Attacking the messenger is the coal lobby's favorite tactic

In case you haven't been following, Dr. Michael Mann is under attack by the merchants of doubt. Again. As if the manufactured extreme doubt of the odiously named "Climategate" scandal two years ago weren't enough, the climate ostriches have restarted a fullscale character assassination and attempts at blacklisting campaign.

Mann created one of climate sciences most enduring images, "the hockey stick." The image shows the unequivocal correlation between rising annual temperatures and rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It's the best visual out there showing us that humans burning fossil fuels causes climate change. Burning coal, oil, and natural gas releases CO2 into the atmosphere. It's very simple. But the ostriches and the industry-financed doubt mongerers who laughably call themselves skeptics are throwing their money behind propaganda campaigns to silence voices of reason.

One local radio station WBUS has been airing an ad asking listeners to ask Penn State to cancel an upcoming talk by Mann. Who's behind it?

The Common Sense Movement, a coal industry front group with a PAC called Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee (SEAPAC). They have a stock letter-writing campaign that sews doubt where there is a great deal of certainty on climate impacts.
On February 9th, the Penn State Forum Speaker’s Series is featuring
Professor Michael Mann in a speech regarding global warming. This is the same
professor who is at the center of the ‘Climategate’ controversy for
allegedly manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political
views on global warming. Join us in calling on the administrators of Penn State
to end its support of Michael Mann and his radical agenda.
It attacks Mann's credibility, calling him "disgraced." Mann was cleared of all alleged scientific wrongdoing by Penn State and National Academy of Sciences and other investigations. So if by disgraced they mean one of the most decorated climate scientists at Penn State today and one of the most distinguished scientists in the world, I guess that's accurate. Somehow, I suspect they mean something else.

No doubt the laughably named Common Sense Movement is upset because Mann has a new book coming out called The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars that takes the denial machine to task and explains very clearly that climate science shows us we are in a very bad place regarding climate stability. The summary reads:
The Hockey Stick became a central icon in the “climate wars,” and
well-funded science deniers immediately attacked the chart and the scientists
responsible for it. Yet the controversy has had little to do with the depicted
temperature rise and much more with the perceived threat the graph posed to
those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect our
environment and planet. Michael E. Mann, lead author of the original paper in
which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the real story of the science and
politics behind this controversy. He introduces key figures in the oil and
energy industries, and the media front groups who do their bidding in sometimes
slick, bare-knuckled ways to cast doubt on the science. Mann concludes with an
account of the “Climategate” scandal, the 2009 hacking of climate scientists’
emails. Throughout, Mann reveals the role of science deniers, abetted by an
uninformed media, in once again diverting attention away from one of the central
scientific and policy issues of our time.

The worst of the worst are the polluting fossil fuel industries are hellbent on maintaining their grip on government, policy, regulation, and the market. If they leash the other powers that be, then renewables will be delayed and the CEOs of the corporate kleptocracy can keep us leashed.

This is a perfect example of Don Brown's arguments about ethics in climate change messaging. These include:

Lying Or Reckless Disregard For the Truth
Focusing On Unknowns While Ignoring The Knowns.
Specious Claims Of "Bad" Science
Creation of Front Groups
Manufacturing Bogus Climate Science
Think Tank Campaigns
Misleading PR Campaigns
Creation of Astroturf Groups
Cyber-bullying Scientists and Journalists

Lying, specious claims, and cyber-bullying accounted for. Definitely a front group using a misleading PR campaign. It's hogwash from beginning to end. Unethical is the nice way to refer to this kind of bile. I prefer to call it toxic "bullshit" meaning it is both lying and nonsense.

Interestingly, people have been taking the Common Sense Movement to task. They've attempted to hijack the letter-writing campaign. They've gone to the group's Facebook page (which has apparently stopped fans from leaving comments). They've urged WBUS to yank the commercial. Others are calling Penn State President Rodney Erickson and telling them they support Mann.

The blogosphere is up in arms about it too. Andy Revkin and Joe Romm have pieces up.

What is a university if not a place for challenging ideas and practices? By the Common Sense Movement's actions it's a place for corporately controlled speech and the unfettered pollution and bought speech.

Not at my university.

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