Michael Mann’s Hissy Fit Shows Why Global Warming Alarmists Fear Debate

Michael Mann’s Hissy Fit Shows Why Global Warming Alarmists Fear Debate
June 27, 2012

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

Last month I received a worried telephone call from a government official in California. An Orange County government agency was holding a water summit, just days away, and one of the speakers was throwing a last-minute hissy fit about a fellow speaker scheduled for his panel. According to the official, the speaker throwing the hissy fit, Climategate central figure Michael Mann, was expressing indignation that the other speaker allegedly did not have the scientific credentials to share a stage with him. The official worried that Mann would back out of his speaking appearance, after Orange County had extensively advertised Mann’s appearance there, if they did not remove the scientist to whom Mann objected. As cameraman Larry exclaimed after a Phil Connors hissy fit in the movie Groundhog Day, “Prima Donna!”

The government official was hoping for some good scientific give and take on the panel. Accordingly, he asked me if I could identify highly qualified scientists who could give a different perspective on global warming than alarmist Mann, and at the same time match Mann’s inflated view of his own credentials.

The Michael Mann hissy fit, I advised the government official, likely had little to do with the other speaker’s credentials. From my own experience with Mann and other politically driven global warming alarmists, they will go to great lengths to avoid appearing on the public stage in a format that requires them to debate or defend their alarmist assertions in the presence of scientists who actually focus on facts rather than scare tactics. I nevertheless gave the government official a list of highly qualified skeptical scientists and wished him good luck with his upcoming conference. “Don’t be surprised, however, if Mann refuses to take the stage with any of these scientists, or anybody else who will ask him challenging questions on the panel,” I predicted. “I know that scientists are supposed to encourage and celebrate critical thinking and open debate, but alarmists like Mann are scientists in only the loosest sense of the term.”

A few days later I ran into one of the scientists I had included on my list,Patrick Michaels. Dr. Michaels is a senior fellow in research and economic development at George Mason University. He spent many years as a research scientist at the University of Virginia. He is the former State Climatologist for the State of Virginia. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has a Ph.D. in ecological climatology and has been published repeatedly in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. If anybody, regardless of their views on the global warming debate, was qualified to speak at the Orange County conference, it would be Patrick Michaels.

I asked Michaels if anybody had contacted him about speaking at the conference. Michaels responded that they had contacted him and that he told them he would be happy to participate, but they never followed up with an invitation to speak. Indeed, despite the government official’s strong desire to have balance on the panel, no other scientist appeared on the panel.

I don’t mean to say “I told you so,” but I told you so….

The Orange County conference, as it turned out, offered a perfect illustration of why alarmists like Michael Mann are so afraid of public debate. In his efforts to scare the audience into sharing his alarmist global warming views, Mann presented a number of arguments that were scientifically laughable. Any objective scientist knowledgeable on global warming issues would have picked Mann’s arguments apart and in the process exposed Mann’s presentation for the scaremongering that it was.

Mann’s final slide in his PowerPoint presentation provides a perfect illustration and summary of Mann’s unscientific scaremongering throughout his presentation. Mann’s final slide showed a picture of his daughter, a picture of a polar bear sitting on a strikingly small iceberg, and a number of assertions about global warming. According to Mann’s slide, our children and grandchildren “may come of age at a time when:

“Polar bears … will be the stuff of myth

“There will be no Great Barrier Reef to explore

“Giraffes and elephants will no longer loom in the foreground of the majestic snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro

“Great coastal cities such as Amsterdam, Venice, and New Orleans will join the lost city of Pompeii. …”

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Let’s examine these claims one by one.

Mann says polar bears may go extinct by the time his daughter and her children come of age. Yet polar bear populations are rising dramatically. As Canadian polar bear researcher Mitch Taylor reported after this year’s official polar bear count, “There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears.”

The polar bear population has roughly doubled during the past 35 years, precisely during the time when global temperatures began modestly rising again after a 30-year cooling trend. Now Mann claims the world’s 25,000 or so polar bears will go extinct within the next 40 or so years? Oh, please….

Mann says the Great Barrier Reef may disappear within the next 40 years. The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 133,000 square miles and has expanded during the warming temperatures of the twentieth century. Moreover, recent peer-reviewed research shows coral reefs are benefiting from warming temperatures. Now Mann claims the Great Barrier Reef will completely disappear in 40 or so years? Oh, please….

Mann says global warming may cause the glacier atop Mt. Kilimanjaro to soon disappear. Scientists, however, report that temperatures at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro rarely if ever rise above freezing. The much-ballyhooed decline in Kilimanjaro’s mountaintop glacier, scientists report, is beingcaused by a recent decline in snowfall in the region rather than declining temperatures. Now Mann claims global warming will cause the Kilimanjaro mountaintop glacier to disappear in the next 40 or so years? Oh, please….

Mann says Amsterdam, Venice, and New Orleans may “join the lost city of Pompeii.” Correct me if I am wrong, but there are no imminently erupting volcanoes in the vicinity of Amsterdam, Venice, or New Orleans. And even if such volcanoes were to miraculously appear and then erupt during the next 40 or so years, I don’t think global warming will be to blame. Oh, please….

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If Michael Mann had presented any of these arguments on a panel with an objective participating scientist, he would have been laughed off the stage. This explains why he throws hissy fits about having objective scientists sit on his panels.

And this, in short, is the state of the debate regarding global warming. Alarmists make ridiculous claims in the hope of swaying an uninformed populace. They refuse to allow critical objective critiques of their work. And when a skeptical scientist presents objective data that call the ridiculous claims into question, they accuse the skeptical scientist of being “anti-science.”

Thank you, Michael Mann, for perfectly illustrating why global warming media hounds are so frightened of public debate.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)