Michael Mann threatens legal action over Steyn comment

Climategate to be judicially considered?

If this goes the distance, it will certainly be worth following very closely.

Mark Steyn, writing at the National Review (backup WebCite link here), made a number of comments about Michael Mann regarding the Hockey Stick, and Mann has responded with a three-page lawyers’ letter threatening defamation proceedings (see here: page 1, page 2, page 3 – originally published on Mann’s Facebook page, reproduced here for ease of reference).

The interesting point here is that much of the letter focusses on the various investigations into Climategate as evidence that there was no wrongdoing, which inevitably means that if this matter were ever to reach court, not only would the investigations come under close scrutiny, but also the Climategate emails themselves. This would therefore be the first opportunity for an examination of the materials in a proper judicial environment.

Andrew Montford’s report (at the UK GWPF – PDF) into four of those investigations found that to a greater or lesser degree, they were “rushed, cursory and largely unpersuasive”.

In respect of the University of East Anglia investigations, Mann’s letter states that the Oxburgh enquiry (the Scientific Assessment Panel) found:

“No evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit”

and in respect of the second UEA investigation (the Independent Climate Change Email Review), that

“the scientists’ rigour and honesty are not in doubt.”

Montford, on the other hand, claims in respect of the UEA reports that they:

“avoided key questions and failed to probe some of the most serious allegations. Terms of reference were either vague or non-existent. Insufficient consideration in the choice of panel members led to a failure to ensure balance and independence.”

In respect of the UK Parliamentary Inquiry, Mann claims:

“criticisms of the Climatic Research Unit were misplaced and that its actions ‘were in line with common practice in the climate science community’.”

Montford, on the other hand, states:

“The half-day hearing by the Science and Technology Select Committee was curtailed by the impending election. Key allegations were not examined and CRU staff were cleared of some allegations without evidence. The main CRU critics were not invited to give oral evidence and much of their written evidence was not taken into consideration.”

In respect of the Penn State inquiry, Mann states that it found:

“there is no substance to the allegations against Dr Michael E Mann.”

Montford, on the other hand, quotes from an article in The Atlantic (worth reading in full) which looked in detail at the investigation:

“The [Penn State] report…says, in effect, that Mann is a distinguished scholar, a successful raiser of research funding, a man admired by his peers – so any allegation of academic impropriety must be false…

Mann is asked if the allegations (well, one them) are true, and says no. His record is swooned over. Verdict: case dismissed with apologies that Mann has been put to such trouble.”

The other three inquiries cited (by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce and National Science Foundation) all reached similar conclusions. How rigorously were those inquiries carried out? At this stage, we don’t know.

But it’s hardly confidence inspiring. Perhaps the only way we will ever see allegations properly tested will be in front of a court of law, which may, thanks to Mann’s threat, actually happen.

I wonder if this has been fully thought through? Commentators are raising the point that a requirement to produce documents arising from legal proceedings would be far harder to avoid than simple FOI requests, and the disclosure obligations would mean that many more documents may become public as a result. It may also confirm some of the suspicions raised in Montford’s report, namely that the inquiries were superficial at best.

It looks like opening a can of worms…


Michael Mann's cosy chat on ABC's Lateline

Very cosy

UPDATE: Baldrick in the comments reminds ACM of Tony Jones’ hostile and patronising interrogation of Ian Plimer on Lateline in April 2009. What a contrast to the kid gloves employed here with Mann. Biased much, ABC?


Michael “Stick” Mann has a very pleasant, cosy little chat with Emma Alberici (quelle surprise…) on Lateline last night. Mann will no doubt be regarded as a valiant hero to most of the warmist journos at the ABC, so there were no tricky questions, just an easy ride and bags of sympathy for the poor climatologists who are being “intimidated” by filthy deniers:

MICHAEL MANN: the FBI actually came in at my – when I reported to them the fact that I had received a letter, an envelope that had white powder in it. And initially I had assumed the worst, but the FBI sent it off to their lab, they checked it out, it turns out it was a false alarm. Nonetheless, as you allude to, I have been subject to all sorts of personal attacks, threats to my safety, my life, threats to my family, and it’s not just me, it’s dozens of climate scientists in the US, in Australia and many other regions of the world where our findings are finding that climate change is real and potentially poses a threat to civilisation if we don’t confront that challenge. That represents a threat to certain vested interests and they’ve tried hard to discredit the science, often by discrediting and intimidating the scientists. Unfortunately it’s not all that new a tactic. We saw the same thing back in the 1970s, 1980s with tobacco, with the tobacco industry trying to discredit research establishing adverse health impacts of their product. It’s an old tactic and it’s now being used to try to discredit climate science, mainly coming from vested interests who don’t want to see us shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels because they – understandably, they profit greatly from our current addiction to fossil fuels.

