Michael Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science and Director of Penn’s Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media, has been named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.
The honor, established in 1953, recognizes “a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition.” Previous awardees include Anthony Fauci, Gloria Steinem, and Salman Rushdie.
“Mike is a distinguished scientist committed to truthful, open dialogue about climate change, stemming from his now-iconic hockey stick graph, which showed how significantly humans have affected global temperatures,” says Steven J. Fluharty, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience. “In receiving this honor, he joins many others who have pushed boundaries in the name of improving the world.”
For more than three decades, Mann has studied human-induced climate change. In the late 1990s, he and colleagues mapped temperature changes for the past 1,000 years, determining a dramatic uptick around the year 1900—a jump that aligned with increases in the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases. The finding, which pointed clearly to the part humans were playing in a warming planet, put Mann at the center of the climate change debate, a role he didn’t take lightly.
Today, he’s an outspoken advocate for accurate depictions of climate science in the media, actively debunking misinformation pedaled by climate deniers. His current research involves modeling climate systems to better understand what triggers an ice age to begin and end, how changes in climate are affecting extreme weather, and much more. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, numerous op-eds, and commentaries, as well as five books: Dire Predictions, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, The Madhouse Effect, The Tantrum that Saved the World, and The New Climate War.