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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sullied by National Review, Climatologist Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - A climatologist claims in court that the National Review and another right-wing group defamed him in articles that compared him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky and accused him of academic fraud.

Michael Mann sued National Review and its reporter Mark Steyn, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and its reporter Rand Simberg, in Superior Court.

Mann, of Penn State's Department of Meteorology, claims that his "Hockey Stick" graph demonstrated the radical climate change of the 20th century.

He says that the two right-wing institutions and their reporters made "utterly false and defamatory statements against Dr. Mann - accusing him of academic fraud and comparing him to a convicted child molester, Jerry Sandusky, the disgraced former football coach at Pennsylvania State University."

Mann cites a July 13 article written by Simberg and published in OpenMarket.org, a Competitive Enterprise Institute publication. Under the headline "The Other Scandal in Unhappy Valley," the Simberg and the Institute stated: "'perhaps it's time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we've also learned about his and others' hockey-stick deceptions since. Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet,'" according to the complaint.

Mann says Simberg followed that up by saying, "'Mann has become the posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber. ... We saw what the university administration was willing to do to cover up heinous crimes, and even let them continue, rather than expose them. Should we suppose in light of what we now know, they would do any less to hide academic and scientific misconduct, with so much at stake?'"

Mann published two research papers showing a steady rise in the Earth's surface temperature during the 20th century, and a steep increase in temperatures since the 1950s. He concluded that the recent rise in temperature is unprecedented in the past millennium and correlates with the rise in greenhouse gases. His "Hockey Stick" graph - named for its resemblance to a hockey stick - reflects the steady trend from the medieval period up to the 20th century.

"However, Dr. Mann's research and conclusions have been and continue to be attacked by certain individuals and organizations who do not accept the concept that the Earth is becoming warmer," the complaint states. "This resistance has been characterized not by a serious challenge to the actual science underlying Dr. Mann's conclusions, but rather by invective and personal attacks against Dr. Mann and his integrity - often by those with economic interest and political agendas tied to maintaining the status quo and the current regulatory structure with respect to climate policy."

Mann says the ammunition for the articles was derived from thousands of emails swiped from a computer server at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. He says the messages were taken out of context to imply impropriety on the part of the scientists involved.

"The climate change deniers went on to claim that the CRU emails proved that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists from across the globe and that these scientists were colluding with government officials to somehow reap financial benefits," the complaint states.

Mann says that investigations by Penn State and the EPA found no basis to any of the allegations.

But that didn't stop the claims that climate change was a hoax.

Mann claims the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute published the articles and refuse to apologize, though Competitive Enterprise acknowledged that "at least some of those statements were inappropriate."

Mann sued National Review Inc. and Steyn for a July 15 article on National Review Online, called "Football and Hockey," which "commented on and extensively quoted from Mr. Simberg's piece on Openmarket.org."

That article repeated the "Jerry Sandusky of climate science" sentence, in toto, and then stated that "Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change 'hockey-stick' graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circuit,"' according to the complaint.

Mann seeks punitive damages for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by John Williams, with Cozen O'Connor.

Though Mann claims in his complaint that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his research on global warming, one of the actual 2007 winners recently repudiated that claim.

In 2007, the Norwegian Nobel Committee split the Peace Prize between former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had released its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) that year.

"The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC," the IPCC said in a statement. "Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner. It would be correct to describe a scientist who was involved with AR4 or earlier IPCC reports in this way: 'X contributed to the reports of the IPCC, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize In 2007.'"

Editor's Note: In its original report, Courthouse News reproduced statements from the complaint that characterized Mann as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It put these references in more accurate context on Nov. 20.

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