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Science, Free Speech, and the Courts

By Alan Caruba

 

The public, after decades of global warming advocacy, now called “climate change”, has begun to conclude that claims of a massive warming trend were dubious and that real climate change is the natural response of the planet to forces well beyond any impact of the human race.

 

The fact is that the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for some 17 years based on lower rates of solar radiation as the Sun undergoes one of its natural cycles, a reduction in the number of sunspots or magnetic storms on its surface.

 

The May 5th edition of the National Review devotes its cover story to “The Case Against Michael Mann: The Hockey Stick and Free Speech” by Charles C.W. Cooke because the creator of the “hockey stick” graph purporting a massive warming is suing the magazine, commentator Mark Steyn, along with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Rand Simberg. In his suit, filed in the D.C. Superior Court, Mann asserts that “in making the defamatory statement” they acted intentionally, maliciously, willfully, and with the intent to injure Dr. Mann, or to benefit (National Review) and Steyn.”

 

Mann is asserting a “narrow form of libel that American law prohibits” said Cooke. “As a seminal Supreme Court case, New York Times v. Sullivan, outlined in 1964, using the law of libel, to drag journalists into court for expressing their sincere views on matters of major public importance is entirely inconsistent with our ‘national commitment to principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.’”

 

Mann’s feelings are hurt and he believes that any criticism of the questionable science he applied to the creation of his now-famous global warming graph is libel. I believe the court will conclude that using the charge of libel to silence his critics is wrong. That’s what makes the case important, in particular for a basic principle of science, and in general for the public understanding that global warming and/or climate change depends on vigorous debate.

 

Science depends on being able to reproduce the results of an assertion by other scientists. Suffice to say that Mann’s graph has been extensively disputed and found lacking in the methods used to produce it.

 

As Cooke reports, the graph “purports to depict global temperature trends between the years A.D. 1000 and 2000” and takes its name from “a mostly flat line of temperature data from the year 1000 until about 1900 (the handled of the hockey stick), followed by a sharp uptick over the 20th century (the blade).” The graph was published in the 2001 report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since then the IPCC has been retreating from its vehement claim that global warming posed a major threat to life on Earth.

 

In 2009, the leak of many emails between members of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Center and others engaging in the global warming claims revealed that “Mann and his colleagues have processed their data in a way that makes global warming appear more severe than the evidence suggests on its own.” Most damning was Mann’s use of tree ring data and the way other data was ignored in order to make his claims about global warming appear to be valid. “The leaked emails suggest that some members of the IPCC were well aware of these inconsistencies—and even may have sought to conceal them,” notes Cooke.

 

Aside from the dubious science cited, the issue before the court is whether publicly questioning Mann can or should be deemed libelous. If it concludes that it is, then the most fundamental principle of science will be destroyed and the courts will fill up with similar cases whose purpose would be to censor and silence the debate that is the life blood of science.

 

Mann has claimed to have been a Nobel Prize laureate, but Cooke notes that the Nobel Committee “explicitly said that he is not.” He has claimed that the National Academy of Sciences and that the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit investigations into his conduct and his work “have fully vindicated him “when they in fact have done no such thing.”

 

Worldwide, people have been subjected to the greatest hoax of the modern era and 17 years of cooling demonstrates that carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas” plays no role in heating the Earth. All of the claims about global warming are demonstrably wrong, along with all of the computer models and other “proof” inaccurate to the point of being purposefully deceptive.

 

At the heart of the case against the National Review is whether a scientist can silence his critics and one can only hope for the sake of science, free speech, freedom of the press, and the truth that Mann loses.

 

Editor’s note: The testimony of climate scientist Dr. John R. Christy of the University of Alabama before a 2011 U.S. House hearing on climate change addresses how and why Michael Mann and his “hockey stick” became such a prominent part of the IPCC Third Assessment Report in 2011. It is available at: https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files...