EMMA ALBERICI: Who are these vested interest groups? [See, really tough question, eh Emma? Didn’t think to pick up Mann on any of the allegations above – Ed]

MICHAEL MANN: Well I actually talk about this in some detail in the book and I refer to some other books that have been written on this topic that actually trace much of the attacks against climate science and climate scientists to various organisations and front groups that derive most of their funding from the fossil fuel industry and what they often do is issue press releases attacking mainstream science. They publish – they have folks publish op.’ eds attacking climate scientists. They sort of create what some have called an echo chamber of climate change denial that permeates the airwaves and our media and it’s been a real challenge for scientists, for the scientific community to try to communicate the very real nature of the climate change threat in the face of this fairly massive disinformation campaign.

Tobacco, Big Oil. Echo chamber of denial. Mann should find a new scriptwriter. And yet none of this is challenged.

The fact that Exxon gives millions of dollars to Green groups is irrelevant to the ABC. The fact that the alarmist industry funding is three or four orders of magnitude greater than for sceptics is irrelevant to the ABC. The fact that the Hockey Stick was bad science debunked by Steve McIntyre is irrelevant to the ABC. The fact that the Climategate emails show repeated manipulation of data, corruption of peer review, threats to journals that dare publish papers challenging the consensus, and avoiding of FOI requests is irrelevant to the ABC. They were all “taken out of context”, right?

Michael Mann is a key player in The Cause, and here was an opportunity to ask any number of very awkward questions – unfortunately the ABC avoided them all.

Read/watch here.

Desperation: AGW threatens ice hockey (stick?)

No hockey stick visible...

Now there’s an opportunity for a great link with this story – photo of hockey stick (© M Mann), threatened by climate change, geddit? But Sky flunks it.

Oh well, add it to The List. They really are getting desperate:

Man-made climate change is said to be threatening the future of ice hockey in Canada, where the sport is part of the national culture.

Top players have traditionally learned their skills on frozen lakes and backyard rinks.

But as winters get warmer, experts believe aspiring ice hockey stars in years to come will struggle to find suitable outdoor facilities.

Looking ahead, the scientists predicted a complete end to outdoor skating within the next few decades in regions such as British Columbia and Southern Alberta.

Experts believe. Scientists predict. Shit Journalism 101.

Sky News is wearing the cloak of shame for this, both for the appalling story and illustrating it with a photo of a speed skater. Duh.

And by the way, the Hockey Stick isn’t threatened by climate change, it’s threatened, and indeed demolished, by truth and scientific integrity. Just sayin’.

Quotes of the Day: Michael Mann

Quote of the Day

Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann has a new book out, the title of which, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines“, hints at the valiant warrior for truth, battling against the evil enemy (sceptics). As we know, this is standard fare for alarmists, donning the mantle of victimhood at the drop of an FOI request.

But this quote takes the biscuit:

“Perhaps “climategate” was the moment when the climate change denial movement conceded the legitimate debate, choosing instead to double down on smear and disinformation, a tacit acceptance that an honest, science-based case for denying the reality of human-caused climate change and the threat it presents could no longer be made.”

Wow, this guy’s been hanging around with trees for too long. And this as well:

“In any case, there is no evidence that Jones actually deleted any e-mails. Nor is there any evidence of any impropriety in his e-mails.”

And they accuse the sceptics of being delusional… Thanks to Tom Nelson for the quotes.

Mann's "dirty laundry" – first official email release from UVA

Dirty laundry finally being aired in public

If you have been reading the full collection of 5000+ Climategate 1 and 2 emails, not much of this will be new, however, the fact that an organisation has succeeded in obtaining the release of a selection of these emails through an FOI process must bode well for the release of the remainder.

From the press release:

The selected emails include graphic descriptions of the contempt a small circle of largely taxpayer-funded alarmists held for anyone who followed scientific principles and ended up disagreeing with them. For example, in the fifteenth Petitioners’ Exemplar (PE-15), Mann encourages a boycott of one climate journal and a direct appeal to his friends on the editorial board to have one of the journal’s editors fired for accepting papers that were carefully peer-reviewed and recommended for publication on the basis that the papers dispute Mann’s own work. In PE-38, he states that another well respected journal is “being run by the baddies,” calling them “shills for industry.” In PE-39 Mann calls U.S. Congressmen concerned about how he spent taxpayer money “thugs”.

