Since the first appearance of the famous or infamous "hockey stick" graph 14 years ago, it and its creator Michael Mann have been icons and lightning rods in the climate debate. Because of its empirical specificity, the chart showing a steep rise in global temperatures in the last century seemed to carry more weight with a lot of people than mere theory or computer models. So it is not surprising that the chart and its maker became the target climate change rejectionists most wanted to take down. In the affair of the hacked e-mails at, to and from East Anglia University, Mann's correspondence was especially closely scrutinized, leading to formal investigations.
Then too there is Mann's personality, which is said to be difficult and bristly. "Mann is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with climate science today. He is a hardcore political activist, very thin skinned, does not take criticism well at all, and he surrounds himself within his own little world of supportive warmist activists,” Marc Morano, communications director for Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, told the Yale Alumni Magazine. (The committee, a conservative non-profit in Washington, D.C., describes itself as dedicated to protecting environmental values, while ensuring that people the world over can enjoy the longer, healthier and more productive lives that modern science and technology can bring.)
That's a harsh judgment, but it's nothing compared to what others have called Mann, the Yale magazine reports. A writer for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comparing Mann to Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced football coach at Penn State, where Mann happens to teach, said that "instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science." Morano himself has "called for Mann and other scientists to be publicly flogged. Morano’s former boss, Rush Limbaugh, said they should be drawn and quartered."
That kind of desperate rhetoric can be safely ignored and dismissed. What cannot be ignored are the data accompanying the Yale article showing how Mann's findings have fared in recent years. Best of all is a compact world map charting the world's hottest places in 2012. The hottest in modern history--the century and a half in which thermometer readings have been taken—were most parts of the United States, parts of south and southeastern Europe, and the areas around Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Photo: Greg Grieco