The Sustainability Agenda

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Exploring today's sustainability questions with leading experts.

Episode 30: UN Climate Week Special: Professor Michael Mann

Episode 30: UN Climate Week Special: Professor Michael Mann

Michael Mann is a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University. A climatologist and geophysicist, he is a leading contributor to the IPCC and is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading climate scientists. His work has been pivotal in advancing our understanding of humanity’s influence on global temperatures, notably through the famous “hockey stick graph” outlining the earth’s temperature over the past millennium.  An outspoken defender of the scientific process and academic freedoms, his work also focuses on climate change denialism, reflected in his most recent book The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy (2016). He is a contributor to numerous publications including The Guardian and the Washington Post and documents the impact of climate change on current events in RealClimate.org.

In this interview, Michael discusses the overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made climate change. He outlines some of the effects a warming planet could have in the future and through reference to recent extreme weather events — how climate change is already being felt in real time. Michael addresses climate change denialism, particularly the influence of “fake news,” and public disinformation campaigns that have helped turn climate science into a politically contentious topic. Michael also provides words of warning regarding geoengineering and stresses the primary need to reduce emissions whilst the carbon budget remains. He ends on a note of cautious optimism, stressing the success of the Paris Agreement, providing a blueprint to curb emissions, and how initiatives at the municipal and state level can help the United States’ commitment to the accord, regardless of the political administration in the US.

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