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Mann disputes climate change deniers with cartoons

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Michael Mann. Photo via Penn State University.

“The fate of the planet really does lie in the balance,” Mann said. “You only get one chance to try this experiment because there is no planet B.”

Michael Mann, a Nobel Laureate and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, urged Athens community members to speak out about climate change last Wednesday.

At the event, which took place in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, Mann used humor and cartoons to illustrate his point.

“The fate of the planet really does lie in the balance,” Mann said at the heavily attended event. “You only get one chance to try this experiment because there is no planet B.”

Politicians are at the center of climate change denial and if citizens want to change the direction of policy, vote, Mann said.

“We need to hear everyone’s voices,” he said. “We have to fight for the objective role of science in policy making.”

Mann joked about President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The threat would make the U.S. one of the only countries on the planet to not sign the agreement, according to Mann.

“Apparently pulling out has been a problem for Trump,” Mann said

The Paris agreement aims to keep this century’s global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and improve countries’ ability to deal with climate change, according to the United Nations.

“Paris gets us halfway; it gets us on the path,” Mann said. “We can see a path forward.”

Mann said that pathway needs to be built upon to improve the situation. But with politicians “who don’t believe the science in front of them,” as an 11-year-old boy said in the Q&A portion of the event, we may continue to face the threat of climate change, Mann said.

“2014 was the warmest year for the globe, until 2015 was the warmest year for the globe, until 2016 was the warmest year for the globe, but likely 2017 wasn’t the warmest year for the globe; it was the second warmest,” he said.

Denial fallacies add to the lack of legislation of preventative measures, he said. Common arguments Mann pointed out included “it’s natural,” “it’s self correcting,” “it’s too late anyways” and “it’s good.”

“As long as there are fossil fuels to burn, there will be people trying to deny it,” he said.

Mann referenced Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who said humans have “flourished” during global warming in an interview with a Las Vegas TV station.

However, Mann said there is hope.

“I think we are seeing climate change denial in its final stages,” he said.

The event marked Mann’s sixth visit to Ohio in the last few months. Mann said he appreciates that Ohioans recognize the power their swing state holds. In an interview with The New Political, he said he was “delighted to accept the invitation” to speak at Ohio U.

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