I am not the only person to find a sharp description of our unfortunate political and cultural situation in W.B. Yeats dark meditation on the aftermath of World War I: The Second Coming.
Many remember that poem for the hair-raising question that comes at its end, “. . . what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
However, the poem also famously states: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
It is hard to imagine a more accurate statement of the problem around the climate debate where denial is often presented with powerful zeal and, too often, truth is presented in a tentative manner.
However, fortunately, sometimes the tellers of truth show powerful courage. Doctor Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist, is one of those who has refused to temper his message and bow in the face of those who denounce him for clearly and powerfully presenting the results of his research. He tells the story of his life, his research, the attacks upon him and the lessons he has learned from these experiences in a deeply readable book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”
His book is required reading for all those who want to understand climate science – as well as those who want an inside view of a critical political and cultural debate between sound science and ideologically driven denial.
In the short term this remarkable book presents a happy ending as Dr. Mann is able to continue with his work and survive scurrilous attack. However, like a monster movie that ends with a moment of peace that fades into ominous music and a hint of the horrible threat just waiting to burst on the scene, the book ends with a question: Will humanity listen to the message of science and avert the catastrophe of a warming and disrupted planet?