Prof. Michael Mann on his new book “The New Climate War – The Fight to Take Back the Planet”. We prioritize truth versus doomism. From Australia, paleoclimatologist and deep time investigator Dr. Andrew Glikson speaks frankly about our situation, and the feedback effects governments and media either don’t know or won’t tell you. Climate truth is difficult – but not impossible.
MICHAEL MANN – THE NEW CLIMATE WAR
A leading voice in climate science call us to fight off the powers of fossil fuels that profit from destruction of our climate and biosphere. Professor Michael Mann has just released his book “The New Climate War – The Fight to Take Back the Planet”.
Professor Michael Mann, Penn State
Thrust into the spotlight with the so-called “hockey stick” graph showing global warming spiraling out of control, Michael Mann waged his own battle against climate deniers while continuing world-level scientific research and publishing. Dr. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). His previous book (among many) is “The Madhouse Effect” with Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Tom Toles.
Here we have a wide-ranging interview which reflects the book and Michael’s other work. Although Mann describes how a livable climate hangs on a long-shot effort to reframe our society without greenhouse gas emissions, he cautions against a small industry of “doomists”. This is not the time to give up he says. The door to saving ourselves is not shut.
I love the chapter in Mann’s “New Climate War” book saying the truth is bad enough. There is almost an arms race of pessimism even within the climate movement. A few people sold their possessions and said tearful “goodbyes” to one another. And yet still here we are. There are a few environmentalists who predicted we would all be extinct by now. Some doom scenarios serve as a distraction from the real threats. Perhaps that is what fossil fuel profiteers prefer – because total hopelessness can disarm us as much as climate denial.
We are kind of doomed, but not to extinction. The coming years are going to be very hard, for growing food, for big storms and fires, just surviving more record heat waves. How can we communicate really tough realities – without just throwing up our hands in despair? Mann says there are social tipping points of climate awareness, and public readiness for serious measures to limit the warming. He endorses the appointment of former Ambassador and presidential candidate John Kerry as climate envoy, and Cabinet Member, in the new Biden/Harris Administration.
We also discuss the need to rebuild government funding to restore American science, especially in health and climate. In September 2020 I interviewed Dr. Kevin Trenberth, who left a key position at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research as funding for climate research was slashed. Last week we spoke with Dr. Ben Santer, one of the most cited climate scientists, but defunded at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There must be a lot of good scientists discouraged in the last four years. Can America rebuild it’s leadership role in climate science?
A major point in Michael’s new book is exposing the effort by the fossil fuel complex to lay climate responsibility on all of us, rather than the corporate sources of greenhouse gas pollution. It will not be enough for you and I to stop flying and driving fossil powered cars. We need systemic change that is broad and deep. That requires massive change in governments, corporate and banking responsibility, and a rush to shut down exploitation of coal, gas and oil. They are the “enemy” of the future, and will do almost anything to preserve their global profits and investments.
The press release for Michael Mann’s new book says:
“Fossil fuel companies have followed the example of other industries deflecting blame (think “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”) or greenwashing (think of the beverage industry’s “Crying Indian” commercials of the 1970s). Meanwhile, they’ve blocked efforts to regulate or price carbon emissions, run PR campaigns aimed at discrediting viable alternatives, and have abdicated their responsibility in fixing the problem they’ve created. The result has been disastrous for our planet.
In The New Climate War, Mann argues that all is not lost. He draws the battle lines between the people and the polluters-fossil fuel companies, right-wing plutocrats, and petrostates. And he outlines a plan for forcing our governments and corporations to wake up and make real change…”
The billionaires and pension funds try to keep fossil fuels going, and vast profits flowing back with big payoffs for CEOs and investors. The longer they stall, the more money they make. It sounds like a drug dealer: Keep the addicts going, until they die of sickness or overdose. Keep money going into their pockets. That is the logic we have to break through.
FEAR THE METHANE, BUT NOT THE BOMB?
While both Mann and I suspect the “methane bomb” threat is overblown, we do have a methane problem. In his book Mann writes;
“Research from 2020 has demonstrated that the spike in atmospheric methane levels in recent decades is coming from natural gas extraction (as opposed to farming and livestock, or natural sources such as peat bogs and melting permafrost). Moreover, the rise in methane is responsible for as much as 25 percent of the warming during this period.”
See: Andrew Nikiforuk, “New Study Finds Far Greater Methane Threat from Fossil Fuel Industry,” The Tyee, February 21, 2020.
We are so far removed from total action to save ourselves, like a war-time footing, that most people cannot imagine a sustainable future. Michael recommends the book “Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Governments of the world, the IPCC, and plenty of climate models assume large amounts of carbon will be recaptured from the atmosphere and stored underground, out of the loop. Is that happening, and can it happen fast enough to avoid climate tragedy? Dr. Mann thinks the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has overestimated what carbon capture and storage (CCS) can really do. We will need as much CCS as possible, but so far there is no commerial grade solution there. Other climate critics call CCS “the unicorn” way out.