PE-18, 20 & 27 illustrate the typical fashion with which Mann used a UVa email account to accuse co-authors and other respected scientists of incompetence, berating them in emails copied to colleagues living throughout the world. UVA claims this is somehow exempt from VFOIA as scientific research.

In PE-22, Mann alludes to his “dirty laundry” which cannot come out, requesting his correspondent to not pass the email or the data attached to it to anyone else (UVa has claimed no attachments to any emails were preserved on their system). In this email, Mann admits he has failed to follow the most basic tenet of science, to keep a record of exactly what he did in his research, and thus himself could not reproduce his own results.

PE-24 & 25 characterize the efforts of this small group of academics to hide what they are doing and to avoid their work being held up to inspection under the Freedom of Information Act. In PE-26, Mann goes so far as to ask a federal employee — impossibly, as he send it to an email account subject to the federal FOIA — to “treat this email as confidential” though all the email does is complain about a Wall Street Journal author’s efforts to report the science impeaching Mann’s early work. PE-26, like many other emails UVA wishes to keep secret, is subject to release under the federal FOIA.

These emails, if honestly representative of the entire collection, do not make Virginians proud of having paid Mann’s salary.

“ATI, like Greenpeace and its peers, as well as the media, is committed to using transparency laws to make science and government policy open to the citizens who underwrite it, to the exclusion of properly exempt information such as proprietary material,” said Chris Horner, ATI’s Director of Litigation. “Universities are routinely asked to produce emails under FOIA, and most do so quickly. This has recently been proved true at another Virginia university when the media sought emails of a Mann critic. Why UVA wishes to boast of such outlier status within the academic community makes one ask, ‘what is it they are trying to hide?’” (source, where you can also download the emails)

What indeed. It looks increasingly likely that we will eventually find out.

Zombie science: the Hockey Stick lives!

No matter how many times it’s killed off, it keeps coming back from the dead. Now it’s Mann-made sea level rise, to go with Mann-made temperature rise:

Return of “The Stick”

See Watts Up With That? for the full press release.

Penn State whitewash clears Michael Mann

Squeaky clean?

Penn State knows how to look after its own. Avoiding difficult questions and clearing Michael Mann of anything. And this is just the latest in a string of so-called investigations into dodgy practices exposed by Climategate, all of which have, amazingly, found nothing wrong! How’s that for consistency?

The ABC gleefully reports:

American climate change scientist Michael Mann has been cleared of manipulating his research findings.

The allegations arose in the ‘climategate’ scandal which erupted when emails between Dr Mann and other scientists were taken [er, leaked, more likely] from a computer at the University of East Anglia in Britain and posted on the internet.

The Pennsylvania State University findings follow two other investigations in Britain effectively exonerating climate scientists accused of misconduct. [Whitewash, whitewash, whitewash]

Dr Mann’s data adjustment procedures in particular were called into question when private email messages between him other scientists were posted on the internet.

The Pennsylvania university received a number of complaints about its professor’s conduct and it launched two separate investigations in response.

They looked broadly at whether Dr Mann had falsified, suppressed or destroyed data, or deviated from accepted research practices.

In a surprising display of balance, however, the ABC also quotes a view critical of the investigation:

But John Roskam, executive director of the Melbourne-based free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, says questions still remain over Dr Mann’s research.

“This was not an independent review – this was effectively the university examining itself and the result is entirely predictable,” he said.

“The university was highly unlikely to be critical of one of its most high-profile academics who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in research grants.”

Mr Roskam says the four separate ‘climategate’ inquiries – two in Britain and now two in the US – are all compromised.

“The reviews did not answer the questions about why data was missing; why data was not shared; why there hasn’t been a full and open, transparent process,” he said.

“Unfortunately many people still think that these reviews and processes are part of a general lack of transparency about the whole climate change debate.” (source)

And Marc Morano sums up the whole shabby affair:

This is not surprising that Mann’s own university circled the wagons and narrowed the focus of its own investigation to declare him ethical.

‘The fact that the investigation cited Mann’s ‘level of success in proposing research and obtaining funding’ as some sort of proof that he was meeting the ‘highest standards’, tells you that Mann is considered a sacred funding cash cow. At the height of his financial career, similar sentiments could have been said about Bernie Madoff.

Mann has become the posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber. No university whitewash investigation will change that simple reality.’ (source)

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