Since this New York Magazine article ("The Uninhabitable Earth" by David Wallace-Wells) is getting so much play since it was published on Sunday, I figured I should comment on it, especially as I was interviewed by the author (though not quoted or mentioned).
I think Mann plays an important role in trying to keep things in perspective. That is not easy with wild statements all over the Internet. He is apparently trying to steer a course based on actual science with the deniers on one side and the exaggerators on the other side. Unlike most people offering opinions on climate change Mann actually can understand the scientific articles. He definitely is a climate scientist who should be listened to.
Mann has a lot of credibility. i appreciate his weighing in here.
But to me, by far the larger problem in terms of public perception, is ignorance of science and minimization of the risks of climate change, not the over-hyping of doom scenarios.
Although I'm not a fan of fear mongers like McPherson, I think Mann intentionally places himself as a marketable "centrist" who consistently diminishes the ongoing feedback issue. He has even dismissed the obvious connection between a rapidly warming Arctic and the sudden (last 4 or 5 years) changes in the polar vortex/jet streams.
Cue the comment "Well are you a climatologist?".
Michael Mann's points are all correct, I imagine, but I am a fan of this New York article because it alerts a somnolent public that some of our very top scientists, not some watered down concensus, think the situation dire indeed.
I am surprised Michael Mann does not address this central concept.
Read Peter Ward's "Under a Green Sky" if you want your eyes opened to deep time. Michael Mann is more a contemporary climate scientist - it is rare to find those with the long perspective of 'deep time', but there are some, and they are in the article - Wallace (Wally) Broecker, Peter Ward, James Hansen, and of course there are others - Lee Kump, Eric Rignot, James Zachos, James Kasting, and on and on...
The central point is things are far far worse than the IPCC reports acknowledge - and potentially life threatening enough to be classified as the beginning of a Greenhouse Mass Extinction - which would in all probability end us and a significant percentage of life on Earth. Unless you are a jellyfish or an insect or a bacterium which likes oxygen starved oceans - you get the point !
Note that Jim Hansen was essentially forced out of his job.
How many mortal climate scientists are willing to forego their nice lifestyles to confront power and privilege - to stand up like a man ?
It should be noted that he is a meteorologist, not a climate scientist. There is a difference. While the methane issue is a bit unclear, there are many positive feedback loops that are concerning.
End of century? Some commenters her are spreading this screed around that humanity will be extinct by 2024! I wonder what Mann would think of them?
That is completely absurd that Mann is not a climate scientist. Mann is one the one of the most renowned climate scientists in the world. He is the climate scientist who created the "hockey stick" graph which clearly demonstrated a recent spike in warming after hundreds of years of nearly stable temperature. Mann has his opinions on feedbacks just as other climate scientists have theirs. There is no way of knowing at this time who will be closest to being right. James Hansen thinks feedbacks are more of a near-term threat than does Gavin Schmidt, both very well known climate scientistx.
I don't know what Mann thinks of people claiming humans will be extinct by 2024 but he certainly understands climate science a lot better than they do.
If Mr. Mann knew beyond all doubt that McPherson was correct in his analysis it is my contention that he would never admit it. Why? Well to acknowledge that climate destruction is leading to the inability to maintain food production in a few short decades will lead directly to wide spread chaos on a scale never seen or imagined by humans.. No one, but no one in the mainstream would ever admit this whether true or not. At the end of the day McPherson is simply saying that based on historical biological records we are walking the same path as every other mass extinction event only at a much faster pace. This can be easily verified. Whether that means we have 20, 50 or a 100 years matters only inasmuch as with a longer time span significant action can be taken - a radical course change that might turn this around. Does anyone see that anywhere? In any manner? Of course not. So, pick your time span. With what we are seeing now, time for any corrective action is disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate no matter how optimistic one wants to be.
There is never a discussion of geoengineering and the effects on climate. I thought this was overblown and a way to tax the citizens of the world, but changes are definitely here, but the earth has always cycled the weather. The military has weaponized the weather, along with other countries doing the same, including earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.
We still need to try just as well, even if it is ultimately futile.
"We still need to try just as well, even if it is ultimately futile."
Pretty much how i've lived my life, at 58 years now. When i was 11 - 12 - 13, i saw that the wide trend was plainly toward ever-more intensive use / abuse of the Earth, driven by techno-industrial capitalism, consumerism, militarism / nationalism, and enabled by human limitations and social processes.
When i was 11 or 12, i figured that humans' greatest skill, is fooling ourselves. i became aware that we can look at the obvious devastation of the automobile / fossil fuel / military complex, and still thoughtlessly build our lives around driving cars. i read Barry Commoner's "The Closing Circle" in 1971, which included a chapter on atmospheric carbon and climate change. i've never driven or flown, and it makes no sense to me that deciding to not drive and not fly has occurred to almost no-one in "developed" societies. Except for, our capacity to fool ourselves.
i've seen very little to dissuade my determination from so many years ago, that "we" would continue on our accelerating trajectory to wrecking the ecology. At this point the accelerating path to near-term crisis should damned well be obvious to any common person who looks into it, despite the mass propaganda.
As just one measure, there is half as much animal wildlife on Earth today as there was when i was a boy, a stunning and intensely sobering collapse... for anyone who gives it a few moments thought. i continue to "try just as well."
Mann's seat at Penn State - is called "Professor of Meteorology" because of the Department he is in. His background is geophysics and climatology. Recall that he fled to Pennsylvania from the University of Virginia after Virginia's attorney general subpoenaed every scrap of paper in his office and library and threatened to have hem arrested for using state funds for "science fraud".
Regarding "deep time", the really catastrophic effects of our GHG emission are not going to happen to most people alive today - particularly in the global north. It will be a legacy for future generations 100 years or more from now. The huge challenge is getting people - especially politicians and policymakers - to care about future people who will never vote for them.
Not sure where the confusion is coming from. There is "consensus" and the science is "settled".
This from Robert Scribbler:
Thanks for the clarification. I do recall the flap At UVa.
But I thought that all you deniers out there in Trump-land believed that there was no warming and the climate scientist's predictions of warming from human GHG emission were nonsense. Now you recognize that it is warming, but the warming is some proclaimed "natural cycle" which, in a wild coincidence, it is exactly coincident with the predictions of the "socialistic" scientists.
To use your version of the scientific method, you were wrong with "there is no warming" so why should we think you are right about "it is natural"? Don't you think it is time to consider that the best theory is the one real scientists like Mann are putting forth?
Seems like " Sane discussions about the climate" has left the building.