Mann Power: Court Rules Deniers Have No Right To The Emails Of UVA Climate Scientists

Today a Virginia judge ruled that the University of Virginia (UVA) doesn’t have to release the emails of climate scientists like Michael Mann to the anti-science American Tradition Institute (ATI).

The anti-science crowd knows that they can’t win on the science. Indeed they seem to have written off smart people entirely. But like someone addicted to cigarettes, they have been trying to reproduce the high from the massive Climategate exercise in smoke blowing.

To do that, the deniers need fresh emails to razzle dazzle the gullible so they won’t see the climate change that is all around them.

The good news is that ATI doesn’t get to read climate scientists’ emails. Here is what climatologist Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, wrote on his Facebook page:

Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.

I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.

This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.

How extreme is ATI? Last year they were singled out for criticism by the traditionally staid American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The AAAS Board issued a statement on “Personal Attacks on Climate Scientists”:

We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists. Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public.

The accompanying news release makes clear who the Board was talking about:

The American Tradition Institute (ATI) has asked the University of Virginia to turn over thousands of e-mails and documents written by Michael E. Mann, a former U-Va. professor and a prominent climate scientist. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a climate change skeptic, demanded many of the same documents last year in an effort to determine if Mann had somehow defrauded taxpayers in obtaining research grants. ATI also has sued NASA to disclose records detailing climate scientist James Hansen’s compliance with federal ethics and disclosure rules.

It’s good to see that razzle dazzle doesn’t always trump common sense in the court room.

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17 Responses to Mann Power: Court Rules Deniers Have No Right To The Emails Of UVA Climate Scientists

  1. caerbannog says:

    Sorry for yet another OT post, but PBS needs to be smacked down *hard* for this:

    Hey PBS news-hour — we’ve already got Faux News for this kind of s**t. The last thing I want to see on PBS is a “reporter” lobbing Faux News softballs to Anthony Watts.

  2. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    A small loss for the [deniers].

    They are trying to silence the scientists.
    They are trying to stop the collection of data.
    They are trying to stop democracy.

    Will we let them?

    For they cannot stop nature. We may be reduced to not knowing what is ahead, but it will come.

    Will we get ready before, or will we do triage afterwards?

    Will we abandon the lands that we cannot save or will we abandon the land and the people?

    Will we get alternative food sources ready or will we starve when the crops fail?

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Why would anyone read emails from scientist Michael Mann? He can be judged by his work, his publishings, reports and now read even a book from him. And im sure somebody has access to his emails and can read them. It is quiet obvious that this request only serves to put harras.

    On another note, it is much more worrying if people try to hide emails, when deleting it.

    Bush White House email controversy

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Thank you for editing my reply rather than deleting it. However is there realy a better word than the one I used?

  5. Dano says:

    They may have failed on Plan A, but their Plan B – waste tons of university time and money – worked exceedingly well.



  6. Jack Burton says:

    I have been disappointed to say the least with PBS, NPR and here in Minnesota MPR.
    These public TV and radio stations responded to the right wing attacks on them during the late 90’s and early 00’s by swing hard to the right and giving good voice and coverage to try and appease the radical right and corporate interests.
    On climate science they have lapsed into silence or if forced by radical climate and weather events in saying something, we get the balanced approach.
    Let me point also the the Magazine “Scientific American” in the 1980’s and early 90’s Scientific American stood at the forefront of printing the latest climate science and presenting research and data as it came out. Then all of a sudden the climate science article disappeared from the magazine, and when something was printed on the topic, it was so weak as to be almost outright denial. A few articles appeared but they were very, very questionable. I noted at the same time as the climate science disappeared from their magazine that a large number of oil and coal company adds appeared in their magazine. Obviously this large advertizing commitment meant real money to the Scientific American and I suspect they responded in kind by dropping the bulk of their climate science coverage.
    PBS has become a disgrace and I suspect the same issue with them. Energy company support in the form of grants and also republican political pressure has basically shut them up as to climate change science. At best they are FOX lite.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The destruction of public broadcasting by the psychotic Right, in Australia, the UK and the USA has been a real tragedy. However the true moral debacle has been the swift acquiescence and ready accommodation of the bien pensant ‘liberals’ to this brainwashing. Utterly execrable, and yet they still have the cheek to call themselves ‘journalists’ working in the ‘Free Press’ .

