In 1998, Michael E. Mann and two of his colleagues published the “hockey stick” graph that would revolutionize and galvanize climate activism. It showed the exponential acceleration of global warming since 1900 and that human reliance on carbon-based fuels was making the planet hotter and the climate consequently more unstable. Mann is now a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State and has authored several books, including his latest, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, a finalist for the 2021 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. He joins the podcast to talk about why, after decades of inaction, we’re at an existential crossroads: keep doing nothing and watch the planet warm to levels that create catastrophic climate change, or take the necessary steps right now to decarbonize our economy and end our dependence on fossil fuels.
Listen to this episode to learn:
- How a spate of inactivists and bad actors have deceived, distracted, and delayed meaningful climate action — and that fighting against this PR and messaging campaign is the battleground of our “new climate war”
- Why mainstream messaging that focuses on personal responsibility (i.e., eat less meat, cut back on air travel, lower your carbon footprint) deflects from what’s really causing climate change and the big, systematic changes needed to stop it
- The vital leadership role companies must play in fighting climate change — but why corporate greenwashing initiatives and individual “net zero” commitments, while well-intentioned, are not enough
- How the financial industry has in many ways been more progressive than most governments in taking meaningful action against climate change
- How words like “adaptation” and “resilience” and promises of “technological innovation” are really just forms of distraction and climate inaction
- Why Mann is “cautiously optimistic” about our ability to avoid catastrophic climate change