Cover of 'The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines', by Michael Mann, 2012.

By Lucia Graves, lucia@huffingtonpost.com
31 March 2012

WASHINGTON – It's a Friday afternoon and Michael Mann is at a downtown coffee shop. The climate scientist became famous in 2001 for his "hockey stick" graph that showed 900 years of relatively stable temperatures veering sharply higher in the 20th century. But now, standing in line at a crowded Starbucks at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Penn State professor is decidedly out of the spotlight.

Mann is in town to promote his new book, The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines. While he had a strong turnout at the local bookstore, Politics and Prose, the topic that once made Mann a household name is now conspicuously absent from the national conversation.

President Barack Obama had just embarked on a cross-country energy tour, touting his "all-of-the-above energy strategy" in visits to Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma. But he never once mentioned the single greatest consequence of America's reliance on oil and gas: global warming.

He wasn't the only one curiously silent on the issue.

Newspaper headlines announced the spike in gas prices, and Republicans on the campaign trail praised the merits of drilling. Rachel Maddow invited famous climate denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) onto her show, where he ran through his usual talking points. "I expect that on Fox News," Mann said after his visit to Starbucks, where he ran into HuffPost editorial director Howard Fineman and agreed to an interview.

Mann had no pressing appointments, as Washington whirred with talk of energy policy. So he walked with Fineman back to the HuffPost Washington bureau, where he spent the afternoon drinking beer and explaining how the country's pre-eminent climatologist came to be standing invisibly at a coffee shop next to the White House at a time when his issue is more important than ever.

Mann's temperature graph was cited in the 2001 United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change seminal report, which concluded that "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on the global climate." His research would later make him the target of the infamous "climategate" email scandal of 2009, in which more than 1,000 emails were leaked [Desdemona: the emails were hacked and stolen, not leaked] from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK and used by climate deniers to falsely allege that scientists had manipulated data. "Mann-made global warming," they called it at the time.

Excerpts from HuffPost's conversation with Mann:

The Huffington Post: Obama has been talking about America’s energy future on the campaign trail a lot this past week, yet he never mentions climate change. What do you make of that?

Michael Mann: I thought there was some irony to Obama going to Oklahoma, the state that maybe has been most devastated thus far by the emerging effects of climate change, to present a vision of our energy future that really did seem to ignore climate change. I was disappointed by that frankly. […]

Michael Mann 'Disappointed' In Obama's Global Warming Record

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