The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

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Overview

In its 2001 report on global climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations prominently featured the "Hockey Stick," a chart showing global temperature data over the past one thousand years. The Hockey Stick demonstrated that temperature had risen with the increase in industrialization and use of fossil fuels. The inescapable conclusion was that worldwide human activity since the industrial age had raised CO2 levels, trapping greenhouse gases in the...

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The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

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Overview

In its 2001 report on global climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations prominently featured the "Hockey Stick," a chart showing global temperature data over the past one thousand years. The Hockey Stick demonstrated that temperature had risen with the increase in industrialization and use of fossil fuels. The inescapable conclusion was that worldwide human activity since the industrial age had raised CO2 levels, trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and warming the planet.

The Hockey Stick became a central icon in the "climate wars," and well-funded science deniers immediately attacked the chart and the scientists responsible for it. Yet the controversy has had little to do with the depicted temperature rise and much more with the perceived threat the graph posed to those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect our environment and planet. Michael E. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the real story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He introduces key figures in the oil and energy industries, and the media front groups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, bare-knuckled ways to cast doubt on the science. Mann concludes with an account of the "Climategate" scandal, the 2009 hacking of climate scientists' emails. Throughout, Mann reveals the role of science deniers, abetted by an uninformed media, in once again diverting attention away from one of the central scientific and policy issues of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this meticulous and engaging brief on climate change research and the political backlash to legitimate scientific work, Penn State professor Mann narrates the fight against misinformation from the inside. As a member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), Mann helped compile 1,000 years of temperature data that when graphed, illustrates the extreme rise in degrees at the end of the 20th century. The persuasiveness of the “hockey stick,” as it was dubbed, made Mann an instant political target. In the 2009 hacking scandal known as “Climategate,” emails discussing the mathematical models he used to create the figure were said to prove an international conspiracy to dupe the public. That controversy, Mann writes, is only the latest attempt by deniers to discredit scientists one by one; for decades, powerful interests have spent untold millions to tarnish legitimate research and the reputation of scholars who have dedicated their lives to understanding our world. Although the book sometimes slides into overly technical language, Mann balances the statistical analysis with charming personal anecdotes from his life and work. Careful descriptions of the methods and models behind climate change science bear out that assertion, proving that the only way to counter dangerous lies is to expose the truth, however inconvenient it might be. (Mar.)
Bill Nye the Science Guy

If you don't believe our climate is changing, read this book. Dr. Mann will change your mind. For us, it's a war of words. Preserve the Earth, and pass the ammunition.

The Science Guy - Bill Nye
If you don't believe our climate is changing, read this book. Dr. Mann will change your mind. For us, it's a war of words. Preserve the Earth, and pass the ammunition.
Daily Kos
The best part, in my science-geeky opinion, is readers of this book will enjoy a dazzling, informative tour of the science underlying climatology and especially the analysis that went into the diagram that caused all the ruckus.

— DarkSyde

Huffington Post
A harrowing ride through the politics of truth and denial.Huffington PostHuffington Post

— Shawn Lawrence Otto

Naples Daily News
...this is a book you should read, because it clearly shows the contrast between how science works and how politics works. The difference is dramatic. And fateful.

— Ben Bova

Star Tribune
...vitally important to all citizens of a warming planet Earth.

— James P. Lenfestey

Geoscientist
I heartily recommend this book for an unusually clear view of the action on the front line of climate science from one of its principle palaeoclimate protagonists.

— Colin Summerhayes

Physics Today
Mann deserves our respect and admiration for what he has been through and for his willingness to discuss it. The narrative is a deeply honest scientific coming-of-age story.

— Naomi Oreskes

Jeff Masters WunderGround Blog
a must read for every serious student of climate change science, and gets my highest rating: five stars out of five.

— Jeff Masters

Irish Times

And if you read just one book on climate change, make it Michael E. Mann's riveting exposé of disinformation and denial....

Huffington Post

A harrowing ride through the politics of truth and denial.Huffington Post

— Shawn Lawrence Otto

Daily Kos

The best part, in my science-geeky opinion, is readers of this book will enjoy a dazzling, informative tour of the science underlying climatology and especially the analysis that went into the diagram that caused all the ruckus.