 

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Views: 551

Tags: Global-Warming, Michael-Mann, National-Review, Science

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Comment by Steve Tonchen on May 6, 2014 at 7:32am

1) "The 2009/2011 emails showed a clear attempt to promote one side of a debate by circumventing the normal peer review process"

In the climategate emails, scientists did NOT complain about the fact that some scientific journals were publishing opposing viewpoints. The scientists complained that, in two specific instances, journals had published articles that were so obviously flawed, so blatantly off-the-wall, that they never should have passed the peer review process.

Among scientific journals, there is a huge demand for AGW skeptic articles because such articles tend to produce a lot of publicity for the journal. No matter how much the scientists may complain about it, there is NOTHING they can do to affect the peer review policies of the thousands of scientific journals worldwide. Skeptics like Christy and Lindzen never have any problem getting their stuff published, and there is NOTHING that other climate scientists can do about it, except complain about it to each other in emails.

2) "Why did Penn State feel compelled to investigate Michael Mann?"

The AGW skeptic community made some VERY serious accusations against Mann, claiming that the climategate emails show that he is guilty of scientific fraud. Penn State commissioned TWO separate reviews of the matter. Also, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the National Science Foundation carried out its own investigation. All of these investigations determined that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for the AGW skeptics' accusations, that those accusations are totally bogus.

3) "you come close to threatening TPN members to avoid entering the discussion concerning the scientific basis of the human caused climate change/global warming."

First, the Tea Party can effectively make its case, without getting involved in the climate change debate. Rather than waste our time with endless technical discussions about climate sensitivity, proxies, feedbacks, etc., we should be focused on MORE IMPORTANT and MORE DOWN TO EARTH issues, like the fact that Obama's reckless spending spree is bankrupting the United States.

Second, if the Tea Party chooses to engage in scientific discussions regarding climate change, it should at least be wary of the AWG skeptic crowd. Besides promulgating a lot of outright and blatant falsehoods (such as, "the earth has been in a cooling cycle for the past 17 years"), these people are still engaging in ugly smear campaigns against climate scientists personally, accusing the scientists of perpetuating a "hoax" and publishing materials which are "purposely deceptive". The Tea Party risks tarnishing its reputation and credibility by "getting in bed" with a group whose arguments rely heavily on personal attacks.

Third, the Tea Party should NOT allow Steyn supporters to publish pro-Steyn materials on the Tea Party website. If Mr. Steyn can show, in court, that there is at least some truth in his public statements regarding Professor Mann, then Steyn has nothing to worry about. He will be vindicated in court. But, so far, Steyn has produce NO evidence to support his statements. Based on the evidence (or the absence of evidence) presented so far, a judge has ruled that the case against Steyn may proceed. That does NOT bode well for Mr. Steyn.

My intent is not to threaten anyone. I merely question the wisdom of the Tea party publishing a pro-Steyn article, by Alan Caruba, which contains the same kinds of defamatory and libelous statements (admittedly watered down) that got Steyn in trouble in the first place -- especially when Steyn has not produced, in court, any evidence supporting those statements.

Comment by Dr. Arthur W. Carpenter on May 5, 2014 at 1:52pm

Stevie,  Nobody believes you anymore!  Blah, blah, ...you can keep your Doctor...

Benghazi was a protest over a video... blah, blah,

IRS targeting of Conservatives ....blah, blah,

The 2009/2011 emails showed a clear attempt to promote one side of a debate by circumventing the normal peer review process.  Why did Penn State feel compelled to investigate Michael Mann?

IN MY OPINION, you come close to threatening TPN members to avoid entering the discussion concerning the scientific basis of the human caused climate change/global warming.

Why is every attempt being made to silence the scientific debate so globalists can control the energy resources of the planet?

"It is settled science, so shut up!" is not science; it is the law of the jungle.  Power dictates!

How much did you get for your soul, Stevie?

Comment by Steve Tonchen on May 5, 2014 at 1:01pm

Sorry about the junk after the end of my last post. Not sure where it came from.

