"It's difficult to understate the significance of this agreement," Dr. Michael E. Mann tells me on today's BradCast. "I think we are witnessing the end of the age of fossil fuels and the beginning of a new age of a clean global energy economy."
Mann, the Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, creator of the infamous "hockey stick graph", and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, was speaking, of course, of the historic U.N. Paris Agreement, where negotiators from some 200 nations unanimously agreed over the weekend to curb the release of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, in hopes of staving off the worst effects of climate change.
The landmark COP21 accord has been some 21 years in the making, if not many more, as explained during today's show. While cautioning that "the devil is in the details" and "reductions that we'll get out of this agreement alone won't be enough to keep us below dangerous levels of warming," Mann says the agreement finally "starts to put us on the path to avoiding dangerous climate change."
But is it too little too late? Is it even possible to keep global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, as called for by the agreement (which also asks nations to keep that rise no higher than 1.5C, if possible)? Mann tells me he believes there is still time to avoid the worst consequences of man's behavior and decades of inaction.
"I can give that answer confidently, as a scientist who studies the numbers. Yes, it is absolutely still physically possible," he says. "What is more in question, of course: is it doable? Is it achievable? And that's a matter of political will. That's really the only limitation."
We discuss those political limitations and much more today, including Mann's op-ed in last week's New York Times slamming Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the U.S. House Science Committee, for his "assault on climate science," as well as Smith's published response to that op-ed. "There's not a truthful word in his statement," Mann retorts.
I also ask the professor about former NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen's assertion that the Paris Agreement is a "fraud" because it fails to include a specific global price on the release of carbon into the atmosphere; about the increasing calls for investigation and prosecution of ExxonMobil for obscuring their own scientists' findings about the "potentially catastrophic" effects of global warming as early as 1977; about that satellite data set cited by Republican climate deniers to suggest that global warming has either paused or doesn't exist at all; and a few more of what I characterize as my own "dumb science questions" about the effects of climate change on weather predictions and El Niño.
As usual, Mann pulls no punches in today's exclusive BradCast interview.
Also today: President Obama's update on the continuing military fight against ISIS and new polling news for both Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates (and the Sanders campaigns' decrying of a network news "Bernie Blackout") in advance of the next GOP Presidential debate on Tuesday...
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