The Hobart and William Smith Climate Change and Philosophy Colloquium concluded on Monday, Nov. 12 with a talk from Michael E. Mann, a pioneering climate scientist and distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Mann contributed to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
The colloquium, which began last spring, brings international experts to campus to explore not only the intersecting scientific, social, political and ethical concerns that arise from the changing climate, but also how these issues relate to epistemological questions — how we know what we know — about climate change.
Mann, who holds joint appointments in Penn State’s Department of Geosciences and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, delivered his talk “A Return to the Mad House: Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump” in the Vandervort Room in Scandling Campus Center.
The talk, Mann explains, “reviewed the scientific evidence of climate change, the reasons we should care, and the often absurd efforts by special interests and partisan political figures to confuse the public, attack the science and scientists, and deny that a problem even exists. Despite the monumental nature of the challenge we face, particularly in the era of Trump, I explained why I’m cautiously optimistic we will prevail in the greatest battle human civilization has ever faced—the battle to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change impacts.”
Using theoretical models and observational data to offer a better understand Earth’s climate system, Mann’s groundbreaking research reconstructs climate history to prove — notably with the “hockey stick” graph — that climate change is caused by humans. Mann was a lead author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the IPCC Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001, which earned the IPCC the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, shared with former Vice President Al Gore. Mann has also received NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and was selected by Scientific American as one of the 50 leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. A co-founder of the award-winning science website RealClimate.org, Mann is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, numerous op-eds and commentaries, and four books including most recently The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy and The Tantrum that Saved the World.
The Climate Change and Philosophy Colloquium is sponsored through the generosity of Kenneth and Patricia Gaglione P’16.