Comment by Steve Tonchen on May 5, 2014 at 12:56pm

"Why doesn't Steve want Tea Partiers to voice their opinions"

Voicing opinions are fine. But be careful about stating, as scientific "fact", information that is not properly sourced. Example: It is true that the HadCRUT4 dataset shows only a meager 0.05 °C per decade rate of warming from 1997 to 2012, hence the appearance of a "global warming pause". But HadCRUT4 is based on measurements covering 84% of the globe. There are no ground temperature measurements for the remaining 16% of the planet, which includes the Arctic and portions of Africa and Asia.

If we fill-in the missing data with satellite measurements, we find that the average global temperature rose at a rate of 0.12 °C per decade which consistent with the average rate of warming for the past 60 years. Yes, the rate of warming has slowed in the equatorial and temperate regions of the earth, but the warming at the poles has accelerated.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.2297/abstract

The Tea Party needs to "cool it" with respect to the name-calling and the vitriolic language targeted against climate scientists personally. Climatologist Michael Mann has two libel lawsuits currently in progress -- one against Tim Ball in Canada, and one against Mark Steyn, of the National Review, here in the United States. In both lawsuits, the defendants will have ample opportunity to issue subpoenas, depose witnesses, and collect any evidence they might wish to collect, for the purpose of showing the court and proving to the world that global warming is a hoax.

But, so far, it appears that both defendants are in huge trouble. Neither of them has has produced ANY evidence even remotely suggesting that climatologists in general, and Dr. Mann in particular, are guilty of scientific fraud.

As I indicated earlier, there are plenty of good fiscal and economic reasons to oppose Obama's policies. So, there is no need for the Tea party to get in bed with climate-science skeptics and their smear campaigns against climate scientists.

0.05 °C per decade
0.05 °C per decade
temperature, HadCRUT and NOAA. I
temperature, HadCRUT and NOAA. I
HadCRUT4 data, which are state-of-the-art except for their treatment of data gaps. For 1997-2012 these data show a relatively small warming trend of only 0.05 °C per decade – - See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/global-warmin...
Comment by Gerald V. Todd on May 5, 2014 at 9:25am

Living in Kern County, Ca with it's massive oil and gas resources and part of the "Breadbasket of the World" - once, I don't see Tea Partiers raising hell. It is George Soros' MoveOn.org, the Daily Kos and numerous other left wing totalitarian organizations that are marching, picketing and vilifying our Republican elected officials over fracking. Since much of our oil is heavy crude, our industry has been the leader in technological development for decades. With the Monterrey shale formation beneath our feet, we have as much oil and gas as North Dakota. The difference is, we're in Democrat/totalitarian run California.

Soros seems to have his filthy hands in everything - anti-fracking when he stole a bunch of rigs from the Gulf to be used  offshore Brazil with a cool $1 bil gift from Obama. The other day, my local paper reported a film Gasland Part II is being filmed in Bakersfield at the local Episcopal Church. Locals found out about it, and at least half filled the auditiorium with sane people. A computer breakdown stopped production for now.http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/business/oil/x1042370323/Tech...   Is it an accident that this particular church is also big on gay marriage and gay clergy? And the TP is supposed to be quiet?

As an agricultural area, we tend to appreciate CO2 because plants need it for photosynthesis. The key is stewardship, not political propaganda to empower one world government advocates like Soros.

An old acquaintance from my parish was the inventor of the horizontal boring tool. He went over the original drawings with me (an engineer) over 20 years ago. It's all his fault for exporting his ingenuity to the industry. LOL. We have lots of wind and solar here too - clubbing and frying birds by the hundreds.

Why doesn't Steve want Tea Partiers to voice their opinions, especially to stand for sanity with scientists that are actually seeking truth, not pre-arranged conclusions in order to obtain grant money. That's what the Science Theory below is about.

Comment by Steve Tonchen on May 5, 2014 at 6:04am

1) When it became obvious that there had been no warming since 1998 (to present) the UN decided to change the name to "climate change." 

