Science, free speech, and the courts
By Alan Caruba
The public, after decades of global warming advocacy, now called "climate change", has begun to conclude that claims of a massive warming trend were dubious and that real climate change is the natural response of the planet to forces well beyond any impact of the human race.
The fact is that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for some 17 years based on lower rates of solar radiation as the Sun undergoes one of its natural cycles, a reduction in the number of sunspots or magnetic storms on its surface.
The May 5th edition of the National Review devotes its cover story to "The Case Against Michael Mann: The Hockey Stick and Free Speech" by Charles C.W. Cooke because the creator of the "hockey stick" graph purporting a massive warming is suing the magazine, commentator Mark Steyn, along with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg. In his suit, filed in the D.C. Superior Court, Mann asserts that "in making the defamatory statement" they acted intentionally, maliciously, willfully, and with the intent to injure Dr. Mann, or to benefit (National Review) and Steyn."
Mann is asserting a "narrow form of libel that American law prohibits" said Cooke. "As a seminal Supreme Court case, New York Times v. Sullivan, outlined in 1964, using the law of libel, to drag journalists into court for expressing their sincere views on matters of major public importance is entirely inconsistent with our ‘national commitment to principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.'"
Mann's feelings are hurt and he believes that any criticism of the questionable science he applied to the creation of his now-famous global warming graph is libel. I believe the court will conclude that using the charge of libel to silence his critics is wrong. That's what makes the case important, in particular for a basic principle of science, and in general for the public understanding that global warming and/or climate change depends on vigorous debate.
Science depends on being able to reproduce the results of an assertion by other scientists. Suffice to say that Mann's graph has been extensively disputed and found lacking in the methods used to produce it.
As Cooke reports, the graph "purports to depict global temperature trends between the years A.D. 1000 and 2000" and takes its name from "a mostly flat line of temperature data from the year 1000 until about 1900 (the handled of the hockey stick), followed by a sharp uptick over the 20th century (the blade)." The graph was published in the 2001 report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since then the IPCC has been retreating from its vehement claim that global warming posed a major threat to life on Earth.
In 2009, the leak of many emails between members of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Center and others engaging in the global warming claims revealed that "Mann and his colleagues have processed their data in a way that makes global warming appear more severe than the evidence suggests on its own." Most damning was Mann's use of tree ring data and the way other data was ignored in order to make his claims about global warming appear to be valid. "The leaked emails suggest that some members of the IPCC were well aware of these inconsistencies—and even may have sought to conceal them," notes Cooke.
Aside from the dubious science cited, the issue before the court is whether publicly questioning Mann can or should be deemed libelous. If it concludes that it is, then the most fundamental principle of science will be destroyed and the courts will fill up with similar cases whose purpose would be to censor and silence the debate that is the life blood of science.
Mann has claimed to have been a Nobel Prize laureate, but Cooke notes that the Nobel Committee "explicitly said that he is not." He has claimed that the National Academy of Sciences and that the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit investigations into his conduct and his work "have fully vindicated him "when they in fact have done no such thing."
Worldwide, people have been subjected to the greatest hoax of the modern era and 17 years of cooling demonstrates that carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas" plays no role in heating the Earth. All of the claims about global warming are demonstrably wrong, along with all of the computer models and other "proof" inaccurate to the point of being purposefully deceptive.
At the heart of the case against the National Review is whether a scientist can silence his critics and one can only hope for the sake of science, free speech, freedom of the press, and the truth that Mann loses.
Editor's note: The testimony of climate scientist Dr. John R. Christy of the University of Alabama before a 2011 U.S. House hearing on climate change addresses how and why Michael Mann and his "hockey stick" became such a prominent part of the IPCC Third Assessment Report in 2011. It is available at: https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/ChristyJR_written_110331_all.pdf
Alan Caruba writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2014