We read Michael Mann’s "The New Climate War" so you don’t have to

You don't have to read it, but here is WHY YOU SHOULD

Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and the Director of Earth System Science Center at Penn State. He rose to prominence in 1999 when his co-authored “hockey-stick curve” was published. The graph reconstructs the planet's past temperatures: a long period of minor temperature variations is followed by a relatively rapid warming in the 20th century. The chart even featured in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, a movie that may have played a role in polarizing the American public’s opinion towards climate change.

Mann exposes the tactics of climate change deniers: blaming individuals and creating division

The New Climate War is structured around a series of questions and discussion points. Mann sharply analyses the “powerful Ds: disinformation, delay, despair-mongering, and doomism”.

  • While we should all commit to climate-friendly individual actions, the problem will not be solved without deep systemic change. Climate action requires a transition in global economy, and that necessitates international government action.

  • The human and financial costs of climate catastrophes are on a sharp rise, it is urgent to slow global warming by decarbonising the economy. We could do this by setting higher prices for goods and services with a large carbon footprint or by encouraging low-carbon investments. These strategies would seek to reduce long-term greenhouse gas emissions while achieving consistent energy security and economic development.

  • The central weapon of this new climate war is a campaign to shift culpability for climate change from the big corporations selling fossil fuels to the individuals who use them. Mann certainly makes an interesting point when he says that the “personal carbon footprint” system was promoted by British Petroleum.

  • “Doomism” (believing that a disaster is inevitable) and “inactivists” can lead people down a path of passivity and denial. If they convince us that there is nothing we can do to solve the problem, that it is too late, we are led down that same path of inaction and disengagement.

The book provides a long list of reasons to be hopeful

In response to the “powerful Ds”, Mann advocates for 4 strategies: educate those who will listen, don’t think that it is too late to take action, don’t pay attention to the doomsayers, and get inspired by the youth climate movement.

  • Ecologism should not be a stick with which to beat others with. Dividing climate advocates and getting them fighting with each other about strategy is pointless, it is just blocking policy efforts to incentivize renewable energy and to put a price on carbon. The divide and conquer strategy used by the big corporations has to be turned around.

  • In this sense, the new youth climate movement is louder and more coordinated that its predecessors. In fact, an active youth movement could actually shift the debate from the terrain of short-term economic benefits, to the crucial questions of political power and social injustices, questions which current green recovery debates mostly lack.