This story comes from the staff of The Daily Climate
Michael Mann, an influential climatologist who has spent years in the center of the debate over climate science, has sued two organizations that have accused him of academic fraud and of improperly manipulating data.
Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center, on Monday sued the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with CEI analyst Rand Simberg and National Review reporter Mark Steyn.
The lawsuit, Mann’s lawyer said in a statement, was based upon their “false and defamatory statements” accusing him of academic fraud and comparing him to a convicted child molester, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Neither Mann nor his lawyer, John B. Williams of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Cozen O’Connor, were available for comment Tuesday afternoon. But on Facebook, where news of the lawsuit was initially posted Tuesday, Mann said the lawsuit was part of “a battle” to assist climate scientists in the fight against those who attack their work.
“There is a larger context for this latest development,” he wrote, “namely the onslaught of dishonest and libelous attacks that climate scientists have endured for years by dishonest front groups seeking to discredit the case for concern over climate change.”
But he faces a high bar: Mann has played a key role in climate science for decades, and the law generally requires a much higher burden of proof from public figures, said CEI general counsel Sam Kazman.
“I don’t think he’s got a shot at reaching it,” Kazman said in an interview. “Our stuff may have been debatable, but it was solidly based and we had a perfect right to say what we did.”
“We plan to defend the suit vigorously but we think it is a totally unfounded lawsuit.”
In 1999 Mann published a timeline of global temperatures stretching back almost 1,000 years. The graph showed a fairly stable trend until 1900, when temperatures spiked sharply upward. That so-called “hockey stick” diagram became a lightning rod in the debate on whether humans were influencing the climate.