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'Climate Science Is A Full Contact Sport. I Never Signed Up For This'

Who are the climate scientists? How are they coping? Our podcast series 'Breaking The Ice' starts this week.

22/05/2017 11:44 AM AEST | Updated 24/05/2017 11:05 AM AEST
HuffPost Australia

They're at the red hot molten core of the most heated debate in the world today.

Their work underpins so much of the news we read. So much of the public policy our elected officials put into place -- or don't. So much debate. So much everything.

But who are the climate scientists? Who actually are these people? And how are they coping with researching the most controversial issue in the world today?

Breaking The Ice is a new podcast series about the people behind the science. We talk about their work. About their lives. About WHO they are.

You'll meet wildly different characters in this series. One scientist was out on the ice in Greenland watching "Caveman TV" (chunks of glacier breaking off) when we spoke to him. Another hangs out in pubs arguing with people who don't accept climate change science.

Some of the scientists in this series are big names, others virtually anonymous. But to kick things off, we thought we'd speak to one of the most famous climate scientists of all.

His name is Professor Michael E. Mann, and he's best known for the infamous "Hockey Stick Graph".

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Some scientists are reticent to face the heat. Not this fella.

"Science has become a full contact sport," Mann admits in the first few seconds of Episode One of Breaking The Ice.

"It's not what I signed up for. Little did I realise that I was putting myself on a trajectory that would take me to the very centre of the most contentious debate we've ever had societally.

"But ultimately I've embraced that role because it's given me a great opportunity to inform this discussion about what may be the greatest threat we've ever faced as a civilisation. I feel honoured to be in a position to do that."

In disaster movies, people who try to save the world are generally pretty popular people. For Michael Mann, life has at times been more like a horror movie.

He has been likened to holocaust deniers and child molesters. He and his family have been sent suspicious packages, and even received death threats. The attorney general of a U.S. state tried to strip his academic credentials.

"I have no regrets," Mann explains in Breaking The Ice.

"At school I wasn't big but I didn't suffer bullies, and I fought back even when I knew I was going to lose. I think I've carried that over to adulthood. I'm always willing to fight the good fight if I think that's what's necessary."

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You'll meet glaciologist Jason Box and learn about Greenlandic whiskey in an upcoming episode.

Not all of the scientists you'll meet in Breaking The Ice are as feisty or as relentlessly upbeat as Michael Mann. In fact, some of these men and women have been knocked around on a psychological level by people who have called them frauds.

What unites them all is that they have a story to tell. A story which goes beyond their science. We're excited to be breaking the ice and sharing those stories for the first time.

Click below to subscribe to the Breaking The Ice podcast by HuffPost Australia on iTunes.

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