Obviously US federal spending is under a lot of pressure given budgetary problems. In the course of cutting curtailing federal spending, there will be great pressure to curtail even the most worthy programs, such as NOAA’s sponsorship of the display Pillars of Climate at the recent American Meteorological Society’s Applied Climatology and Climate Change Adaptation conference in Asheville. Other sponsors are the University of North Carolina, NOAA, ARC, ArtPLex Solutions and Monotour Productions. The Pillars of Climate is described as follows:
“Pillars of Climate” is an installation that investigates the issues of perception and dissemination of data in climate change. The sculpture invites the audience to go beyond ‘face value’ and inspect more closely the integration of humanity, nature and fossil fuels.
Pillars of Climate depicts four scientists, described in the accompanying legend as follows:
The four scientists depicted in the piece were chosen for their unique carreers [sic], which blend science, communication and activism in climate science. They represent the forward thinking that gives raw data meaning in everyday life.
The intersection of science, activism and now art is meant to highlight the recent shift towards making scientific data visible, accessible and meaningful to everyone.
The accompanying legend to the display is shown below:
The first Pillar of Climate was Vandana Shiva. According to Wikipedia, she is the author of the book Vedic Ecology, which draws upon India’s Vedic heritage, is a “figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement” and is presently “working on a 3 year project with the Government of Bhutan, at the invitation of the Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, advising the Government on how to achieve their objective of becoming an Organic Sovereign country (the first fully 100% organic country)”. Surely no Climate Audit reader will contest her qualification as a NOAA Pillar of Climate.
The second Pillar of Climate was Wangari Maathai from Kenya about whom Wikipedia says:
[she] founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.
Again, I doubt that any Climate Audit reader will contest her qualification as a NOAA Pillar of Climate.
The third Pillar of Climate may be more controversial. R.K. Pachauri, author of the romance novel, Return to Almora. Wikipedia describes the novel as “reminiscences of a retired bureaucrat, once an engineering student, about his spiritual and sexual past”. While Pachauri’s qualification as a NOAA Pillar of Climate might have been argued about as late as December 2009, I think that the publication of Return to Almora resolved matters decisively in his favor and he is as worthy a Pillar of Climate as his fellow honorees, Shiva and Maathai.
The fourth and final NOAA Pillar of Climate is Michael Mann, described as follows:
He is best known as the lead author of a number of articles on paleoclimatology and one of the originators of a graph of temperature trends called the hockey stick graph because of its shape. The graph was highlighted in an IPCC report receiving both praise and critics, and has been the subject of a long-running controversy. Mann is also known as a founding member of the Real Climate blog, to which he and a number of other scientists contribute.
I realize that some readers may argue against Mann’s inclusion in this galaxy of Pillars. However, I urge such readers to think long and hard about the connections between the Mann hockey stick and Vedic ecology – a scandalously under-researched topic. Let’s hope that this display leads to renaissance of research in this area.
The juxtaposition of Mann with a Kenyan Pillar also reminds us of Mann’s deep and profound connection with Kenya, where Mann combated the transfer of resources from the Third World to Europe and the US – a transfer that is all too characteristic of the globalization decried by Pillar Vandana Shiva – by re-locating Spanish precipitation to Kenya in Mann et al 2008.
The testimonial to Pillar of Climate Mann also shamefully ignored his important contribution to the alter-globalization movement through his development of novel statistical methods that enabled the use of bristlecone tree ring chronologies and upside down Kortajarvi sediments to reconstruct world temperature – alter-globalization at its best.
While the testimonial to Mann properly recognizes Real Climate as a scientific authority of equivalent stature to Pillars of Climate Vandana and Maathai, the testimonial can only be regarded as a first step towards the recognition of RealClimate. NOAA should immediately commission Pillars of Climate II, a similar display recognizing the accomplishments of Gavin Schmidt, Rasmus Benestad, Eric Steig and the rest of the Real Climate gang.
Let’s all hope that reason prevails in Washington and this worthy program is preserved.
With this many Pillars, the next step surely must be the establishment of a Climate Parthenon, where the Pillars of Climate can be properly honored. (White marble, of course, for albedo.)