Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baby you need coolin'

Michael Mann, the originator of the famous (or infamous) hockey stick, has a book out. It is called "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines." I have not read it yet but the title is not promising. But what should one expect from one of the hotheads of the controversy?

As I said before on this blog, there are some telling metaphors to describe the climate change dispute. Stephen Schneider used the term "Science as a contact sport", Nature "street fight" and now Mann "war" (I intend to write a paper about this). Of course, a war is the extreme form of social conflict, where the scale of violence is highest. Gone are the days when Mann was considered (considered himself) as part of the hockey team which applied some robust "body checks". The war metaphor invites to apply all sort of dirty tricks, and the  the recent Gleick affair has provided some clues how this might look like. Since its inception, the Klimazwiebel blog  has tried to avoid this inflammatory rhetoric.

Here is a cover version of a famous song from Led Zeppelin, sung by French singer Alice Michel. For me it captures what is needed in such heady times. No head-banging outrage, but some coolness, beauty, and some melancholy, too. Could it be the Klimazwiebel soundtrack?


Werner Krauss said...

In his famous post on WUWT, "Climategate: Plausibility and the
blogosphere in the post-normal age", Jerry Ravetz already used the "war metaphor" to illustrate the monoculture of alarmist rhetorics. He argues that in the following of Al Gore, climate change discourse was transformed into a "war on carbon", similar to the "war on drugs" or "war on terror". The latter comparison one is especially interesting, because the war on terror resp. the war against Iraq resulted from fake "evidence", when the former secretary of state, Powell, showed a manipulated ppt slide as proof that Iraq produces chemical weapons. Nontheless, any critique was labelled as unpatriotic etc.

It's interesting to reflect upon how differently Ravetz and Mann use the "war" metaphor.

By the way, the Led Zep version actually is pretty hot!

Roddy said...

Book sounds good!!!

Very few people have sounded more important alarms about our climate future, and very few people have paid a higher price for doing so. Michael Mann is a hero. -- Bill McKibben

The brilliant and courageous climatologist Michael Mann knows what it's like to be viciously attacked by the well-funded deniers of scientific evidence ..... exposing the forces behind the denialist rhetoric..... -- Paul R. Ehrlich

Michael Mann has been the most important, resilient, and outspoken warrior in the climate battle -- Chris Mooney

Michael Mann presents his conviction that climate change is real and potentially deadly... -- James Lovelock, author of A New Look at Life on Earth and The Revenge of Gaia

.... the endless disinformation campaign by climate change deniers at the highest levels of government and corporate America...

no one has felt the brunt of the attacks from politicians and the fossil fuel industry more than Michael Mann -- Henry Waxman

An important and disturbing account of the fossil-fuel industry's well-funded public-relations campaign to sow doubt about the validity of the science of climate change...This blistering indictment of corporate-funded chicanery .... Kirkus Reviews

Anonymous said...

Ich bekenne, dass ich das Buch lesen werde. Nicht, weil mich die Hockeystick-Debatte interessieren würde (tut es nicht, langweilt mich zu Tode), sondern weil ich hoffe, den Menschen M. Mann besser kennenzulernen und zu verstehen.

Natürlich, aus der Perspektive meines bequemen Sessels heraus erscheint mir der Begriff "climate wars" auch völlig verfehlt. Wie würde ich aber denken und handeln, wenn ich solchen Angriffen ausgesetzt sein würde? Klagen von Cuccinelli, Drohmails, Vorträge, unter Polizeischutz etc. Wie wirken sich diese Umstände auf einen Menschen aus, der als Wissenschaftler begann und nun im Zentrum politischer Stürme steht?

Gerade wenn man Klimaforschung als "postnormal" versteht, dann ist die Person M.E. Mann doch interessanter als jedes wissenschaftliche Paper, oder? Mehr davon aber erst in ca. einem Monat.

Bis dann

Anonymous said...

@ Werner

Interesting comparising of the different issues "war on carbon" and "war on drugs".

Both of them seem to go lost for many of the same reasons.

I agree: the original Led Zep version is much better, especially in times of war ...

By the way and relating to the "war on carbon" - Andy Revkin is a singer too ...

"Caging the bird"?

V. Lenzer

Anonymous said...

Reiner, or anybody else in the know, could you please recommend a counterpart-book? I mean a personal account written by "one of the hotheads of the controversy", or just someone deeply personally and professionally involved in the debate, who stands on the other side of the trenches?

Alice michel said...

Hey there reiner,
great article on this complicated matter, and thank you so much for including my cover of Led Zep!! you rock!!
You can also check some of muy original songs here:
Thanks again for the support

William M. Connolley said...

