A Climate Warrior Puts It All on the Line — Including His Life
The climate war — the public opinion battle between skeptics of man-made global warming and those who believe in the scientific consensus — escalated to a new level of ferocity this past month. First a series of memos allegedly from the Heartland Institute — a libertarian think tank that has long supported climate skepticism — surfaced on the Internet, detailing the group’s previously anonymous corporate funding and outlining its plan to fight action on global warming. Then came the news last week that the Heartland memos had been fraudulently acquired by the environmental advocate and scientist Peter Gleick, who — after allegedly being sent an initial memo by a person he identified as a Heartland insider — impersonated as a Heartland board member via email in order to obtain several additional internal documents. Worse, Heartland now claims one of the memos was doctored — while nonetheless confirming that it plans to push global warming skepticism in the nation’s schools, opening up one more, very impressionable front in the seemingly endless climate war.
If there’s anyone who knows how nasty the climate fight can be, it’s Penn State climatologist Michael Mann. Mann, who has been involved with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for over a decade, gets regular death threats at his office. He’s been the target of a lengthy — and, critics say, politically motivated — investigation by the attorney general of Virginia. His private emails to colleagues have been hacked and published, and he’s become a major public target for Heartland and like-minded groups. “I guess over the years I’ve experienced quite a few adventures,” says Mann, who is about to publish book on his experiences, called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. “It’s given me not just a solid understanding of the problem of man-made climate change, but also the campaign — largely funded by the fossil fuel industry — to deny that science.”