Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann hides atop the climate change ivory tower

Shortly after climate scientist Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann got word that a panel of his Penn State colleagues had cleared him of misconduct in the so-called “climategate” scandal, Prof. Mann was quoted in the British media as saying he believed that his little graph had gained undue attention.

The “hockey stick” graph, which purports to show a sudden uptick in global temperatures during the industrial age, should not have become a “central icon of the climate change debate”, Mann told the BBC. And yet it did, thanks to its appearance in Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” as well as in the U.N. report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — both of which employ it to advance the theory of anthropogenic [man-made] global warming.

With the pressure of Penn State’s internal ethics investigation removed, it seemed like a good time to ask Mann what he meant by the remark. My attempt to give him an opportunity to explain his comments, however, wound up reinforcing the public perception that climate scientists, like Mann, don’t see their tax-funded grants, or public university employment, as making them accountable to the public. It paints a picture of an ivory tower academic slinging mud on the little people down below, even as the tower sinks into the mire.

After several phone messages went unanswered, I sent him the following email.

Dear Dr. Mann,

I’m sure you have more important things to do than respond to interview requests from reporters. But as a Penn State-trained journalist (’83), I’m hoping you can invest a few minutes with me on the phone to help our readers at DailyCaller.com understand your recent remarks about the “hockey stick” graph. I know it’s hard to convey complex concepts in a culture accustomed to simplistic talking points, but I hope to do justice to your thoughts on this subject.  Can we talk for a few minutes on the phone soon?

Thank You,

Scott Ott

Although previous emails to Mann had elicited nothing but autoresponders — “I cannot provide individual responses to all emails” — this time he wrote back.

hi Scott,

thanks for asking about this. Always happy to talk w/ a former Nittany Lion :)

I actually responded to this in an interview last week: http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/michael-mann-interview-penn-state-final-report/

the specific bit is at the end of the interview:

Mann then included three paragraphs of transcript from the interview he linked to in the email. I told him I would watch the interview and send him any questions.

I reviewed the video of his interview with the “reporter” from Climate Science Watch several times, and read the transcript, which oddly enough diverges from the video periodically. I felt relieved that Mann didn’t get beaned by the softballs from the friendly interrogator. If being probed by his Penn State water cooler colleagues proved stressful, being interviewed by a groupie must have been positively grueling.

But Mann’s interview raised more questions than it answered. So, I wrote back.