> Baby you need coolin'

How very true. So why not be cool and laid-back enough to wait till you've read the book *before* commenting on it? You're being far too impatient, anyone might think you had an agenda to push. Slow down, take your time, do the research *first*.

jyyh said...

A blatant ad for one more review:
As it seems the 'other side of the debate' doesn't believe in physics, might this so-called 'controversy' be better described as a religious controversy, where the rhetorics of absolute certainties and immovable systems of thought and emotion could be applied by both sides? This line of rhetorics might be better understood by those who are not able to think in real numbers (as it seems) but only in absolute values like 1(God), 2(sides as in Satan vs.God), 3(trinity).

Werner Krauss said...

@Andreas #3
Darf man sich dann nach Beendigung der Lektüre eine exklusive Zwiebel-review von dem Buch wünschen? Das wäre großartig!

Roddy said...

'So why not be cool and laid-back enough to wait till you've read the book *before* commenting on it?'

belette - methinks you need to read the post before commenting!

'I have not read it yet but the title is not promising.'

I see no comment on the book, only on the title of the book.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Anon -5

Bert Bolin, A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change

Stephen Schneider, Science as a Contact Sport

both from the same side of the debate, with Bolin being less combative.

Nothing comes to mind as regards the likes of Lindzen, Michaels, but I may have missed something.

Maybe this in itself is an interesting observation.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Forgot to include

James Hansen, Storms of my Grandchildren

Again, same side

Anonymous said...

Anon5, the suitable counterpart book would be
"The Hockey Stick Illusion" by Andrew Montford.

An interesting exercise for anyone with an open mind on the issue would be to read these two books together.

Unfortunately, there are not many people who are sufficiently interested to read both books who have an open mind. Most interested people have already made their minds up and so would be prejudiced in one direction or the other.


Werner Krauss said...


Excellent idea! It would be great to have these books read by someone who is interested in science literature from a literary perspective; read those books from a genre perspective, for example. With an eye on how the authors stage themselves, how they make themselves credible, what kind of story telling etc...

Anonymous said...

Reiner, you are missing Roy Spencer's "I am Galileo!" book.

OK, the title is a bit different, and actually reads
"The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climate Scientists"

Roy has written a few more.

Of course, also Pat Michaels has written a book (claiming it is all political), there are books by Larry Bell, Brian Sussman, Bob Carter, Steve Goreham, Donna Laframboise, Ian Plimer, Fred Singer, Ralph Alexander etc. etc. etc.

Common theme in those books are claims of collusion, fraud, and bad science.


Anonymous said...


danke für die Einladung.

Wie gesagt: Hockeystickdebatte interessiert mich nicht (es wird keine vergleichende Lektüre Montford/Mann geben ;-), mich interessiert die Person M.E. Mann. Falls das Buch dazu interessante Aspekte erbringt, werde ich gerne etwas darüber schreiben, ein Schwerpunkt wird z.B. der Aspekt der "Wagenburgmentalität" sein.

Herzlichen Dank

Anon-5 said...

Reiner, thanks for the list. The idea however is, what Anon13 proposes: Read an account "from the other side" together with Mann's book.

Anon13, thanks for hinting at the Montford book. From looking at toc and reviews I am not sure whether it is what I want: A personal account from someone who is professionally involved in the "conflict". I want to compare the personal, subjective perspectives from people deeply involved in the issue. But looking it up at Amazon gave a lot of other books from the same "side". Bam mentioned many of them. So I renew the question: Please recommend one of those "skeptic" books for the purpose stated above. If you don't like its content, recommend for literary quality, please.

And yes, I don't need technical information about the Hockestick by journalists who reiterate blog posts. Also not from Mann, but I'll survive it. I have a pretty robust opinion about it, and I used 4 papers, Wilks' "Statistical Methods", the data, and R to get it.

Anonymous said...

@ Bam

I think, Reiner and I are looking for something different: A book written by a skeptic scientist about how he became a skeptic, about his feelings and experiences.

If for example Lindzen would write such a book, I would read it.


Heber Rizzo said...

I think he is already feeling the cold, that's why he is getting so hot.

After all, massaging graphs is not enough when the sun isn´t helping.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon

"A personal account from someone who is professionally involved "

Here's one ...

If you don't want to read these here ...

V. Lenzer

Anon-5 said...

Thanks, V.Lenzer. Pielke's book is ordered already. The other two really don't look interesting to me.

