Wednesday 26 July 2017

Reflections on Michael Mann's attack on Guy McPherson

If you want comforting lies then Dr.Mann's your man

Michael Mann Has come up with an ad hominem attack on Guy McPherson in responding David Wallace-Wells’ 7,300-word feature article in New York magazine which in itself fails to treat the subject with any urgency (placing dire effects far off at the end of the century.

I haven't read his riposte in the Washington Post but in his recent interview on the Real News he corrects what he sees as "inaccuracies" in the article.

The first was where he says that satellite data that underestimated warming was amended to bring it in line with other data.  

From the article:

" there are alarming stories in the news every day, like those, last month, that seemed to suggest satellite data showed the globe warming since 1998 more than twice as fast as scientists had thought (in fact, the underlying story was considerably less alarming than the headlines). 

I couldn't tell what the hell he was talking about so I had to go and search and through following the links in the article was able to find this:

A new paper published in the Journal of Climate reveals that the lower part of the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed much faster since 1979 than scientists relying on satellite data had previously thought..  

What the article says (and who knows, they might be distorting what the scientific paper is saying), is this:

After correcting for problems caused by the decaying orbit of satellites, as well as other factors, they have produced a new record showing 36% faster warming since 1979 and nearly 140% faster (i.e. 2.4 times larger) warming since 1998. This is in comparison to the previous version 3 of the lower tropospheric temperature (TLT) data published in 2009.

The other "inaccuracy" that he feels moved to "correct" relates to what he calls climate cycle feedbacks. Mann contends that there may be small amounts of methane being released from a melting permafrost - but ideas of methane causing positive feedbacks according to him is "fringe". He doesn't even pay respect to Dr.Shakhova's et al work on methane clathrates by even mentioning them.

That goes for any other scientist that has information that counters his message.

Mann mentions positive feedbacks only in terms of a loss of albedo as a result of ice losses that he presumably would have us believe will only kick in towards 2100.

Never mind the preponderance of observations that blow his beloved computer models out of the water.

He says there may be "small" inaccuracies in the computer modelling but above all,he is saying, they are next to perfection.

He repeats the line that usually comes from angry, ignorant comments from fact-resistant humans on social media - not what one would expect from a renowned scientist - that to say any other than what Science (yes, in capital letters and absolute) is to encourage people to fall into despair and inaction.

A lie if ever there was one.

It takes me back to when I was honoured to be kicked off the Facebook Page Global Warming Facts of the Day, along with Guy. Their position was he was outside the "Consensus"and therefore should be hauled before some modern day equivalent of the Inquisition.

He goes on at length about insurance for floods.They might not happen but it makes sense to hedge against the risk by buying insurance. That's his metaphor.
So, take out insurance in the formof schemes that even if they were ever to be taken up (which looks more doubtful by the day - such as "alternative' energy etc. would not do anything to reverse the process.

We are all aware of past warnings that we had a narrow window of opportunity to do something and that 1C was the threshold we couldn't cross if we wanted to reverse global warming.

The last year in which we could get honest about climate change seems to be 2008 - as magic a date as the year 2100.

Take these two items from the National Geographic, both from 2008.

In the period before the onset of any positive feedbacks - in a time where we could still talk about "scenarios" - worst-case or otherwise  - this could be said about what might happen with just one degree of warming....


Or with 6 degrees of warming....

In those days it was all largely theoretical so one could still afford to be conservative.

Another example is Al Gore whose film "An Inconvenient Truth"  was an example to many.

Once again, in 2006 he was able to present things pretty much as they were.

In 2017, in his sequel, after attacking Trump he says:

"This is the most exciting development. We are seeing a tremendous amount of positive change. The basis is there but it's still not enough"

In the real world  a scenario has become an actuality. 

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe and producing effects that I have been watching play out from week to week.

Yet nowhere in his interview does Mann mention the Arctic other that some "scenario" that might play out if "we don't do something" before the magic year of 2100.

As it looks as if the Arctic sea ice might disappear for a few weeks later this year (or close to it - already only a tiny fraction of multi-year ice remains.

Perhaps Michael Mann better deny it in advance on the grounds that reality does not conform to computer modelling?


A few months ago I went to a presentation by retired professor Peter Barrett from Victoria University on climate change.  In an update o a 2008 (again!) film Prof. Barrett, who, unlike Mann, is a personable sort of fellow) painted a picture very similar to Michael Mann's.

