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Competitive Enterprise Institute to sue RealClimate blogger over moderation policy

Gavin Schmidt has done a wonderful job at RealClimate patiently explaining the context of the stolen emails. He’s made it perfectly clear that the claims of scientific malpractice are without foundation. He must be doing a really good job, because the Competitive Enterprise Institute intends to sue him.

That’s computer scientist Tim Lambert aka Deltoid explaining (here) the latest tactics the anti-scientific disinformers are pursuing to stifle real climate scientists from communicating with the public. The CEI, of course, runs ad campaigns aimed at destroying the climate for centuries; generally spreads disinformation (see “Santer, Jones, and Schneider respond to CEI’s phony attack on the temperature record”) and embraces the efforts of other groups to sow confusion (see “Deniers go ape for Scopes climate trial”).

But CEI’s current tactics, which they proudly announce here, have become truly extemist in nature:

[CEI seeks documents] relating to the content, importance, or propriety of workday-hour posts or entries by GISS/NASA employee Gavin A. Schmidt on the weblog or “blog” RealClimate, which is owned by the advocacy Environmental Media Services and was started as an effort to defend the debunked “Hockey Stick” that is so central to the CRU files. RealClimate.org is implicated in the leaked files and expressly offered as a tool to be used “in any way you think would be helpful” to a certain advocacy campaign, including an assertion of Schmidt’s active involvement in, e.g., delaying and/or screening out unhelpful input by “skeptics” attempting to comment on claims made on the website.

This, and the related political activism engaged in, are inappropriate behavior for a taxpayer-funded employee, particularly on taxpayer time. These documents were requested in January 2007 and NASA/GISS have refused to date to comply with their legal obligation to produce responsive documents.

Lambert notes:

Yes they’re planning to sue Schmidt for the “inappropriate behavior” of moderating comments at RealClimate. Of course, the point of this vexatious suit isn’t to win — it’s to harass and distract Schmidt because he is being effective.

It’s not for nothing that I dubbed them the Completely Evil Institute.

I would add that essentially every factual assertion in the above excerpt from the piece by CEI Fellow Chris Horner is false.

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The disinformers are obsessed with the Hockey Stick analysis, even though it is just the tiniest piece of our overall understanding of climate science, which is getting increasingly dire by the day (see Climate science statement from the Met Office, NERC and the Royal Society: “even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened”).

The ‘hockey stick’ was, in fact, essentially vindicated by the National Academy of Sciences (see NAS Report and RealClimate.org). And more important than the fact that the original analysis was defensibly correct, is that the conclusions were correct [which could be true even if the analysis had flaws in it]. Is the planet now as hot (or hotter) than it has been in a millenium? Try two millennia (see “Sorry deniers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years”). See also “Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, ‘seminal’ study finds.” That’s why climatologist and one-time darling of the contrarians Ken Caldeira said last month, “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”

RealClimate was not started as an effort to defend the Hockey Stick, but rather to “to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary” on climate science in general (see RC’s About page). As for being “owned by the advocacy Environmental Media Services,” RealClimate explains patiently in its Disclaimer:

The contributors to this site do so in a personal capacity during their spare time and their posts do not represent the views of the organizations for which they work, nor the agencies which fund them. The contributors are solely responsible for the content of the site and receive no remuneration for their contributions.

RealClimate is not affiliated with any environmental organisations. Although our domain is being hosted by Environmental Media Services, and our initial press release was organised for us by Fenton Communications, neither organization was in any way involved in the initial planning for RealClimate, and have never had any editorial or other control over content. Neither Fenton nor EMS has ever paid any contributor to RealClimate.org any money for any purpose at any time. Neither do they pay us expenses, buy our lunch or contract us to do research. This information has always been made clear to anyone who asked.

CEI received over $2 million from ExxonMobil from 1998 to 2005, but that is no doubt purely a coincidence.