I would like to read the personal story of someone who, like Mann, found himself in the Debate as a result from doing his or her little business and only then took sides, got involved, maybe even radicalized. That pretty much excludes journalists and authors who just like to write about controversies. Lindzen would be a candidate, for example.

Maybe there are't accounts like that from the 'skeptic' side. I agree with Reiner that this asymmetry could be an interesting observation in itself ...

Roddy said...

Anon-5 #21

She's not a sceptic in the usual way, but Judith Curry at Climate etc used to go about 'her little business'. Then she spoke up about uncertainty and advocacy and other matters, and while you wouldn't say she has been 'radicalised' she certainly has been jaundiced by some of the reaction she has had from activist scientists, and her blogs reflect that.

Anonymous said...

Frage an
Professor von Storch,
Dr. Zorita:

Könnten Sie ev. das neue Paper von Ljungqvist hier besprechen, wäre doch interessant.


@ReinerGrundmann said...

Review auf Knopfdruck? Ich denke soweit ist die Dienstleistungsgesellschaft noch nicht. Machen Sie doch einen Anfang!

Anonymous said...

@ anon

"I would like to read the personal story of someone who, like Mann, found himself in the Debate as a result from doing his or her little business ..."

It's difficult to find books dealing with this specific issue - scientist are maybe as vain as other people (or even more ...) but usually they don't write books on personal matters.

You could do some background research on the case of Chris Landsea ...

and on the trying experiences of other scientists dissenting with the IPCC ... Nils-Axel Mörner, Henryk Svensmark, Augusto Mangini - just to name a few.

Or take this example of how the the debate is overheating, rather producing ad hominem attacks than new and useful arguments ...

V. Lenzer

Anonymous said...

Lieber Herr Grundmann,

ich habe länger hier nicht gepostet und vergaß, wie die Lager hier so verlaufen - bedauerlich, mein Fehler.

Ich kann Sie beruhigen, ich habe auf meinem Blog sicher schon mehr als 200 Studien aufgeführt, einige davon kommentiert, auf alle verwiesen.

Und ich werde Ihnen jetzt noch etwas mitteilen. Nach der Durchsicht der WG Liste für die AR5 überkommt mich das Gefühl, dass die MWP nun endgültig aus der Nomenklatur gestrichen wird. Dies wird noch genauer zu eruieren sein. Jedenfalls scheinen nicht wenige der ausgewählten Autoren in vergangenen Studien schon WP mit CA verwechselt zu haben.

Seien Sie unbesorgt, auch in der neuen Studie von Ljungqvist et al. wird von einer MWP ausgegangen (231f).

"Temperatures from the 9th to 12th centuries are generally above the long-term mean, gradually cooling to below the mean in the 16th to 19th centuries and reaching a maximum cooling in the 17th century. ... The dominance of warm anomalies during the MWP and cold anomalies during the LIA is substantiated by results from the sign test (Fig. B1) that shows where and when there is significant aggreement between the sign, positive or negative, of the proxies within their search radius (for more details see Appendix B)."


Ps. Die Hunderten Stunden Arbeit für mein Blog mache ich unentgeltlich. Würden Wissenschafter ihren Job machen, wie es sich gehört, bräuchte es Blogs wie meines nicht. Soviel zum Thema Dienstleistungsgesellschaft.

Stan said...

It would appear that Mann has departed this world for a fantasy world of his own imagination. If you strip away the lies and slanders, the article would have nothing left.

Anonymous said...

Well, Stan, I am sure you are going to point out the lies and slanders, right?


@ReinerGrundmann said...

thanks for the pointer but you should not assume that Michael Mann is lying.
I think the the title of this thread is vindicated by what he says. I rarely heard someone saying that the CRU emails undermined the Copenhagen talks. And this is the first time someone calls the use of the emails as "crime against humanity".
Rather than assuming he is lying his statements in the Guardian interview point to a much more subtle mechanism of defence: There are reasons now to take the gloves off. There is a rapid response team. Things will get dirty. He paints himself as someone who has been persecuted, who is a victim of a hate campaign, who is left with no choice than to hit back. Someone who has the moral right to do so.
It would be a great mistake for his supporters to follow him down the chosen war path. Even if this only rhetoric, it will do more than harm than good for the cause.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

There is an excellent comment here on the topic of name calling in the climate debate. Above, Stan accused Mann of lying, on another thread Rob Dekker tried it on Heartland.

In fact, the following two quotes show that how this game is enjoyed on both sides:

Warmists are either stupid or dishonest.

Of course climate deniers are not merely stupid, ignorant... They are also dishonest, manipulative, and arrogant.

