Crank of the Week - May 25, 2009 - Michael E. Mann

Michael E. “Hockey Stick” Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and a co-founder of the climate change website RealClimate.org, was back in the news this week providing commentary for a Seed magazine on-line article, that asks the question “is there a better word for doom?” Mann defended the proper "framing" of environmental issues in order to convince the lay public about the importance of global warming.

This was all prompted by studies, undertaken for the environmental marketing firm EcoAmerica, which indicate that words like global warming, cap and trade, and carbon dioxide turn people off. The firm advises that environmental and government leaders begin talking about “our deteriorating atmosphere” and a “pollution reduction refund,” ditching greenhouse gas-speak in favor of phrases like moving away from the dirty fuels of the past. “Remember to speak in TALKING POINTS,” the report admonished, remember to use “aspirational language about shared American ideals, like freedom, prosperity, independence, and self-sufficiency, while avoiding jargon and details about policy, science, economics, or technology.”

Mann opined that “communicators must fight against the headwind of intentional disinformation efforts, typically fostered by special interest groups,” and that “the contrarian disinformation machine often employs charismatic, rhetorically talented advocates who deliver their messages of doubt and confusion in carefully measured and focus-group-tested aphorisms.” Charismatic and rhetorically talented? You are making us blush, Michael. But we don't have any focus groups on the payroll around here.

“Rather than engaging in the artifice of misrepresentation and cherry picking, we must find clever, simple ways to convey the facts,” continued Mann. No cherry picking? From the inventor of the infamously misrepresentative Hockey Stick graph? Now you are really pulling our legs.

As co-author with Penn State colleague Lee Kump, he has labeled his latest book with the non-sensationalist title Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. Of the title he explained “the potential future climate changes we describe, are, technically speaking, projections rather than predictions because the climate models are driven by hypothetical pathways of future fossil fuel burning (i.e. conceivable but not predicted futures). But Dire Projections doesn't quite roll off the tongue.” Glad you cleared that up for us.

So, for continuing to simply convey the erroneous facts that the whole global warming—excuse me—climate change scam is based on, this Crank of the Week is for you.