Confronting the Climate Disinformation Campaign at Penn State: Video

Here is the video for the free presentation given on April 30, 2012 on Penn State's University Park Campus. Penn State professors Michael Mann, Donald Brown, Janet Swim and Rick Schuhmann, and graduate student Peter Buckland spoke Monday evening at “Changing the Moral Climate on Climate Change,” a talk that focused on climate change denial. Mann is director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center and part of the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Susannah Barsom, with the university’s Center for Sustainability, moderated the event, which included a question and answer session.


  1. I didn't know before I saw this video to which extent Penn State academic environment function as an asylum for paranoid conspiracy theorists. Very funny!

  2. Conspiracy theories? You must mean pointing out the obvious.

    1. Oh look, some upper middle class white people telling us how evil we all are for not agreeing with them. Never seen that before.

  3. The Earth has been warming and cooling since bacteria started reproducing on this planet. These same conscious of scientists that are NOW saying global warming said it was global cooling in the 70's. This is all a mute point Mans effect on the planet is like two fleas on a dog arguing over who gets to drive.

  4. love it. "Social scientists(in recent years] have turned towards it in a big way"...Yes and as Richard Feynman enjoyed pointing out so frequently...social science is not science.

  5. Orion,
    I can't speak for the others on the panel but I am not an upper middle class white person. Nor did I say you were evil. And if you listened to the Q&A you'd know that Dr. Swim corrected the demographic. Politically conservative educated white males are the most stringent in their denial. They report higher levels of understanding on climate change but tend to have more learned errors than others while also being more confident they are right. That's a problem.

    Earth is warming. More than two dozen lines of evidence show this. Without CO2 forcing, the Earth would not be warming. The Earth should be cooling based on non-CO2-forced natural cycles and it is not. I suggest your read the middle section of Earth: The Operator's Manual or visit Skeptical Science's. Additionally, your point about man's effect on the planet is not like two fleas on a dog arguing about who gets to drive. It isn't a steering contest of an intelligent being. It would be more like a few thousand fleas with motorized shovels digging into the dogs hair, motorized jumping boosters, and electric clippers to cut down the dogs hair and burning it off for heat and changing the dog's skin. When there are too many of them doing it, several of the fleas notice that based on the expansion of these tools, they are endangering their life on the dog which is becoming more difficult to inhabit. In fact, at the bottoms of the legs, it already it is. It's still imperfect but you should get the picture.

    Much of social science including psychology and sociology stands up pretty well. I think discarding social science out of hand is pretty silly. Yours and my ways of determining whether something is real in the world is based on less controlled and rigorous forms of understanding than much of social science. And you'd be hard pressed to not cull through the climate disinformation platform and not conclude that there are several connected groups working in tandem - if not always in total sync - to actively disseminate the kind of anti-reality that Anonymous has peddled above.
    And Richard Feynman may have been a scientist, but he was not the final judge of what science is and how it is done.


    1. SN, I appreciate your effort in promoting your beliefs, but I, and apparently many others, require a little more certainty before we approve the launching of an unknown experiment on the world economy.

      It really is not enough to be told that "97% of the scientists nominated by us and on government payrolls reckon we might be on to something here", when in the pages of IPCC reports we can see they are not really quite so certain:

      Listing some from that page … there seems to be a distinct lack of consensus and understanding:
      Showing consensus ( 3 is lowest) and ‘scientific certainty’ as high, med or low:

      Stratospheric water vapour from CH4: 3 Low
      Stratospheric water vapour from causes other than CH4 oxidation: 3 Very Low
      Direct aerosol: 2 to 3 Medium to Low
      Cloud albedo effect (all aerosols): 3 Low
      Surface albedo (land use): 2 to 3 Medium to Low
      Solar irradiance: 3 Low
      Volcanic aerosol: 3 Low
      Cosmic rays: 3 Very Low
      Other surface effects: 3 Very Low

      Your sort of faith in authority was probably last seen in mediaeval religious times, when 97% priests agreed on what was their version of “the truth”.

    2. Anon,
      Nice of you to sign in.

      You aren't promoting beliefs? Amazing. A non-believing person.

      The science of climate change is quite certain. If you know about the greenhouse effect on a finite planet it's quite plain to see that billions of tons of CO2, CH4, and other gases warm the atmosphere and that H2O will drive these effects...your paltry efforts to disparage them with quote mines notwithstanding.

      If only you knew me. I have a well-developed distrust of authority. If you want to find a corrupt authority on this issue don't look at Mann and the IPCC. Look at the AEI, Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Brothers, and so on. They're the priests trying to gag Galileo, Nice to know....or not know because you're anonymous...that there are plebes out there who know just enough to say incredibly dumb things.

      If you guys had the science, you'd put it out there. But you don't. So you take the authoritarian route and bully people. Talk about a religion.

  6. Thank you very much for posting this incredibly informative and insightful presentation on what is undoubtedly one of the most important (and underestimated) issues of our time. I was fortunate enough to be there in person, and plan on sharing this video with many other people.

    It is unfortunate that these 'anonymous' commentators here weren't there to meet these real people, and to debate these real issues face-to-face in a civil discourse. On the other hand, for those that do watch the entire presentation, you are now able to witness denialism in action here in the comments section, and will hopefully learn to recognize it for what it is (cherry-picking data, stereotyping, denouncing scientists as paranoid lunatics... you get the idea).

  7. So if we all need to live sustainably, shouldn't we abolish big universities that teach non-sustainable information and in non-sustainable ways. Look at Harvard, with an extremely low teacher-student ratio. And Columbia, and many other tier 1 school. We should close them all, and teach everyone to be a farmer (since the average age of a farmer is 62, and for every farmer under 25 years old, there are 5 over 75). We need to reduce farm size, and we can no longer have large corporate farms provide enough food to sustain all these academic Nobel winners who do nothing to sustain themselves and suck energy and resources out of society. The people of Cambridge could bulldoze Harvard and MIT, and turn all the freed up space into community gardens.

  8. Don't think the idea hasn't crossed a lot of people's minds. While not so extreme, the relolocalization movement approaches an idea like that. You'd think that with all the sustainability stuff going on that there might be people calling for an end to mega-universities like Penn State.

  9. Hello, I am glad that I discovered your post regarding sustainability. This is very informative and well presented. Thank you.