Honest Paid Me A Heavy Price

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Date Posted:
2012-04-15
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Among the tactics used against Mann were the theft and publication, in 2009, of e-mails he had exchanged with British climate scientist Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia. Selected, distorted versions of these e-mails were then published on the internet in order to undermine United Nations climate talks that were due to begin in Copenhagen a few weeks later. These negotiations ended in failure. The use of those e-mails to kill off the climate talks was “a crime against humanity, a crime against the planet”, says Mann, a scientist at Penn State University.

In his book, Mann warns that “public discourse has been polluted now for decades by corporate-funded disinformation – not just with climate change but with a host of health, environmental and societal threats”. The implications for the planet are grim, he adds.

Mann became a target of climate-change deniers’ hate because his research revealed there has been a recent increase of almost 1° Celsius across the globe, a rise that was unprecedented “during at least the last 1,000 years” and which has been linked to rising emissions of carbon dioxide from cars, factories and power plants. Many other studies have since supported this finding although climate-change deniers still reject Mann’s conclusions.

Mann’s research particularly infuriated deniers after it was used prominently by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in one of its assessment reports, making him a target of right-wing denial campaigners. But as the 46-year-old scientist told The Observer, he only entered this research field by accident. “I was interested in variations in temperatures of the oceans over the past millennium. But there are no records of these changes so I had to find proxy measures: coral growth, ice cores and tree rings.”

By studying these, he could trace temperature fluctuations over the past 1,000 years, he realised. The result was a graph that showed small oscillations in temperature over that

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