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.
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.