As Joe Smith points out on his blog,

"These are two sample quotes picked out in a few seconds of googling. It’s not good is it? Climate change science and policy has risen in prominence in parallel with social media, where distance and anonymity can erode the kind of good manners almost all of us manage to muster in real public places. Sociologists exploring racism or other kinds of discrimination talk of processes of ‘othering’ that make it possible for one group of people to dehumanise another."

I urge everyone to read the whole thing. It is rather short.

Anonymous said...

On Language and Wars. 'Declare Independence'

One other – often to many a somewhat *cool* – singer is the Icelandic Björk. Once she staged radically a quite strange and dramatic sort of a working process for a anti-colonialism network that produced some endless "hockeysticks" and "spaghetti graphs" – in various ways; shown in her – a lil bit seemingly psychotic – high-pitched electro punk rock battle song "Declare Independence", respectively in her eponymous video directed by Michel Gondryan from January 2008 on the album "Volta" (Confer "spaghetti graphs" and "hockeysticks" especially in man(n) made charts or climate sciences.).

Her performance displays a multi lateral (see also the "guitar player" in the video), desturbing vision, presented as a confrontative happening, whose participants, militarized people and among them for example a few with a "blue helmet", are challenged by starting a "revolution" to get "upwards" to a higer ground. Björk, or else her silently cru*ahem* group or crew, demonstrates theatrically, how a Gleichschaltung (here in collective jumping to a trampling beat) can function as an elevator for colourless people/puppets to a new, higher level for a network, where deviced circling processes lead to abtract, new kinds of coloured spaghetti graphs. (The system will perhaps lead due to a constructional fault, by means of a midification of a closed system, to a "catastrophe": The vanishing of the diversity of colours. In the making of the "revolution" the starting products, i.e. for example white strings and a huge paper ring, are getting colours (confer also Albert Camus for instance here) and can remind us to a "Barometrograph-Protokol" (confer for example here the last paragraph) at the higher plane. Theoretically, all colours mixed together will result in black colour, or a dark gray; practically, the added colours will sum up rather as dark brown.)

The minimalist music rattles monotonously; Björk repeats some verses of her climactic recitative, especially the lines:

"Declare Independence / Don't let them do that to you"

occur many times; during the song that verse appears more often, sometimes spoken in a calm way, sometimes being screamed. In the beginning parts Björk hisses a few times, scarcely perceptible, like a snake the word "Justice".

Truly Herderian she demands:

"Protect your language".


Excerpts out of the poem "Das Karussell" from Rainer Maria Rilke (1906):

"Mit einem Dach und seinem Schatten dreht
sich eine kleine Weile der Bestand
von bunten Pferden, alle aus dem Land,
das lange zögert, eh es untergeht.
Zwar manche sind an Wagen angespannt,
doch alle haben Mut in ihren Mienen;
ein böser roter Löwe geht mit ihnen
und dann und wann ein weißer Elefant.


Und das geht hin und eilt sich, dass es endet,
und kreist und dreht sich nur und hat kein Ziel.
Ein Rot, ein Grün, ein Grau vorbeigesendet,
ein kleines kaum begonnenes Profil -.
Und manchesmal ein Lächeln, hergewendet,
ein seliges, das blendet und verschwendet
an dieses atemlose blinde Spiel..."


Anonymous said...

One further *cool* battle song, again, rather of the extreme end, is Nina Simone's rapping, entiteled "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter", "'bout the same old thing" in 1974 on the album It Is Finished:

"[...] You do your thinking with a one track mind / Keep talkin' about heaven glory but / On your face is a different story / Clean up your rap your story's getting dusty [...] 'Cause I'm around and I see what you do [...] I got something to tell ya / I got something to tell you baby / But you ain't hip to baby / Blowin' minds is a thing of the past / You blew your chance that's why you never last [...] // You put yourself upon a big stool / Nothin' worse than an educated fool [...] What's in your head has really started showing / Your conversation gettin' kinda boring / Can't believe nothin' you say / 'Cause I'm around and I see what you do [...] You know you funkier than a mosquito's tweeter / You got a mouth like a herd of boll weevils / Same old game, same old game / Same old thing you never change [...]".


Anon-5 said...

V.Lenzer, thanks for the names!
Without a book, but with some interviews and articles they provided a nice sample of the "variability" of not-in-IPCC-line scientists.

Landsea: Got a bit pissed and won't do work for IPCC anymore because Trenberth talked BS at press conference. OK reaction, a bit whiny perhaps. Anyways, he seems to remain an intact, productive and respected member of his peer-group.

Mörner: Probably was a respected man in the last millennium, now he is making a fool of himself in interviews and publishes Geofantasy. Sad.

Svensmark: Difficult. He always looks very sad. Was up to something, in 1997, but didn't really move on. He got stuck. Yet, deserves quite some credit for actually being novel (back then). Chances that the Svensmark-Effect actually impacts climate in any relevant way are very slim now.

Mangini: Top notch researcher, highly active, collaborating with all the other top paleo guys. Now here is one guy who really can criticize the IPCC science (he did), must be taken serious (he was, they fixed it in AR5, if the 0-order draft is any good), can be pitched against Stocker and looks good, against Rahmstorf and wins, and makes Rahmstorf display himself as a an overstrained marketing clerk.

Ok, and I learned more about Rahmstorf than I ever wanted to know.

Anonymous said...

@ anon

Nice to see somebody working hard trying to get a balanced view on what happened these last years.
Someone - I don't remember who actually - called them "the dark years of science".

Try to be careful in personal assessments. A good part of the problem we are discussing here lies in the ad hominem attacks on dissenting proponents and their excommunicating for whatever reasons.

Mörner's controversial personality and his private convictions don't tell much about whether he's right or wrong in the sea level rise debate.

The question is: has he made a valuable contribution to science or is he flat-out wrong like his opponents say?

"Svensmark. Difficult. He always looks very sad."

What a judgement!
There remains a lot of work to be done on the issue.

No comment on the last two sentences of your post but I appreciate the merited "rehabilitation" of Mangini's work and reputation - if ever it was necessary.

The Stocker/Mangini debate: watch the moderators face at 8'35'' - it will tell you a lot about biased journalism ...

V. Lenzer

Anon-5 said...

@V. Lenzer

"Try to be careful in personal assessments."

Try to do without! Of course, in an ideal world we'd be all experts on sea-level, cosmic radiation, cloud formation, stalagmites, stable isotopes and hurricanes. I am not, though. So either leave it to the experts == believe the mainstream, or use secondary information to form your opinion. And that involves an assessment of personality of some proponents. You do it anyways, so you might as well be open about it. And I believe its useful: There is the "mark of the crackpot"; I have heuristics to identify them without being able to debunk them in detail. E.g. triggered by that. I think it is permissible to draw conclusions about an expert's opinion from being bored by his repetitive sales pitch on all available channels.

In a way you are right of course: An expert who argues in his or her field against an expert and uses ad hominem attacks will not score in my heuristics ...

Mathis Hampel said...’t-stop-climate-change

check out the 3S blog 'Merton Stone' for more interesting work on climate science.


@ReinerGrundmann said...

The Wall Street Journal has a review of Mann;s book from which this quote is taken:

"Yet for all his caviling about "smear campaigns," "conspiracy theorists" and "character assassination," Mr. Mann is happy to employ similar tactics against his opponents. Patrick Michaels, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a past program chair of the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Applied Climatology, is introduced as "a prominent climate change contrarian at the University of Virginia primarily known for his advocacy for the fossil fuel industry." (Nowhere does Mr. Mann explain why a scientist might be more easily corrupted by a check from, say, a coal company than by one from a politically controlled institution.)"

Certainly a valid point in my view

And it concludes:

"Mr. Mann closes "The Hockey Stick" with a passionate call for more scientists to join him "on the front lines of the climate wars." "Scientific truth alone," Mr. Mann writes, "is not enough to carry the day in the court of public opinion." It would be "irresponsible," he says, "for us to silently stand by while industry-funded climate change deniers succeed in confusing and distracting the public and dissuading our policy makers from taking appropriate actions." These are unfortunate conclusions for a scientist-turned-climate-warrior whose greatest weakness has always been a low estimation of the public intellect."

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Here is a review from Simon Lewis in Naure (£ -walled):

Here is the bit that counts (for me, anyway):

"Although there is little in the book with which I seriously disagree, it left me uneasy. Many scientists will agree with Mann's three basic points: that climate change is a major societal problem; that there are campaigns to convince the public that this is not the case; and that scientists should engage with society and not allow the public to be “confused and misled by industry-funded propaganda”.

However, I am unconvinced that presenting the attacks as a “climate war” waged by a “corporate-funded denial machine” is the best way to help scientists to counter misinformation. It makes good copy, but the war metaphor, with its talk of battle scars and front lines, is unlikely to be an ideal communication strategy: it is, by definition, polarizing. Because denial that climate change poses a problem for society is associated mainly with right-wing political views, science communication needs to transcend ideological divides, not reinforce them."