Michael E. Mann is an atmospheric science professor at Penn State University, a climate catastrophe advocate, and a militant campaigner against scientists who disagree with him. He is most famous as the creator of the discredited and controversial “hockey stick graph,” which has been discredited by statisticians for distorting past climate history and offering outlandish predictions of future carbon-dioxide-induced global warming.
Mann is the author of the books Dire predictions: understanding global warming (2008) and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (2012), which have been described as self-aggrandizing scare tomes. He is a member of the Council of Advisers of the Climate Accountability Institute, which held the Planning Workshop that guided the state attorneys general “AGs United for Clean Power” to prosecute climate skeptics.
Mann is also a direct collaborator with the RICO20 professors, who along with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), have called for prosecution of all climate skeptics. Mann’s arrogant, intolerant and vengeful attitudes — as reflected in his writings and even his Twitter feed — have caused even colleagues to be wary of him, and spurred the targets of his attacks to redouble their efforts. In a June 2016 speech, Mann tried to convince the Democratic Party Platform drafting committee that Democrats must act urgently to enforce his alarmist agenda before the “right wing denial machine” distorts his message.
Mann was born in 1965 and brought up in Amherst, Massachusetts, where his father was a professor of mathematics at the University of Massachusetts. At school he showed early interest in math, science, and computing. When he reached college age, Mann selected the University of California, Berkeley, where he took a double major, graduating with honors in 1989 with an A.B. in applied mathematics and physics. Mann then attended Yale University, intending to obtain a PhD in physics, and received both an MS and an MPhil in physics in 1991.
While still finishing his PhD research, Mann met University of Massachusetts climate science professor Raymond S. Bradley and began research in collaboration with him and seismologist Jeffrey Park, which was to lead him to the Hockey Stick and public notice. Mann was granted his PhD in geology and geophysics from Yale in 1998.
Mann is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. As a professor at Penn State, Mann is known for encouraging his students to be policy advocates with an agenda, or as he puts it, to “see public participation as part of their roles as scientists.”
Mann’s many research grants, publications, invited lectures, and other experiences are completely listed in his curriculum vitae. Mann’s highly detailed 79 page Curriculum Vitae is posted here.
Mann’s Penn State salary and benefits are over $200,000 annually with his income fattened by speeches he gives for up to $10,000 according to reports, but he has not attracted a benefactor to support an Endowed Chair, unlike peers such as former Environmental Defense Fund climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who holds a multi-million-dollar endowed professorship at Princeton University.
Mann’s career began as a minor new PhD co-investigator in the National Science Foundation research that produced 1999’s highly controversial “Hockey Stick graph” (Mann is ubiquitously and erroneously identified as the lead investigator, who was actually Robert Bradley of the University of Massachusetts.)
The NSF research grant was specifically biased to only seek evidence for man-made climate change — rather than investigate whether or how much mankind had caused climate change. The one-sided research purported to find a historical record beginning with low atmospheric temperatures in 1000 AD, and ending with a sudden increase in recent times to allegedly “unprecedented” levels. The blame went to human greenhouse gas emissions, reinforcing the already roiling dispute about man-made global warming.
By 2001 Mann had cemented his alarmist reputation as lead author of the chapter on Observed Climate Variability and Change in the Third Scientific Assessment Report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC Report used his “hockey stick graph” as its logo and it became a symbol of the emerging controversy between climate change skeptics and believers.
Mann’s Hockey Stick research was questioned by statistical analyst Steve McIntyre and environmental economist Ross McKitrick for minimizing or removing the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age from the historical record, among other peculiar data treatments. The challenge prompted wide publicity and a US congressional inquiry and report debunking Mann’s findings.
In defense, Mann and several alarmist colleagues created their own vanity website, Real Climate, to attack their critics. This scientific confrontation brought Mann more government grants to find human causes for climate change, placing him in the spotlight of the developing debate on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). His growing prominence gained him colleagues in the United Kingdom’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, and elevated him into something of a celebrity with a notoriously short temper with intolerance for differing opinions.
Mann’s career has been characterized as one of abrasive relationships with colleagues as well as challengers. Marc Morano, creator of the Climate Depot website and the documentary film Climate Hustle, has researched and reported on Michael Mann for years. Morano said:
Mann is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with climate science today. He is a hardcore political activist, very thin skinned, does not take criticism well at all, and he surrounds himself within his own little world of supportive warmist activists. Even the scientists in Mann’s “own little world” resented his knee-jerk reactions to criticism from other scientists, as made clear in this Climategate email from a colleague who sent it anonymously to a list of trusted scientists:
Mann’s demands that everyone obey his wishes received a blunt reply from British colleague Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia:
Critiques of Mann’s work began to appear in peer reviewed journals, which prompted him to lead all-out attacks against not only the critical scientists, but also the journals, their peer panels and their editors to silence disagreement and eradicate disagreement with his preferred public policy.
Tactics included gaining control of science journals and libel lawsuits against scientific critics. Mann and colleagues from the IPCC science team became the featured players in the 2009 “ClimateGate” scandal over leaked emails that revealed their cunning tactics to destroy the careers and publications of perceived opponents.
Mann’s Hockey Stick research was investigated by Penn State University, for which Mann was a valuable cash cow in federal grants, and by the National Science Foundation, which could count on Mann for politically correct research results. He was found to have done no technical wrong, beyond using sloppy word choices. These investigators turned a blind eye to his role in collaborating to damage or destroy skeptic publications and scientists, but the British government investigators found faults they deemed serious, including information that may have been deleted to avoid disclosure.
As of July 2014, Mann appears as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) on the organization’s website. His affiliation connects him directly with the organized efforts to prosecute climate skeptics via RICO statutes, which got its start with Naomi Oreskes, co-founder of CAI.