When I quoted this from Keith Trenberth on the temperature record along with certain other facts such as 

  • CO2 emissions have (allegedly) flatlined
  • Despite this CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are headingthowards 410 ppm and increasing quickly
  • There is a gap of 10-20 years between emission and effect
he did not want to answer apart from jumping in to assert that the climate was changing in a nice linear manner as per the IPCC projections - at (if I've got it right, 0.1C per decade).

So who - Prof. Trenberth or Profs. Mann and Barrett, are correct?

The other thing relating to Prof Barrett is that friends have revealed a private conversation in which he expressed his anxiety and that he "couldn't live" in a world without glaciers (he's a glaciologist). Presumably he feels that he might have to live in such a world.

In that case why does he feel the need to talk down to the Great Unwashed and tell them they need to change their lightbulbs , buy a Prius and plant trees and everything will be fine when in his own heart he feels something diametrically opposed to that.

In my language that is called lying.

I am not sure about the inner world of these academics but where I am coming round to forgiving ordinary fact-resistant humans for their denial and lack of logic I am far from accepting (or forgiving) these people that are using their own authority to pull the wool over people's eyes.

Have you noticed that these people talk down to the public and never provide a single skerrick of evidence to support their pronouncements.

Image result for comforting lies

So, if it is authority and comforting lies as opposed to real evidence you want then,as Guy McPherson says, Mann is your man.

In conclusion, I can't fault these comments on Facebook from Kirk Brent:

"Michael Mann lies about how bad it really is. North American scientists have been threatened and thus have been self censoring their own research. Michael Mann himself has admitted that he uses watered down data in his own research. He downplays the role of methane in the atmosphere. He thinks that we can limit warming at 2C but in 1990, scientists told the UN that any warming past 1C would lead to runaway Global Warming.

"In 2016 we came very close to the 2C mark.

"If you ask Michael Mann, he is not going to France with all of the other climate scientists. He is going to remain in the US where Trump is dismantling science. Why? He probably was not invited to France.

"I have spoken to him directly and have seen how he downplays climate science.

"He says that carbon dioxide has plateaued. That is a false statement. It is still climbing.

"Michael E Mann has been compromised and I suspect the fossil fuel industry is now paying him. He recently said that we can't stop burning coal because it would lead to even bigger problems.

"The models are also not predicting the climate correctly. Each of you can prove this with a very simple exercise.

"Do an internet search of the following 2 statements.

-"Faster than expected"
-"Slower then expected"

"If all of the climate reports are "faster than expected" then the climate models are not correct. They are showing a watered down version of what is in fact happening.

"If both statements give equal number of climate headlines then the climate models are somewhat correct.

"If all you get is "slower than expected" then the climate models are overestimating the effects of Global Warming (Deniers would love this one).

"Try this out. Believe me, you will be surprised.

"The climate models are not giving a clear picture. They are underestimating the effects of Global Warming and because Michael Mann strongly supports Climate Models, he too is underestimating the effects of Global Warming."


Over the past few days Pam and I have been watching a 2000 remake of the film On the Beach, based on the novel by Nevill Shute which is about the effects of a nuclear war destroying the northern hemisphere.

While remakes usually leave a lot to be desired (how could you ever replace Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner?) this film was hard-hitting and reflected how 21st century people (as opposed to 1950's) might behave in respond to disaster.

I see the film, in part, as a study in denial and how people face truth and their own demise

What is relevant to this conversation is that scientist Julian Osborn is brought back to Melbourne against this will to take part in a submarine expedition to the northern hemisphere,based on a scatter-brained thesis of another academic that live might still be possible above the 6th parallel.

See the response of those assembled to the "alarmist" realism of Dr. Osborn.  In private the Australian admiral reveals that despite the outward support for a crackpot the majority of scientist privately agree with Dr.Osborne that they are all doomed.

I can highly recommend watching it HERE

So take your choice. 

If what you want are (somewhat) comforting lies  then Dr.Mann is your man.

If however you want to be prepared with the truth then you can't do better than spend time reading Dr. McPherson's Giant Climate Change Essay which he stopped updating last year.

If you want to know more abort Michael Mann's professional dishonesty you can't do better than listen to this:

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