Monday, December 19, 2016

Michael E. Mann: "I'm a scientist who has gotten death threats" ... by gimleteye

There is not a single fiber of your being that should be OK with threatening scientists who are exposing climate change impacts.

Plans to interfere with federal budgets and science policies have been widely broadcast through Trump political appointees, through pro-fossil fuel lobbyists and GOP elected officials, and by President-elect Trump himself.

We are on the edge of something entirely different. The United States has ever experienced either a president like Donald Trump or a runaway climate. Call where we are, as a culture and economy: Terra Incognito. That's the phrase early cartographers used to identify geography that had not been explored or mapped.


What we have never seen, and what has not been mapped yet: climate change-based economic scarcity. Within all the intelligence briefings that Trump has skipped is evidence that climate-change based scarcity is behind war, famine, and the greatest migration of populations in history.

It is happening now in parts of Africa and the Mideast rapidly turned unlivable. To imagine that nature's fury can be contained, or that we in the mid-latitudes are immune to the afflictions already evident southern latitudes has already been disproved by rapid disintegration of polar ice sheets. A furious melting is underway yet unaccounted in normal tide levels. Winter is coming, in the phrase from Game of Thrones.

The Trump White House intends to lock down the privileges of the wealthy and to let the good times roll in a 21st century version of the Gilded Age. Science will rain on their party. Their plan is to capture science and shunt it away from gullible voters and taxpayers.

According to NASA, that 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years since measurements started in the 1880s. Here's a report from earlier this year by the federal agency whose climate change science mission the GOP Congress and Trump White House will curtail, absent push back from enough Republican Senators.

Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The six-month period from January to June was also the planet's warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.

In 2017, we will be hearing more from Michael Mann and fellow scientists with courage to speak against deformation of science policies and budgets by the Trump White House. Listen to what they have to say.

I’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under Trump.

Washington Post
Donald Trump’s pick of Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency administrator is just one of many ominous signs.
By Michael E. Mann December 16

Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He co-authored, with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.”

My Penn State colleagues looked with horror at the police tape across my office door.

I had been opening mail at my desk that afternoon in August 2010 when a dusting of white powder fell from the folds of a letter. I dropped the letter, held my breath and slipped out the door as swiftly as I could, shutting it behind me. First I went to the bathroom to scrub my hands. Then I called the police.

It turned out to be cornstarch, not anthrax. And it was just one in a long series of threats I’ve received since the late 1990s, when my research illustrated the unprecedented nature of global warming, producing an upward-trending temperature curve whose shape has been likened to a hockey stick.

I’ve faced hostile investigations by politicians, demands for me to be fired from my job, threats against my life and even threats against my family. Those threats have diminished in recent years, as man-made climate change has become recognized as the overwhelming scientific consensus and as climate science has received the support of the federal government. But with the coming Trump administration, my colleagues and I are steeling ourselves for a renewed onslaught of intimidation, from inside and outside government. It would be bad for our work and bad for our planet.

President-elect Donald Trump is nominating Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Here's what you need to know about him. (Video: Sarah Parnass, Osman Malik, Danielle Kunitz, Deirdra O'Regan, Adriana Usero/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Donald Trump, of course, famously dismissed global warming as a Chinese hoax and “a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money.” This month, he framed his position on climate change as “nobody really knows — it’s not something that’s so hard and fast.” He has vowed to cancel U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement and threatened to block the Clean Power Plan, a measure to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector.

The strong anti-science bent of his advisers is similarly ominous. Among the members of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team are some of the most notorious climate change deniers. One adviser has threatened to cut NASA’s entire climate research program , disparaging it, with no apparent sense of irony, as “heavily politicized.”

Trump’s nominee for energy secretary, Rick Perry, wrote in his 2010 book that “we have been experiencing a cooling trend” (in reality, 2016 will go down as the third consecutive record-breaking year for global temperatures), and when he was governor of Texas, his administration removed all references to climate change from a report on rising sea levels. Trump’s proposed interior secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), plays down climate change as “not proven science” and has a dismal record on the environment, voting again and again in favor of the fossil fuel industry. Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state, represents those interests even more directly as the chief executive of ExxonMobil.