  8. John Mashey says:

    Note that ATI’s David Schnare teaches a course at George Mason U in how to do this. See Appendix A.6.2. he has his own little “public charity” for this, presumably so eh can get funding.
    He is a GMU J.D., like Ken Cuccinelli, his deputy Wesley Russell and Cuccinelli’s ex-law partner Milton Johns, Ed Wegman’s lawyer.

  9. john atcheson says:

    Great news, but I thought Dr. Mann was with Penn State.

  10. J Bowers says:

    “Why would anyone read emails from scientist Michael Mann?”

    “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” — Cardinal Richelieu

  11. Jan says:

    I’m not sure whether this is purely good news, since it could fuel lots of conspiracy stories about the supposed hidden agenda and sinister doings of climate scientists. “The emails scientists continue to hide from you” or the like.

    What better fodder is there for crazy conspiracy theories than undisclosed government documents?

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Ok. That is maybe true. But my point is that the work of a Scientist is judged by his work, from his peers. So if Mann would do bad work he would get bad peer reviews and less / if any publications. Also because Mann is one of the most established capacities in his field and because his work is already under much review there is really nothing here – other then agenda driven campane against a messenger of bad news. What makes his work so outstanding is that it got published over a decade ago and got since replicated, approved by i think any relevant entity.

    The Hockey Stick is the ultimate key data we can abstract from the climate noise, and which shows the human finger print in climate change impact.

  13. As the recent flap about the Lewandowsky study has shown, the denialists insist that they aren’t conspiracy nuts.

    A new battle at the Caudine Forks for the denialists.

  14. Francois T says:

    Whether people like it or not, tackling the organized denial of climate science will soon require a law enforcement approach.


    Well, this is painfully obvious, no? Either climate destabilization IS the greatest potential menace to humankind, or it isn’t!

    Who’s willing to let billions of dollars of special interests paralyze the urgently needed policy making that MUST be created and implemented ASAP?

  15. Andy Lee Robinson says:

    “Climate change” is one thing, but it is worrying that the concept of “Climate Destabilization” is increasing mooted.

    Driving a big “bus” of 7 billion humans too fast in fog is bad enough, but what hope is there when a group of powerful psychopaths keep a brick under the brake pedal, while the media cover the windshield with a blanket?

  16. J Bowers says:

    You’re right, although I personally think the hockey stick is pretty much old news and other predicted observations have verified AGW. But that’s all precisely why the likes of ATI are so desperate to pull a Voltaire. While Mann and Hansen, etc, are highly cited, quote mining opportunities are all ATI and their comrades-in-ideological-cognitive-dissonance have left.

  17. Paul Hoover says:

    This will run its course, the stupid will keep denying until the Cuyahoga is burning and then everyone will jump back on the EPA bandwagon.

    Republicans have guaranteed they will become extinct, the ground work has been laid now nature and time will do its work.

    H.R. 3409

    17 ‘‘(a) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term ‘green18
    house gas’ means any of the following:
    19 ‘‘(1) Water vapor.
    20 ‘‘(2) Carbon dioxide.
    21 ‘‘(3) Methane.
    22 ‘‘(4) Nitrous oxide.
    23 ‘‘(5) Sulfur hexafluoride.
    24 ‘‘(6) Hydrofluorocarbons.
    25 ‘‘(7) Perfluorocarbons.
    •HR 3409 EH
    1 ‘‘(8) Any other substance subject to, or pro2
    posed to be subject to, regulation, action, or consideration under this Act to address climate change.