Michael E. Mann


On his and Tom Toles’ book The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy

Cover Interview of March 28, 2017

In a nutshell

This book is about the single greatest challenge that we face as a civilization, the challenge to tackle the problem of human-caused climate change.  It is about the ongoing campaign, by fossil fuel interests and those who do their bidding, to deny the reality and threat of climate change.  It is about how we get out of this “Madhouse” in which find ourselves.

When we published the book in Fall 2016, prior to the latest presidential election, some of our colleagues criticized us about writing a book about climate change denial. Denial has become irrelevant, they said. Why give it oxygen by writing about it?

Sadly, climate denialism is very much back in vogue in Washington DC now.  A climate change denying president has appointed climate change deniers to key positions in his nascent administration.  If there was any question about it before, there is none anymore.  We are very much back in the Madhouse.

We use brilliant, hard-hitting climate-themed cartoons by my co-author Tom Toles as the scaffolding for telling the story.  The text unpacks, supports and expands on the message of the cartoons.  This book has attitude.

In the book’s eight chapters we cover the basic philosophy of science, the science of climate change, climate change impacts, the campaign to deny climate change and the hypocrisy associated with it, the dangers of so-called “geoengineering” techno-fixes to the problem, and finally, the path forward toward actually solving the problem.  Where appropriate, we name names and call out the bad actors.  The book ends on a note of cautious optimism.

Where our book differs from past books about the climate change topic is that it uses humor, satire, and ridicule — rather than graphs and charts and science-speak — to assess the problem.  By framing the issue in terms humor and satire, we hope to reach folks who haven’t otherwise yet been engaged by the issue.