— DarkSyde

Kirkus Reviews
From climate scientist Mann (Meteorology and Geosciences/Penn State Univ.; co-author: Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming, 2009, etc.), 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. The author was an originator of the "Hockey Stick," a graph showing that average temperatures today are higher than they have been for at least the past 1,000 years, which became an icon of the "climate wars" when published in a 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In 2009, he was among the scientists whose e-mails, hacked and posted online, gave rise to "Climategate." As a target of critics who deny the reality of climate change, he has been subject to smear campaigns and accusations aimed at discrediting his work. In fact, the validity of his work has been affirmed many times by leading scientists. Despite personal anger, Mann offers a scientist's factual chronicle of the evolution of the disinformation industry that has challenged climate science. He describes a "virtual Potemkin Village of pseudoscience institutions" including dozens of think tanks, such as the Advancement of Sound Science Center and the George C. Marshall Institute, many of them funded by Koch Industries and the Scaife Foundations, and all working to "introduce some measure of doubt into the public mindset." Noting connections between the climate-disinformation campaign and past industry-funded efforts to deny the dangers of smoking and other health threats, Mann details the many tools used by deniers: misleading articles, questionable petitions, cherry-picking of documents and one-sided conferences featuring deniers. With their need for controversy, immediacy and "balance" in reporting, even respected media have often "parroted" deniers' accusations and innuendo, giving credence to their claims. This blistering indictment of corporate-funded chicanery demands a wide audience.
Juliet Eilperin
The strength of Mann's book lies in the light he sheds on how the scientific peer-review process works, along with his first-hand account of his role in the national political feud.
—The Washington Post
Irish Times
And if you read just one book on climate change, make it Michael E. Mann's riveting exposé of disinformation and denial....
Australian Book Review
This book is well written and tells a remarkable story that is likely to be of interest to a wide range of readers.
Science
Mann's honest and thorough testimony on the attacks against climate science is a critical step toward resolving the climate change debate.
Bill McKibben

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, and this book is a remarkable account of the science and politics of the defining issue of our time.

Paul R. Ehrlich

A brilliant and courageous climatologist, Michael E. Mann knows what it's like to be viciously attacked by the well-funded deniers of scientific evidence and how critical it is to respond. In this gripping, personal, front-lines account of climate politics, he eloquently conveys the importance of both doing great science and communicating its societal implications to a wider public.

Chris Mooney

Michael E. Mann has been the most important, resilient, and outspoken warrior in the climate battle, responding to threats and persecution with courage and resolve every step of the way. Anyone who cares about the climate issue must read his fascinating -- and enraging -- story.

James Lovelock

Michael E. Mann presents his conviction that climate change is real and potentially deadly. A truly readable book on a topic that will remain evergreen.

Sherwood Boehlert

A must read to appreciate the endless disinformation campaign by climate change deniers at the highest levels of government and corporate America and the chilling yet serious implications of the crusade to discredit distinguished scientists like Michael E. Mann.

Henry Waxman

As one of the nation's leading climate researchers, no one has felt the brunt of the attacks from politicians and the fossil fuel industry more than Michael E. Mann. This is his personal account from the center of the maelstrom, documenting the lies and distortions about his work and his heroic efforts to stand up for scientific truth.

Daily Kos - DarkSyde
The best part, in my science-geeky opinion, is readers of this book will enjoy a dazzling, informative tour of the science underlying climatology and especially the analysis that went into the diagram that caused all the ruckus.
Huffington Post - Shawn Lawrence Otto
A harrowing ride through the politics of truth and denial.
Naples Daily News - Ben Bova
...this is a book you should read, because it clearly shows the contrast between how science works and how politics works. The difference is dramatic. And fateful.
Star Tribune - James P. Lenfestey
Vitally important to all citizens of a warming planet Earth.
Jeff Masters WunderGround Blog - Jeff Masters
A must read for every serious student of climate change science, and gets my highest rating: five stars out of five.
Geoscientist - Colin Summerhayes
I heartily recommend this book for an unusually clear view of the action on the front line of climate science from one of its principle palaeoclimate protagonists.
Physics Today - Naomi Oreskes
Mann deserves our respect and admiration for what he has been through and for his willingness to discuss it. The narrative is a deeply honest scientific coming-of-age story.
Choice

Mann's account and nontechnical rebuttal of the attacks on climate science provide an excellent primer on contemporary climate science....Highly recommended.

