Climate Scientist Fights Critics with Comedy

Sep 6, 2016

One of the nation’s top climate scientists and a Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist from the Washington Post are out with a new book.  It takes a satirical look at a serious subject – hoping to sway public opinion with humor.  Sandy Hausman reports on Michael Mann’s first foray into comedy.

When former UVA professor Michael Mann decided on a career in science, he didn’t dream of fame or fortune – and he certainly didn’t expect to be attacked over the question of climate change, but his graph of global warming – the one that looks like a hockey stick – outraged some politicians, like Virginia’s former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.

Now, Mann is fighting back with the help of Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles.  Their new book, the Madhouse Effect, takes a satiric look at those who deny climate change is happening.

“Oddly enough, some of the hardest hitting commentary comes in the form of comedy, whether it’s the Colbert Report, John Oliver, Bill Maher, there are issues that have become so contentious that the only way to really talk about them is to frame them as satire,” he explains.

The book also takes on people who think we can keep burning fossil fuels and adapt to whatever changes are coming. 

“The forces of inaction, fossil fuel interests, the front groups they fund, realizing that outright denial is becoming less and less credible with the public have now gone with a different tack, the idea that maybe it’s real, but we can adapt to it, and hey, maybe there’s a quick techno fix – shooting particle up into the stratosphere, seeding the oceans with iron and a whole array of elaborate schemes,”  Mann says.

In fact, Mann says, proposals to fix climate change could cause even bigger problems. He'll speak on September 15th at 7 in Charlottesville’s City Hall.

Credit NPR

Listen to Sandy Hausman's interview ith Michael Mann here:

  Reserve a spot at Michael Mann's free book talk.