Michael Mann: Let’s Not Jump Off a Cliff

Michael Mann has weathered more than his fair share of slings and arrows for his climate activism, and one year ago few expected that the projectiles would yet increase in size, velocity, and frequency. But here we are, fighting the same climate battle against the same entrenched interests, aided by a federal government that is so hostile to reason and science that there is almost no hope of reaching them.

Well, maybe not “no” hope? Not knowing that Trump would be the next president, Mann partnered with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles for the book The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying our Politics, and Driving us Crazy. What a coincidence! Because what better way to communicate to Donald Trump a complex topic like climate change than through funny cartoons? It’s fool-proof.

Or not. Clearly, the book either didn’t move Trump, or he mistook it for a book full of just words and avoided it altogether. Never fear, because Mann has a new plan: A children’s picture book on climate change, done in collaboration with Megan Herbert, called The Tantrum that Saved the World. Not only is the book obviously full of big, easy to understand pictures, but it’s about a tantrum, which Trump will certainly relate to. There’s a Kickstarter for this project, so let’s see if it changes the course of the administration.

All that aside, we all understand the challenge before us. Somehow, the general electorate has to be reached, especially if so many of their elected officials won’t be. The idea that something is “just a theory” or contains degrees of uncertainty should not excuse the public from recognizing the very real threat. (Mann pointed out that even our understanding of gravity has uncertainties, but that doesn’t mean we go an jump off a cliff.)

Wildfires and superstorms are wreaking havoc and destruction. We have to get real about what’s happening to our habitat. As Mann said, “You can’t solve the problem if you’re not willing to discuss the underlying cause.”

Yes, you’d think that’d be so, wouldn’t you?

3 thoughts on “Michael Mann: Let’s Not Jump Off a Cliff”

  1. Sorry to mention it here, but there’s a typo in your text at the end :

    “You can’t solve the problem if you’re not willing to discuss the underlying cuase.”
    I guess ‘cuase’ should be ’cause’.

  2. Hi Michael,
    I tried to speak with you after your presentation, but was unable. I wanted to ask you about the tree ring data which led you to say that the recent California drought has been more significant than any in a thousand or two thousand years (I don’t recall exactly). Recently retired after 18 years with the California Department of Water Resources, I installed and maintained over 80 sites with precipitation and snow water equivalent (SWE) systems, data collection platforms, and GOES transmitters from 42˚N to 36.5N. Reviewing our database of hourly precipitation and attending precipitation conferences was part of my job. California’s 2nd worst year of precipitation in the last 100 was 1976: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/PLOT_ESI.pdf I specifically remember a tree ring study presented at a conference in the late 1990s. It may have involved bristlecone pines or sequoladendron gigantem. The briefer said that there was a 60 year period in the 14th century wherein “California’s wettest year was drier than 1976-77”. (Our water year is from October to October.) That would make California’s recent drought pale in comparison…..and it was only 600 years ago. What say you?

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