Chemical & Engineering News - Rudy M. Baum
One of the most useful books yet in explaining climate science, especially the use of paleoclimate proxy data to assess the history of Earth's climate.
Jerry Brown
Confronting climate change will require clear scientific thinking and courageous actions by many individuals. Dr, Mann's book details the powerful evidence supporting climate change as well as the relentless attempts by climate deniers to distort climate science and attack those who are speaking the truth about it.
Natural Hazards Observer
A very entertaining book that winds its way through the thicket of climate science and politics.
Rolling Stone - Jeff Goodell
must-read
Metascience - Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Mann deserves praise for taking the time to speak to other scientists and citizens about what threatens us all. He is not only a brilliant scientist but an ethical hero, a model for all.
Choice
Mann's account and nontechnical rebuttal of the attacks on climate science provide an excellent primer on contemporary climate science....Highly recommended.
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
If you read only one book on climate change, this one is hard to beat.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231152549
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 698,738
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael E. Mann is a member of the Penn State University faculty, holding joint positions in the Departments of Meteorology and Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (ESSI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). He received his undergraduate degrees in physics and applied math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from Yale University. He also received an outstanding publication award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and, in 2002, was named one of fifty leading visionaries in science and technology by Scientific American. He was awarded the 2012 Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union, and in the same year was inducted as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. With Lee Kump, he coauthored the book Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming, and is a cofounder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website, www.RealClimate.org. Along with other scientists who participated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations and AcronymsPrologue: What Is the Hockey Stick?1. Born in a War2. Climate Science Comes of Age3. Signals in the Noise4. The Making of the Hockey Stick5. The Origins of Denial6. A Candle in the Dark7. In the Line of Fire8. Hockey Stick Goes to Washington9. When You Get Your Picture on the Cover of...10. Say it Ain't So (Smokey) Joe!11. A Tale of Two Reports12. Heads of the Hydra13. The Battle of the Bulge14. Climategate: The Real Story15. Fighting BackEpilogueGlossaryNotesSelected BibliographyAcknowledgmentsIndex

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Outstanding, intelligent explanation of the real science behind climate change

    The first author of the MBH hockey stick papers has performed a valuable service by writing a book that goes well beyond just saying, "Trust me, those deniers are dummies." He treats the reader as intelligent and able to understand a well-presented scientific argument addressed at the nonspecialist, and thus has made a valuable contribution to the wider public realization of the real lack of scientific underpinnings in the attacks on the hockey stick and related work. Basic blunders in the contrarian work by some of denial's main figures (simple errors in their own attempts to apply principal component analysis; using degrees in functions that expect input in radians; confusion of a function with its derivative; the list goes on and on) should be required knowledge for any journalist still thinking that "balance" is needed between carefully done research in this area and the shoddy work that Mann exposes here. Everyone - get a copy, read it, understand it, and think about it the next time you hear about that "bombshell" paper that just came out showing that humans aren't causing global warming. Those bombshells generally seem to blow up in their authors' faces.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    A man from the headlines publishes his story

    I probably first read Dr. Michael Mann's name on the Web site of the Norfolk, Va., newspaper in association with a witch hunt the Virginia attorney general - a climate change denalist - had undertaken against him in the so-called "climategate" thingee - case that took on media wheels thanks in large part to conservative, right-wing outlets like FOX News. Dr. Mann is on the faculty at Penn State's main campus at State College, Pa. My late wife was a Penn State faculty member and academic official at the university's campus at Hazleton, Pa. So naturally I follow Penn State events and people pretty closely. But what really makes this book a must-read for Americans today is the science that drives its conclusion: Human activities, like burning coal and gasoline, are warming the planet, the only one we've got.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    An Important Book That Everyone Should Read.

    This is a highly readable book about scientists and global warming. There is a natural variation in climate in the history of the planet, but there is also a recent warming trend associated with burning fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry has funded dozens of astroturf groups to deny global warming , or if there is global warming, that fossil fuels have contributed to it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    A clear and detailed writing of how the bought and paid for medi

    A clear and detailed writing of how the bought and paid for media has smeared the science.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2012

    In this book Professor Michael Mann brilliantly interweaves thre

    In this book Professor Michael Mann brilliantly interweaves three threads: how a curious person becomes a scientist and rises up the career ladder, what multiproxy temperature reconstruction is all about, and the fight against accepted, but inconvenient, science. Mann’s research showing that recent temperatures were unprecedented over the last 1000 or so years became a focal point for both climate scientists and their powerful foes, and Mann and his work were attacked by business and ideological interests. Mann recounts his own personal interest in science, how multiproxy reconstructions are done, and the resulting battles against his research. Each of these aspects is well-covered by a good writer and communicator; this is a story of curiosity and opportunity, a story of the science told in a way that an interested layman can understand it, and the story of a battle to defend good science. The reader will learn the science, but will also learn the tactics that the opponents of science use, and the way that scientists are targeted. (note: review copy provided)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Wow, Mann provides enough empirical evidence for you to arm your

    Wow, Mann provides enough empirical evidence for you to arm yourself against your unbelieving Uncle. I thought I already understood all about global warming and the political rhetoric around it, but this book made me realize how little I knew. Great book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

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    Posted September 28, 2012

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