Michael Mann is considered one of the most influential climate scientists in the world today, and he has participated in research showing the sharp rise in global temperatures, since the beginning of the industrial era. The following are excerpts from an interview conducted by the “Guardian” with Mann, during which he spoke about the challenges facing scholars and the war against their endeavors.
What is new in climate war?
■■ For more than two decades, I have been the target of those who deny climate change, the fossil fuel industry groups, and those who advocate for it, including conservative politicians and the media. This was part of a larger effort to discredit climate change science, arguably the most funded, and most organized public relations campaign in history. And now we have finally come to the point where climate change cannot be denied, because people can see it happening in front of their eyes. But the “inactive”, as I call them, did not give up; They simply switched from extreme denial, to a new set of tactics that I describe in my book as the New Climate War.
■ Who is the enemy in the new climate war?
■■ It’s fossil fuel interests, climate change deniers, and conservative media tycoons. And if you had to find one side that represented both the old and the new climate war, it would be Rupert Murdoch. Climate change is an issue that Murdoch press has been concerned about for years. The misinformation was evident last year when they blamed people for intentionally causing the devastating Australian bushfires. While Russia is currently using electronic software, including bots and trolls; To get climate activists to fight each other, sow controversy on social media. Russian trolls have attempted to undermine carbon pricing in Canada and Australia, and Russian fingerprints have been exposed in the Yellow Vest protests in France.
You say that the deniers have retreated, and there are reasons for hope .. What is the difference now?
■■ Without a doubt, this is the best opportunity, in 20 years, since entering the climate business. We have seen complacency in the past. And in 2007, after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with (former US Vice President) Al Gore, there appeared to be a vigil in the media. And it felt like a turning point for many, even though I was very anxious at the time. I knew that the enemy would not surrender, and I expected a renewed climate war. And this is exactly what we’ve seen in the emails leak, trying to tarnish scientists’ image. I am optimistic about a positive shift in political orientation. The youth climate movement has attracted attention and refocused the intergenerational debate. We are witnessing a turning point in public awareness, and that augurs well. Still, there is nothing that can be done to avoid a climate catastrophe.
10 years ago, you and other climate scientists were accused of exaggerating the risks, and now you are accused of underestimating the risks … it sometimes seems like you can’t win.
■■ It’s frustrating to blame scientists. We were told, too, that we had not done well enough to inform us of the risks. People forget that we were fighting the most funded and organized public relations campaign in the history of human civilization.
■ What are the possibilities of political change with Joe Biden in the White House?
■■ Biden has surprised even the climate hawk by being bold in the first 100 days of his agenda, surpassing any previous president, including Barack Obama, when it comes to enforcement action.
– I knew the enemy would not surrender, and I expected a renewed climate war.
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