There’s No Denying It, Michael Mann: You Are Blind to Any Facts That Interfere with Your Narrative

Published January 11, 2016

Before I offer a reply to Dr. Michael Mann’s January 8 Op-Ed entitled “With Friends Like the Heartland Institute…” (which Heartland President Joe Bast also provided here), I must reveal the awful truth: I serve as a policy advisor to Heartland regarding environmental issues.

I am still awaiting a check from the Koch Brothers, or ExxonMobil, or whomever is supposed to pay me for offering my expertise to Heartland.

So if Dr. Mann has any information on where to send an invoice, I would be most appreciative.

Dr. Mann is clearly committed to labeling folks like me “deniers,” which doesn’t really bother me, so long as everybody is clear about what is being denied.

What do scientists (and I’m just a lowly chemist, not an exalted climatologist or anything) like me deny?

Let us review:

* We do not deny that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It is.

* We do not deny that human activity has introduced and will continue to introduce more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than would otherwise occur. We do.

* We do not deny that the introduction of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere can have an effect on the climate of the planet. It can.

What we do deny is the validity of the following proposition:

“That the magnitude of climate change that has been, and will be, realized as a result of carbon dioxide emissions generated by the United States justifies additional measures to further reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions in our country.”

Please note there are only four words in that proposition that remotely require the expertise of a climatologist: “magnitude of climate change.” The rest of that statement involves matters of policy that I would suggest Dr. Mann is neither qualified to understand nor sufficiently unbiased to comment upon.

For if Dr. Mann and his supporters wanted to reduce the emissions of the gases they say are so endangering our very future, why on earth do they spend so much time hectoring and demonizing the nation that has made — and will continue to make — such dramatic reductions of GHG emissions? Wouldn’t you think they’d focus every bit of their efforts on finding ways to reduce emissions among the big emitters who continue to get bigger?

In that vein, one cannot help but wonder what Dr. Mann would deny:

* Would he deny that the dramatic downward trend in United States GHG emissions that started in 2008 and continues to this day?

* Would he deny that – thanks to coal-killing regulations, Renewable Portfolio Standards and other regulatory initiatives – that trend will continue?

* Would he deny that tens of thousands of megawatts of coal-fired capacity are set to retire over the next decade, further reducing GHG emissions nationwide?

* Would he deny that the United States could reduce its GHG emissions to zero and world-wide GHG concentrations would continue to increase if China and India continue to increase their GHG emissions at current rates?

One suspects he would cling to the fiction that China is banking its future on solar and wind, no matter all the evidence that they are doubling down on their fossil fuel investments. When an academic with an inflated sense of self-importance is determined to demonize the nation that provided him or her the freedom and opportunity to behave like a boor, he or she is sure to be blind to any facts that interfere with that narrative.

And that, my friends, cannot be denied.