And then there’s Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma and Trump’s pick for EPA administrator. When it comes to fossil fuel advocacy and climate inaction, Pruitt checks all the boxes. He has received substantial campaign funding from the oil and gas industry and is a self-professed “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Among the various lawsuits he has brought against the agency is his current suit against the Clean Power Plan. Fox, meet henhouse.

But it is the disrespect Pruitt displays for science that my colleagues and I find most distressing. Consider this statement from a commentary he published this year in National Review: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress.” The assertion betrays profound ignorance of the state of our scientific knowledge (which is that climate change is real, human-caused and already disruptive). Even more pernicious, Pruitt actively encourages others to promote that ignorance, even to children, who will most bear the brunt of unmitigated climate change.

Add to all this the Trump transition team’s alarming request that the Energy Department identify employees and contractors who have been involved in climate meetings during the Obama administration. Trump’s people backed away from the request Wednesday, stating that it had not been authorized. Still, it was enough to prompt a massive effort to archive government climate data in ways that would protect it from Trump administration tampering. It was enough to motivate my fellow climate scientists and me at an annual meeting in San Francisco this past week to stage a rally in support of science. “This is a frightening moment,” Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes told the crowd. “We have seen in the last few weeks how the reins of the federal government are being handed over to the fossil fuel industry.”

We are afraid that four (possibly eight) years of denial and delay might commit the planet to not just feet, but yards, of sea level rise, massive coastal flooding (made worse by more frequent Katrina and Sandy-like storms), historic deluges, and summer after summer of devastating heat and drought across the country.

We also fear an era of McCarthyist attacks on our work and our integrity. It’s easy to envision, because we’ve seen it all before. We know we could be hauled into Congress to face hostile questioning from climate change deniers. We know we could be publicly vilified by politicians. We know we could be at the receiving end of federal subpoenas demanding our personal emails. We know we could see our research grants audited or revoked.

I faced all of those things a decade ago, the last time Republicans had full control of our government.

Before an important climate bill vote in 2005, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) — sometimes called “Senator Snowball” for his stunt introducing a snowball on the Senate floor as ostensible evidence against global warming — attacked me by name in a Senate speech, maligning my research methods and findings.

Later that year, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), then chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — like Inhofe, a leading recipient of fossil fuel funding, and known for his apology to BP after the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill — threatened a congressional subpoena against me to obtain all the correspondence, notes and back-of-the-napkin scribbles spanning my entire career.

I’ve also been harassed at the state level. In Pennsylvania, an organization funded by conservative Richard Mellon Scaife persuaded Republican state senators to threaten to hold my university’s funding hostage until “appropriate action” was taken against me. In Virginia, then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a tea party Republican, sued the University of Virginia for all my personal emails from when I was teaching there. After Cuccinelli was unsuccessful, a Koch brothers-funded front group attempted to sue for the same emails. That effort, too, was ultimately blocked by the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled that unpublished research should be protected in the interest of academic freedom.

In all, I’ve been through roughly a dozen investigations prompted by climate change deniers. Each time, I’ve been exonerated. Investigators find that my methods are sound and my data is replicable. (And, indeed, I’ve been recognized by the scientific community with numerous awards and accolades for my work.) But by then, much time has been lost, expense has been incurred and I’ve endured abuse and vilification.

And then there have been the threats of violence. I’ve received email warnings that “the public will come after you,” suggesting that I’ll find myself “six feet under” and hoping to read that I had “committed suicide.”

Such threats could spike again under a president and Congress hostile to climate science. As we’ve seen recently, a segment of Americans is receptive to fake news, and some are eager to act on it. Wild conspiracy theories have propelled a woman to make death threats against the parent of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary and motivated a man to discharge an assault rifle in a family pizza restaurant in Washington.

I fear the chill that could descend. I worry especially that younger scientists might be deterred from going into climate research (or any topic where scientific findings can prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests). As someone who has weathered many attacks, I would urge these scientists to have courage.

The fate of the planet hangs in the balance.

