This month, after nearly two years of legal proceedings, the Virginia Supreme Court halted the attorney general’s investigation of Mr. Mann, who used to teach at the University of Virginia. Twisting a law designed to root out embezzlement of state funds and the like, the attorney general had demanded oceans of documents — including Mr. Mann’s e-mail correspondence — from U-Va. But, along with some technical legal problems with his demand, Mr. Cuccinelli didn’t offer any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Mann had committed anything resembling fraud — even as the attorney general proposed violating scientists’ sacrosanct freedom to conduct research without political pressure. Multiple independent reviews of Mr. Mann’s record have found that the professor did little more than participate in the normal push-and-pull of scientific inquiry.
Mr. Cuccinelli’s inspiration appears to have been the conspiracy theorizing that emerged from the so-called Climategate scandal, in which global-warming opponents stole scientists’ e-mails — including a few of Mr. Mann’s — and then misinterpreted them to justify their activism.
Now that the Supreme Court has shut Mr. Cuccinelli down, what’s left is a range of consequences that can only hurt the commonwealth. The university had to raise nearly $600,000 for legal fees — money the cash-strapped university should have been able to use for something productive. On top of that are the public resources of the attorney general’s office that Mr. Cuccinelli wasted. Scientists in Virginia now have reason to wonder whether they will suffer similar pressure if they publish research government officials don’t like. And, because of some of the Supreme Court’s legal findings, the powers of the attorney general to pursue actual fraud have been clipped.According to the Guardian, Dr. Mann, now at Penn State University, will be publishing a book next month that goes over some of the tactics used against him.
In his book, Mann warns that "public discourse has been polluted now for decades by corporate-funded disinformation – not just with climate change but with a host of health, environmental and societal threats." The implications for the planet are grim, he adds.
Mann became a target of climate deniers' hate because his research revealed there has been a recent increase of almost 1°C across the globe, a rise that was unprecedented "during at least the last 1,000 years" and which has been linked to rising emissions of carbon dioxide from cars, factories and power plants. Many other studies have since supported this finding although climate change deniers still reject his conclusions.Even this blog has seen claims that climate change is not real, notably comments from Dan Pangburn in FollowUp 9. Rather than pretend to be a climate scientist myself, I try to learn from the experts in the field. Reputable scientists are clear in their message. Posted a few days ago, last month there was a TED Talk by James Hansen, another leading climate change scientist, which is worth the eighteen minutes to watch.
1 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
10 October 2011, FollowUp 1.
11 October 2011, FollowUp 2.
17 October 2011, FollowUp 3.
21 October 2011, FollowUp 4.
27 October 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 6.
29 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
15 February 2012, FollowUp 8.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 March 2012, FollowUp 10.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 12.