By Steve Hanley
Michael Mann is a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State. He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. He first rose to public prominence in 1999 when he and co-authors Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes introduced MBH99, the now famous “hockey stick graph,” which showed how rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere correlated with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — the period in history when humans first learned how to burn fossil fuels to power their mills, factories, and transportation devices. That graph later was featured prominently in IPCC 3, published in 2001.
Mann and his colleagues were viciously attacked in 2009 after hackers released emails between them in which they discussed the uncertainties in their research. Climate deniers cherry picked words and phrases from those emails to “prove” that the scientists were involved in an elaborate hoax, one which netted them lucrative research grants.
A Virginia politician by the name of Ken Cuccinelli seized upon the Climategate controversy to fuel his quest for higher office, an ambition that was rejected by the voters. Cuccinelli has spearheaded drives to outlaw same sex marriage, prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending universities, and legislation to repeal birthright citizenship. He also favors laws that would force employees to speak English in the workplace.
Despite the best efforts of climate deniers, Americans are beginning to accept the connection between human activity and a warming planet. It’s hard to watch the infernos that have swept through the West Coast and Australia without putting two and two together. Farmers who make their living from the soil are more aware of changes in the growing season and the decrease in available water to irrigate their crops. In 2019, a poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found nearly 75% of Americans report their opinions about climate change have been influenced by extreme weather in the previous five years.