Penn State climatologist criticizes terrifying NY Mag climate change story that went viral

Famine. Economic Collapse. A sun that cooks us. A New York Magazine story about the problems climate change could wreak on humanity is certainly designed to make an impact.

…snip…

One climatologist, however, is throwing cold water on Wallace-Well’s alarming scorched-Earth tale.

Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University and director of the school’s Earth System Science Center, called out the “doomist framing” of the piece in a lengthy Facebook post, noting that there is a danger in overstating the dangers of climate change.

 “The article argues that climate change will render the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century,” Mann wrote. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it.”

Mann says the article overstates some of the science in order to paint a bleak picture of an Earth that could be uninhabitable by the end of this century. For instance, Mann points to the near-term threat of climate “feedbacks” involving the release of frozen methane, noting that the science is actually more nuanced than the article indicates and doesn’t support the notion of a “planet-melting methane bomb.”

Mann also has problems with a specific line in Wallace-Well’s piece that claimed: “satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought.”

“That’s just not true,” Mann wrote. “The study in question simply showed that one particular satellite temperature dataset that had tended to show ‘less’ warming than the other datasets, has now been brought in line with the other temperature data after some problems with that dataset were dealt with.”

Mann said the accounting for the new corrected data, the warming of the planet is progressing fairly close to what climate scientists predicted, which he notes “is bad enough.”

“The evidence that climate change is a serious problem that we must contend with now is overwhelming on its own,” Mann wrote. “There is no need to overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.”

Wallace-Wells did not respond to a request for comment, but he did respond to Mann’s lengthy critique of his story on Twitter late Monday morning.

Read more at Philly.com

Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    I can still remember all this Malarkey about how in the future the earth would be so poluted we would all be wearing Gas Masks to go outside or our cities would be kept under giant domes Paul Ehrlich and his Population Bomb poppycock(It was a dud)Silent Spring,Earth in the Balance,Stop Globeal Warming the solution is You,50 Simple Things Kids Can do to Save the Earth and THE DOWN TO EARTH GUIDE to GLOBAL WARMING nothing but lies,junk science and calls for Big Goverment all under the Useless Nations

    • Avatar

      Sonnyhill

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      LOL! I went to a high school Halloween party wearing plastic sheets, a WWI gas mask, carrying a sign that said ” BREATH DEEP THE END IS NEAR”. 1972, it was a hit.

    • Avatar

      rakooi

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      WELL Spurwing Plover….without Federal Action, we were well on our way…but here is where we were:
      1. Air
      Before the government began to rein in pollution from smokestacks and tailpipe, dense, dark and even choking smog was a frequent occurrence in American cities and towns.
      .
      In 1948,
      spectators at a football game in Donora, Pennsylvania couldn’t see the players or the ball because of smog from a nearby coal-fired zinc smelter; 20 people died.
      .
      In Los Angeles in the 1960s, smog very often hid the mountains.
      .
      The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave EPA the authority to regulate harmful air pollutants.
      .
      One of the most dramatic success stories was lead, which was widely used in paint but also in gasoline to improve engine performance.
      .
      ….estimated that more than 5,000 Americans were dying every year from heart disease linked to lead poisoning;
      many children were growing up with seriously diminished IQ.
      .
      ** By 1974, the EPA began a phase out of lead from gasoline. The gradual effort took until 1995 to completely end the practice,
      but the result has been a measurable 75 percent drop in blood lead levels in the public.
      .
      Thanks to Clean Air Act rules,
      the levels of many other toxic substances in our air, such as mercury, benzene, and arsenic, have also dropped substantially.
      .
      A major update to the law in 1990 allowed EPA to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants, the main cause of acid rain. Life has begun to come back in acidified lakes in the Adirondacks.

      Complying with EPA’s air pollution rules has been costly
      —they’re the biggest burden the agency imposes on the economy.

      But the federal Office of Management and Budget, analyzing data collected from 2004 to 2014, estimates that the health and other benefits of the rules exceeded the costs
      **
      The Cuyahoga River
      was once one of the most polluted rivers in the United States as represented by the multitude of times it has caught fire, a recorded number of thirteen starting in 1868.
      .
      The most potent blaze occurred in 1952 which caused over $1.3 million in damages however,
      the most fatal fire happened in 1912 with a documented five deaths. The 1969 fire, which did not incur maximum damages or fatally wound any citizen, was the most covered incident occuring on the river.
      This was in part because of the developing precedence that sanitation held over industrial actions; the United States was becoming more eco-aware.
      .
      Also, due to the shift from industry to technology, waste dumping to recycling Time Magazine produced an article about the incident. This brought mass amount of attention to the Cleveland area
      and added pressure for hygienic regulation.