Twitter: @MichaelEMann


Anonymous said...

The fate of the planet hangs in the balance?

Are we talking about shifting weather patterns and sea level or the imperial death star?

Maybe you would not attract so much negative attention if you reeled in the hyperbole

Anonymous said...

Temperatures may rise to as high as 55 F [31 C] above average on December 22nd over sections of the Arctic near the North Pole. Doesn't sound like Hyperbole to me.

Anonymous said...

Florida voters had to be aware of a sneaky constitutional amendment this year. They may have to be even more informed and focused in 2018. The 2016 subterfuge was an amendment related to solar energy that advertised itself as consumer-friendly. In fact, Florida's investor-owned utilities financed the amendment with $26 million in hopes of securing a monopoly on solar power. Voters, however, wised up. The amendment fell far short of the 60 percent needed for approval.

For 2018, the looming danger is amendments that seek to undermine Florida's independent judiciary. This issue may not sound as sexy as energy from the sun, but it's far more important.

Florida is the only state in which an appointed body — the Constitution Revision Commission — can put amendments on the ballot without court review. The 37-member commission meets every 20 years, and the next iteration starts in 2017 to decide which amendments — if any — go on the 2018 ballot.

The governor gets 15 appointments, including the chairman. The House speaker and Senate president get nine, the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court gets three and the attorney general is automatically a member. When Florida created the commission in 1965, the intent was to provide regular review of the new state constitution — approved in 1968 — to propose bipartisan updates. For House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, however, his priority is partisan revenge.

Two weeks ago, Corcoran addressed the business group Associated Industries of Florida. Corcoran told AIF that his appointees to the Constitution Revision Commission must favor term limits for Florida Supreme Court justices, who now can serve until age 70, like all of Florida's jurists. In addition, Corcoran said his "litmus test" is that commission members be "conservative."

Anonymous said...

In November, Arctic ice levels hit a record low, and we are now in “uncharted territory”, said Prof Jennifer Francis, an Arctic climate expert at Rutgers University in the US, who first became interested in the region when she sailed through it on a round-the-world trip in the 1980s.

“These rapid changes in the Arctic are affecting weather patterns where you live right now,” she said. “In the past you have had natural variations like El Niño, but they have never happened before in combination with this very warm Arctic, so it is a whole new ball game.

“It is inconceivable that this ridiculously warm Arctic would not have an impact on weather patterns in the middle latitudes further south, where so many people live."

Anonymous said...

Over geologic time sea level has fluctuated by hundreds of meters. Today's interglacial level is near historic highs and is 130 meters above the low level reached during the Last Glacial Maximum 19,000–20,000 years ago.

Observational and modeling studies of mass loss from glaciers and ice caps indicate a contribution to sea-level rise of 0.2 to 0.4 mm/yr averaged over the 20th century. Over this last million years, whereas it was higher most of the time before then, sea level was lower than today.

So yes calling sea level fluctuation of 40mm or even 40 meters will threaten the existence of planet earth is hyperbole.

Anonymous said...

"But if there is any hope of redemption, it will have to begin with a clear recognition of how bad things are. American democracy is very much on the edge."

Anonymous said...

Mick Mulvaney, the ultra-conservative South Carolina congressman whom Donald Trump has tapped to be his budget director, has questioned whether the federal government should spend any money on scientific research.

Gimleteye said...

Some answers to the anon, above:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The fate of the planet hangs in the balance?

Are we talking about shifting weather patterns and sea level or the imperial death star?

Maybe you would not attract so much negative attention if you reeled in the hyperbole.

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump's presidency is a Russian hoax created for oligarchy to makes billions and trillions on the back of 99.99% of the American population.

Anonymous said...

Given the unaccounted for water in high tide from the melting of the ice at the poles, what is the scientists best guess as to where this water is? Is it in some cavities somewhere, and with one event we could have massive flooding and take back of land to the oceans? What is the best thinking on this?

Anonymous said...

I am not a scientist but there is irrefutable evidence the missing tide water is in your cavitiy.

Anonymous said...

The Alt Right RETARDS don't give a shit about this: