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Steve Hinnefeld
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Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Scientist Michael Mann will speak about 'Climate Wars' at IU Bloomington

News media: Michael Mann will be available for questions from reporters at 7:30 p.m. April 17 at the IMU Georgian Room. Contact Steve Hinnefeld at IU Communications, 812-856-3488 or slhinnef@iu.edu, for more information.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Penn State climatologist Michael Mann, who helped produce the iconic "hockey stick" graph showing that the Earth's temperatures increased significantly in recent decades, will give a public lecture during 2012 Earth Week at Indiana University Bloomington.

Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, will speak on "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars" at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in the Georgian Room of the Indiana Memorial Union. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Michael Mann

Photo by Tom Cogill

Michael Mann

A book-signing event for Mann's new book, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From the Front Lines," published this spring by Columbia University Press, will follow the lecture, which is sponsored by the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. In addition to giving a public talk, Mann will meet with students and faculty at SPEA.

In the 1990s, Mann and several colleagues used data from sources such as tree rings, ice cores and corals to estimate Earth's temperatures going back 1,000 years. A graph of the data had the appearance of a hockey stick, with the sharp rise in recent temperatures appearing as the blade of the stick. Included in a 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the graph became a clear symbol for evidence that human activities were causing global warming.

Mann will tell the story behind the hockey stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science, the uneasy relationship between science and politics, and the dangers that arise when economic interests skew the discourse on policy.

"In short, I attempt to use the hockey stick to cut through the fog of disinformation that has been generated by the campaign to deny the reality of climate change," he said. "It is my intent, in so doing, to reveal the very real threat to our future that lies behind it."

Mann says he became a reluctant participant in the political and rhetorical battles over climate change. He was singled out for attacks by politicians and pundits, had his research investigated by governmental and university panels, and even received death threats. In a 2009 episode, emails by Mann and other climate researchers were stolen, made public and used to discredit his work.

Just last month, the Virginia Supreme Court quashed an attempt by the state's attorney general to access Mann's research and email records from when he worked at the University of Virginia.

"The trouble is that the hockey stick graph became an icon, and deniers reckoned if they could smash the icon, the whole concept of global warming would be destroyed with it," Mann told the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. "It is a classic technique for the deniers' movement, I have discovered, and I don't mean only those who reject the idea of global warming but those who insist that smoking doesn't cause cancer or that industrial pollution isn't linked to acid rain."

Mann holds faculty positions at Penn State in the departments of Meteorology and Geosciences and with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He was a lead author of the "Observed Climate Variability and Change" chapter of the IPCC Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and chaired the organizing committee for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science initiative in 2003. In 2012 he was inducted as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union.

Mann received undergraduate degrees in physics and applied math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. in physics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth's climate system.

He is the author of more than 140 peer-reviewed and edited publications. In addition to "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars," he is co-author of the book "Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming." He is a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning website RealClimate.org.