creating division over questions like ‘Are you vegan or not?’ Do you fly? So it’s a matter of two: you divert attention from the need for real policy change and you have infighting within the climate movement so that climate advocates don’t speak with one coherent voice. “

Mann is not suggesting that we as individuals should not do our best to be good stewards of the Earth. “Voluntary efforts alone are not going to achieve the kind of reductions we need. We need powerful financial incentives, policies like renewable energy subsidies, and effective carbon pricing schemes. ” But he gives this example of how conservatives funded by fossil fuel interests seek to divide Americans into warring camps. “An email sent to journalists in 2020 by CRC Advisors [a PR firm that represents fossil fuel industry companies] it contained talking points that seemed to attempt to sow racial divide within the climate movement. The email suggested that the Green New Deal, supported by white environmentalists, would harm minority communities. “

On that subject, he says GeekWire“Ironically, some of the opposition in recent years to market mechanisms has actually come from the environmental left, because it has been framed as inconsistent with social justice, that the cost will somehow fall on underprivileged front-line communities. , those with fewer resources. That definitely doesn’t have to be the case. ” The key, he says, is adjusting market-based pricing systems so that proceeds go to supporting communities in need and supporting the spread of renewable energy technologies.

Tips for Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos

Both Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are willing to spend loads of money on technology solutions for a warming planet. Mann has some suggestions for both. Gates in particular is exploring the idea of ​​modular nuclear power plants, a path Mann believes is fraught with dangers. “It comes with obvious potential liabilities, whether they are proliferation problems, weapons problems or environmental threats,” he says. He’s even less excited about the solar geoengineering strategies that Gates endorses. “That is going down a very dangerous path. When we started interfering with this system [that] we do not understand perfectly, the law of unintended consequences reigns supreme. “

As for Bezos, Mann says he has already had some conversations with the Amazon CEO team about climate initiatives like the $ 10 billion Earth Fund. “It’s a start,” he says. “I’d like to see you spend less on some of these [ideas like] establish space colonies and more on saving the only planet in the universe that we know is home to life? Yes.” Although asking to disagree on the details, Mann is happy that Gates and Bezos are on the right side in the new climate war. “I will politely criticize these people when I see fit, but I welcome these voices at the table, because we need everyone on board,” he said. “It’s all down to business.”

Climate Doom Porn

Recently, Mann has criticized environmental groups like the Sierra Club for promoting what he calls “climate disaster pornography.” He says Rolling Stone, “Yes it’s correct. I make. I call it what I see it and most of my goals have been on the right side of the political spectrum and continue to be, because that’s where the main obstacles have really been found. But we run into some obstacles on the left side of the spectrum. And here, it is important to make a distinction.

“They have good intentions…[and]… They are a kind of victims of this disinformation campaign. There are progressives, for example, who have opposed certain measures, critical measures to combat climate change such as carbon pricing. And it’s not because they are working for the fossil fuel industry or because they sympathize with the fossil fuel industry. It’s because the fossil fuel industry, its advocates, the think tanks that promote its messages, the news networks that promote its agenda, have been so effective in manipulating public opinion and, ironically, they have actually armed certain enclaves within the left to do their work for them.

“If you can drive people to despair, if you can convince people that it is too late to do something, then they are no longer advocating the action that is needed. And some of these bad actors have been very effective on social media, using bots and trolls to manipulate discourse online, making us fight for our individual choices. “

There’s a battle outside and she’s raging

The title of Mann’s book posits that a war is now being fought over global warming and what to do about it. “This is not a war we choose to be in,” he says. American scientist. But powerful interests have engineered the best-funded and most elaborate public relations campaign in Earth’s history to block climate progress. We need to recognize that these are not actors who are going to be nice to us. They do not participate in a good faith conversation based on logical facts and arguments. “

If there is hope, it is thanks to young activists like Greta Thunberg and members of the Sunrise Movement. “The youth have really moved the needle. For too long, we have allowed this topic to be framed entirely as one of science or economics or politics and politics. But more than anything, it’s about ethics, our obligation not to destroy this planet for future generations. People of goodwill are finally demanding action. I think it is because our children have gone out and have demanded it from the adults of the world ”.

Mann has been fighting the good fight for almost 30 years. He has been constantly vilified, spied on and maligned during that time, but he will not give up. The most surprising thing is that the Earth is a tiny and insignificant blob in a huge universe. It is not even in the center of things; it is on the edge of the Milky Way with no hope of being rescued if humans manage to make it uninhabitable. It is as if we are all in a small boat in the middle of an ocean ravaged by a storm. No one comes to rescue us, but some people on the boat insist on rocking it from side to side just to see what happens.

It is not about gender, race, religion or who is right and who is wrong. It’s about survival, and unless we all start going in the same direction and agree that a sustainable Earth is the top priority, the odds of continuing as a species are low and getting lower. We need to hear from people like Michael Mann if we are to have any hope of finding a solution to our climate dilemma.

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