      Inspired by the 1969 river fire,
      Congress was determined to resolve the issue of land pollution, not just in Cleveland, but throughout the United States.
      .
      The legislature passed the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) which was signed into law on January 1, 1970. This act helped establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would be given the duties to manage environmental risks and regulate various sanitary-specific policies.
      .
      One of the first legislations that the EPA put-forth was the Clean Water Act (1972), which mandated that all rivers throughout the United States be hygienic enough to safely allow mass amounts of swimmers and fish within the water by 1983. Since the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has invested over $3.5 billion towards the purification of the river and the development of new sewer systems. There is a projection that over the next thirty years the city of Cleveland will further endow over $5 billion to the upkeep of the wastewater system.

      The river is now home to about sixty different species of fish, there has not been another river fire since 1969, and yearly new waste management programs develop to ensure the sanitation of Cleveland’s waterways….”

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Mann could have stayed silent but didn’t . So good on him .
    Climate science suffers credibility issues when exaggerated non-sense gets spewed out . New York magazine just went JUNK .
    No denying that .

  • Avatar

    rakooi

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    SADLY,
    “The notion that climate scientists either invented or exaggerated global warming is ONE that’s been rumbling around for quite some time. …It’s often used as an argument to OPPOSE / DENY the theory of global warming, but it’s not something that has ever been substantiated
    – despite my numerous requests for links to any corroborating evidence.

    “It’s actually quite a bizarre claim given that global warming will be celebrating it’s 200th birthday in a few days.
    (Though postulated in 1799)
    The first scientific connection to global warming dates from 1811,when the physicist and astronomer Simeon Denis Poisson Postulated that atmospheric pollution led to increased temperatures.

    https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111129193035AAnHMH2

    “Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier – was a French mathematician and physicist born in Auxerre and best known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series & their applications to problems
    of heat transfer and vibrations.
    http://burgess1837.geologist-1011.mobi/

    “In 1896 the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius was the first person to produce documented empirical evidence as to the existence of global warming, this was published in his paper “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground”
    (carbonic acid being the chemical name of the time for carbon dioxide).
    http://www.rsc.org/images/Arrhenius1896_

    “It’s claimed that scientists falsify the theory of global warming in order to receive funding. The problem with this argument is that any funding that is provided (not to individuals but to respected & tightly monitored institutions) will be strictly controlled and in most cases will be monitored and audited by the funding body and / or their appointed auditors and/or the institutions.

    “Any deliberate misappropriation of funding would be a criminal offence for which the offender could be jailed.

    ** This has never happened.

    The Virginia State Attorney – Ken Cuccinelli – embarked on something of a witch-hunt against the climate scientist Michael Mann and invoked the
    ** Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act ……claiming that Dr. Mann had misappropriated public funds.

    The Judge threw the case out.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release

    I’m actually a climate scientist myself and I can assure you that it’s nothing to do with the money
    (I work in the private sector so there’s almost no public funding available).
    (After 5 years, the average Researcher with nearly 2 advanced degrees earns Less than a 1st Year Elementary School Teacher, even though that researcher has at least 1 more degree)
    Anyone embarking on a climate science study course is well aware that they’re never going to become rich.

    If they were more concerned about money they would use their scientific background and work in petrochemicals or pharmaceuticals.

    It’s also assumed that climate scientists do nothing other than study climate change.

    In reality, this makes up a small proportion of the workload and many scientists will go through their whole career without ever researching climate change.

    The argument falls flat on it’s face yet again when you consider that companies with the most to lose from climate change being a reality
    – the oil and power companies – have their own in-house climate scientists and they are reporting exactly the same as those working in the public sector.

    Furthermore, climate change is a multi-disciplinary subject and involves scientists from a wide spectrum including botanists, marine biologists, oceanographers,
    cosmologists, physicists, atmospheric chemists etc.

    *It stretches credibility beyond all forms of reason to believe that such a huge number of people could be involved in a scam and not one person has ever spoken out.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind that the first warnings made to the US government about impending climate change came from research conducted by
    the US Army at the Camp Century base in Greenland.
    Are we also to believe that the military are also involved in some sort of global conspiracy?

    PS – The psychological aspect of climate change can be found within the realms
    of the psychology of denial and the diffusion of responsibility.
    These conditions manifest themselves as
    a) a filter mechanism that inhibits
    the acceptance of conflicting ideas and opinions in order to maintain a delusion and
    b) the reluctance to become involved on the basis that someone else will deal with the problem.
    Source(s):
    I’m a climate scientist and my Mum’s a retired professor of psychology
    Trevor ·
    6 years ago ..”

    This Scientist spoke out a decade ago about the same old tired disproven allegations by Skeptics and Deniers…..all, without foundation, without proof, as if RETURNED FROM THE DEAD! !

    • Avatar

      Sonnyhill

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      I sympathize, he who pays the piper calls the tune. We all gotta eat.

    • Avatar

      Steve

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      Hey RAKOOI, can you name one IPCC model that has actually been accurate?

      Might be an infinitely long wait…

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