In this iteration of the Ikonokast Podcast we interview Pennsylvania State University Professor Michael Mann.
Dr. Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Geosciences, and another joint appointment in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He is director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.
Michael Mann is most famous for his identification of the “Hockey Stick,” the phenomenon of abrupt and dramatic rise of the Earth’s surface temperatures owing to human greenhouse gas pollution. This has made him a target for attacks by science deniers and puppets of the petroleum industry who would prefer that we not notice climate change.
What you might not know is that Dr. Mann is also the leader of one of the teams of scientists that issue annual predictions of the severity and characteristics of the Atlantic Hurricane season. Even as Hurricane Matthew is churning through the Caribbean and the waters off the US Southeast, we discuss the ways in which human caused global warming increases risks from Atlantic hurricanes, as well as some of the unique features of this particular storm. We also check in to see how well Dr. Mann’s team did with their prediction this year!
We also cover the true and very interesting story behind Michael Mann’s discovery of the Hockey Stick. This is an Ikonokast exclusive. In case you’ve ever wondered how major scientific discoveries come about, this story is an excellent, previously untold (on a podcast) example.
Much of this episode focuses on work behind, and meaning within, Professor Mann’s latest book, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy with cartoonist Tom Toles. From the publisher:
Through satire, “The Madhouse Effect” portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two commonsense crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books–and may even convert a few of the faithful to the right side of science.
We also discuss Mann’s two other books, Dire Predictions, 2nd Edition: Understanding Climate Change, and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
Much of our discussion covers the nature of climate change denial, and we talk about its decline as a factor in policy making and politics. Very few politicians today call climate change a hoax. (There are some, though.) This change has come about in part because of the tireless efforts of scientists like Dr. Mann who expend significant effort effectively communicating the causes and consequences of climate change to the general public and the press.
We also discuss the potential outcomes of the collapse of the Atlantic Conveyor current, the current rapid heating of the Earth’s surface, with record breaking year after record breaking year, and the likely heating to happen over the next several years.
Learn how to become an effective science communicator, which can include the use of humor, and what the key problems are that have to be overcome to address climate change, and much much more, in this information packed episode of our podcast.