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Michael E. Mann on “George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight”

George Stroumboulopoulos (left) and Michael E. Mann (right).  Photo: CBC.

George Stroumboulopoulos (left) and Michael E. Mann (right). Photo: CBC.

Last week, Climatologist Micheal E. Mann sat down with CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos (good luck pronouncing that!) to talk about his new book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, which looks at the politics and the science of climate change.

(For those who don’t know him, “Strombo” is an excellent television host (my opinion) as well an important Canadian figure in the fight against climate change.)

Professor Mann is one of the scientists behind the famous “hockey stick graph” which plots temperatures using various “proxies”, such as tree rings and ice cores, back to the year 1000.  The graph shows a steady decline of temperature over time (the shaft of the stick) until the early 1900s when temperatures increase sharply (the blade of the stick).

The "hockey stick" graph.  Image:

The "hockey stick" graph. Image:

(The web site Skeptical Science does a good job of describing, in more detail, the facts and controversy behind Professor Mann’s graph.  Click here to take a look.)

The graph became a prominent part of the IPCC’s 2001 Third Assessment Report since it supported the argument that temperatures had risen sharply in the 20th century.  Unfortunately, the hockey stick graph, as well as Mann himself, quickly became the targets of people opposed to anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.  You may recall “ClimateGate”, the hysteria around stolen e-mails (including Mann’s) which allegedly contained “proof” that scientists were falsifying data.  This effort to discredit Mann and other climatologists resulted in eight independent studies which cleared all the scientists of any fraud or misconduct.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped opponents of anthropogenic climate change from talking about it.

(If you’d like to read a good summary of the ClimateGate story, you can read the BBC story ClimateGate affair: ‘Learn and move on’, say MPs (thanks Martin!))

Getting back to the interview…

Of particular interest to Canadians is the discussion (near the end of the video) about how our federal government is limiting media access to government scientists.  These scientists, who in the past could speak openly about their work to the media, now have to get approval from their minister in order to speak to a reporter.  The delays which this causes (from days to weeks) has led to the effective muzzling of our scientists – a reporter working on a story usually wants information NOW, not in two week’s time.  That means that Canadians are not hearing what government scientists know about important issues such as the health of our salmon population and climate change.  What we hear is what the Government wants us to hear.

If you’d like to watch the interview (9 minutes long), the link below will take you to the video.  (Sorry, I can’t embed it…)

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: Michael E. Mann Interview

One Comment leave one →
  1. 2012/04/06 3:46 pm

    These scientists, which in the past could speak openly about their work to the media, now have to get approval from their minister in order to speak to a reporter.

    Bloody hell.

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