Follow Michael’s work at his web site here.
On a personal note, while I admire 98% of Michael’s work, I do not agree we can continue to grow the economy and save the climate. In our current time, and the forseable decade, any growth of national or global Gross Domestic Product will create more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I think we have to shrink the consumer economy, even further than during the pandemic. Simplify life and re-order social rewards toward those who create social welfare for all. Of course Mann knows this too, and says in our interview we have to slash human global emissions by 7% every year, for 10 years.
Michael also talks about “the forces of inaction”. Too often the public fails to realize that inaction on key issues is actually an action. There are forces with big money working tirelessly to make sure nothing happens. Mitch McConnell famously said the U.S. Senate is a place where legislation goes to die. He made it so.
Unfortunately for them and all of us, the forces of inaction succeeded in not doing anything about the pandemic in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans paid with their lives for that inaction, and likely millions will have long term residual mental and physical debilities because they had COVID-19. Many do not recover. We have to add them to the bill owed by the forces of inaction. But the climate bill is too big to pay. It bankrupts everyone, and living creatures far beyond our own.
PREVIOUS MICHAEL MANN APPEARANCES ON RADIO ECOSHOCK
Posted on February 25, 2015
Battling for Climate Sanity
Posted on April 20, 2017,
MESSAGES FROM THE PAST TO THE FUTURE: ANDREW GLIKSON
“Humans live in realms of perceptions, dreams, myths and legends, in denial of critical facts, waking up for a brief moment to witness a world as beautiful as it is cruel.”
– Andrew Glikson, “The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe”
Next up, a remarkable scientist. Born in Germany, transplanted to Australia, with a degree from Israel, Andrew Glikson has tramped the old rocks and the oldest living things. Those are in the Australian out-back, where ancient time comes to the surface. From a geologist, Glikson became a paleoclimateologist. I still use his time maps showing when asteroids or volcanoes jolted Earth into different states.
A candle lights the darkness, then burns out. Is that the fate of the human species? As the pandemic rages, where are we now – in the climate crisis? Dr. Andrew Glikson is an Earth and Paleo-climate scientist. He has worked with the Climate Science Institute, at Australian National University for decades. Glikson has published almost 150 scientific papers and articles. Every couple of years we check in with Andrew on Radio Ecoshock. His latest book from Springer Press is “The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe”.
Basically our talk about science and society revolve around this quote from James Hansen:
“We’ve reached a point where we have a crisis, an emergency, but people don’t know that … There is a big gap between what is understood about global warming by the scientific community and what is known by the public and policymakers”.
Not all scientists agree with recent work from retired NASA scientist James Hansen. For example, I interviewed Dr. Bjorn Stevens from the Max Planck Institute. Stevens says cooling from aerosols is much lower than Hansen suggests. But as Andrew points out, James Hansen is pointing toward possible aerosol hiding real temperature, while calling for better monitoring by NASA to find out for sure. I cover that in this YouTube video.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports estimate sea level rise this century lower than Hansen does. But again, we don’t really know, and that is part of the danger.
Andrew cites and explains a lot of science where Dr. Hansen is involved. But most of those papers feature a big team of international scientists as co-authors or lead-authors. One issue that keeps coming up is: what impact all that freshwater pouring off Greenland will have. As you know, the Arctic has been warming much faster than the rest of the world. Greenland is melting. A pool of fresher but colder meltwater has been measured south of Greenland, in the Atlantic for the past several years.
Andrew Glikson suggests this may lead to a “stadial event” – a regional cooling that would impact the UK and Northern Europe, but likely New England and the Maritimes as well. This possibility was raised by Stephan Ramsdorf of the Potsdam Institute, for example here.
Glikson is one of the wise men of climate science. He voraciously monitors new science and adds that to his personal exploration and mapping of Earth’s past. Grab this interview and pass it around.
PREVIOUS RADIO ECOSHOCK SHOWS WITH ANDREW GLIKSON
Climate Chaos Now And In The Future
Posted on October 23, 2019, by Radio Ecoshock
Why we experience cold waves as well as heat during climate change. Distinguished Australian scientist Andrew Glikson explains the coming climate chaos and pools of ocean cooling – as big glaciers melt at the Poles. It’s radical new science in a radical new world.
Can Humans Survive? Posted on December 6, 2017, by Radio Ecoshock
“The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth” – the latest from prominent Australian scientist Andrew Glikson. An hour of carefully documented doom and discussion, from nuclear folly to climate disaster. Nuclear weapons and climate change both threaten our existence, but with different time scales and probability. In his work on geology and paleoclimatology, with a specialty in the causes of past mass extinctions Dr. Glikson explains his bleak prognosis in this full program in-depth interview. Radio Ecoshock 171206
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We are out of time – for this week’s show at least. Despite raging disease and crumbling politics, you keep showing up. Thank you for listening, and caring about our world. – Alex