RICO, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization, is a law designed to battle organized crime, but was later used in civil cases, particularly against tobacco companies that were subject to billion-dollar lawsuits to compensate for the health problems of their customers. Oreskes conflated tobacco with fossil fuels, seeking to enforce penalties sufficient to destroy the fossil fuel industry through prosecution of both producers and advocates, particularly climate skeptics.
Mann’s affiliation with this effort indicates his dedication to prosecute “deniers.” (The environmental left has chosen this term specifically to equate those skeptical of catastrophic man-caused global warming to Holocaust deniers. Mann refuses to use the term “skeptic.” ) Mann’s allegiance to prosecution for skeptics is symbolized by his advisory status with the CAI, and his close ties to its allied group, the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The RICO20 refers to 20 scientists — including professors from nine universities and scientists from two institutes — who signed a letter known as the RICO 20 letter, sent to the U.S. Attorney General and the President of the United States on September 1, 2015. It called for a federal criminal investigation into possible “racketeering” and collaboration among entities questioning the science backing the hypotheses of human-caused, catastrophic climate change.
The leader of the effort, George Mason University professor Jagadish Shukla, also operated a now-defunct and controversial nonprofit climate group, the Institute of Global Environment and Society, which was almost totally funded by millions in federal grants. Shukla said he got the idea to make a splash in academia by gathering many professors who would support Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s public call for prosecution of climate skeptics using RICO in an op-ed in the March 29, 2015 Washington Post titled “The Fossil-fuel Industry’s Campaign to Mislead the American People.”
Shukla’s recruitment of academics stalled when a result some feared — angry backlash from skeptics and the media — quickly appeared. Shukla and the scientists were reassured by Sen. Whitehouse, as discovered in emails of the conspiracy obtained by FOIA lawsuits. The scientists sought help in dealing with the blowback, and Michael Mann provided it. He introduced Shukla to two veteran activists — one from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and the other from ClimateNexus — requesting their help and guidance for the RICO20. Mann’s affiliation with the Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) linked him with UCS, which had helped form CAI and co-hosted the attack workshop in LaJolla, California in 2012. His cordial introduction of Shukla to his UCS friend is revealing:
The Climategate scandal erupted on November 19, 2009, when a collection of email messages, data files and data processing programs were leaked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The emails revealed scientific fraud and data manipulation by scientists bent on maintaining belief in the hypothesis of catastrophic man-caused global warming despite data revealing its flaws.
A person who calls himself “Mr. FOIA” is recognized as the insider who leaked the emails. On three occasions — in 2009, 2011, and 2013 — “Mr. FOIA” copied thousands of emails and computer files to various internet locations. Mann was the key U.S. player in the Climategate scandal, according to John Costella, who edited and annotated a 2010 report titled “The Climategate Emails.” Costella wrote:
Mike Mann leapt from relative obscurity to international fame with his “hockey stick”, a graph of global temperatures from 1000 AD to the present, which was the showpiece at the launching of the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report in Shanghai in January 2001. The hockey stick became a corporate logo for the IPCC, but because it rubbed out the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age from the historical record, it was subjected to a US congressional inquiry. Eventually it was shown that random data fed into the algorithms used by Mann to produce his hockey stick from bristle cone pine tree ring data, also yielded hockey stick results.
Costella also wrote: “The Climategate emails show us how a small cabal of climate scientists, based at the University of East Anglia and at Penn State University, were able to control the temperature record fed into the critical Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and which comprised the foundation on which the whole global warming structure was based.” Costella concluded “that this was a real conspiracy is beyond argument. The word ‘conspiracy’ is used by the players themselves. In any conspiracy there is a tight inner core and then successive rings of collaborators, who accept the leadership of the central core.”
Mann defends himself by saying Penn State looked into the e-mails and decided that he had not suppressed data at any time. However, an inquiry conducted by the British parliament came to a different conclusion. “The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure,” the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee announced in its findings.
The following individuals comprise the key players in the Climategate scandal, according to Costella:
The emails reveal scientists producing the desired result by any means necessary. [NOTE: Links go to a publicly available archive of the unedited 2009 Climategate emails.]
In 2012, Mann sued National Review, columnist Mark Steyn, Rand Simberg and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation because they wrote critically about his famous hockey stick graph. The suit centered on two separate blog posts by Mann and Simberg that compared what they considered a whitewash investigation by Penn State of Mann’s involvement in the Climategate scandal to the way the university ignored decades of serial child molestation by former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Steyn wrote, in part:
If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
As the case continued to drag on, Steyn separated himself from his fellow defendants — who were attempting to get the case struck down on anti-SLAPP grounds — and countersued Mann for the purposes of getting him on the stand to defend the science he employed to create the hockey stick graph. Steyn contends Mann and the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia are dragging their feet on the case, even noting in June 2016 that one of his potential key witnesses died while waiting the nearly two years for the case to move forward. From the Daily Caller:
“Steyn’s expert witnesses are older than Mann’s; time affects them more,” Steyn’s lawyers wrote in their filing. “Many of Steyn’s expert witnesses are emeritus professors and comparatively advanced in years, being of an age and eminence that enables them to stand against the bullying and intimidation that prevails in climate science. Indeed, one of Steyn’s proposed witnesses has, in fact, died while this interlocutory appeal has been with the appellate court.”
While he has waited, Steyn wrote a book titled A Disgrace to the Profession, which is largely comprised of quotes from scientists around the world who have criticized Mann’s hockey stick graph and the effect of alarmism on the field of climate science.
Steyn and his attorneys consider this an important First Amendment case, protecting the right of citizens to criticize climate alarmists and their scientific claims — especially if they work at public institutions.