This is simply untrue. The term "climate change" was consistently and repeatedly used well prior to 1998. For example, Gilbert Plass' 1956 study 'The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change' (which coincidentally estimated the climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide at 3.6°C, not far off from today's widely accepted most likely value of 3°C).  Barrett and Gast published a letter in Science in 1971 entitled simply 'Climate Change'.  The journal 'Climatic Change' was created in 1977 (and is still published today).  The IPCC was formed in 1988, and of course the 'CC' is 'climate change', not 'global warming'.  There are many, many other examples of the use of the term 'climate change' many decades ago.  There is nothing new whatsoever about the usage of the term.

2) "it is a 13 page document enumerating some of the more troubling inconsistencies with the IPCC position on man caused climate change."

The fact that a 13-page document asks some questions regarding technical details doesn't say anything, one way or the other, regarding the answers to those questions. Those kinds of issues are best left to climate scientists to argue among themselves, through the peer review mechanism. Skeptics, such as Cristy and Lindzen, have no problem getting their stuff published in peer reviewed scientific journals. So this notion that the peer review process is inherently biased against skeptics doesn't hold water. If a skeptic article is not publish, it is only because it fails to meet minimum peer-review standards.

Bottom line: There is no need for the Tea Party to get involved in a scientific debate. It is not appropriate for Tea Party members, who are not climatologists, to be making disparaging comments against climatologists and to be accusing them of fraud. Nor is it necessary for the Tea Party to participate in anti-climatologist smears, disparagement and other such personal attacks. For example, we can SUPPORT the Keystone XL pipeline SOLELY on the basis that it will have no net effect on CO2 emissions: if Canada can't sell its oil to the US, it will simply sell its oil to China. Either way, Canadian oil will become CO2, regardless of whether the pipeline is built or not.

The point is, the Tea Party can effectively argue against Obama anti-oil anti-coal policies, without getting involved in a scientific debate and without "getting in bed" with climate science skeptics, especially those who (like many liberals) tend to disparage and belittle those with whom they disagree.

Comment by Dr. Arthur W. Carpenter on May 4, 2014 at 11:55pm

Steve Tonchen your statements of fact are not correct or just misguided.  Then again you could be part of the group of people attempting to execute the theft of thirty trillion based on the false claim of "global warming."  When it became obvious that there had been no warming since 1998 (to present) the UN decided to change the name to "climate change."  Along with this name change it was decided that all local extreme weather or geologic events would be blamed on "climate change." Period!

As to the item stevie labels as #2) it is a 13 page document enumerating some of the more troubling inconsistencies with the IPCC position on man caused climate change.  It is a product of Physicists meant to address the concerns of fellow Physicists with the "science" of the IPCC.  All statements in RED are questions that need to be answered.  If steve tonchen thinks the fact that a position review framing document is not "peer reviewed" is meaningful...he is not in a position to contribute or part of the hoax.

Comment by Dennis Langston on May 4, 2014 at 11:49pm

Now, considering weather modification as an established fact, did anyone else notice that every time Obama got into political hot water we had another major weather event to fill the news cycles. The high point was Hurricane Sandy which not only washed out Benghazi as top news story it gave Obama an opportunity to look (Presidential) in his concern for the victims right before the election.

Comment by Gayla Mitchell on May 4, 2014 at 11:28pm

Here is the treaty with the United Nations with Counties including U.S. in not using Weather Modification. Weather Modification was used in China to clear the smog for the Olympics. First link is treaty and second link is some verifiable history of Weather Modification in use.......

http://www.state.gov/t/isn/4783.htm

http://coto2.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/case-orange-60-years-of-geoen...

Comment by Dennis Langston on May 4, 2014 at 11:02pm

Climate change is a defensive weapon used to ridicule those who dare ask about governmental weather control.Check out the weather modification treaties with nations such as Germany and Canada. If it did not exist, why have treaties since the 70's. The treaties say it cannot be used as a military weapon against another nation. It does not preclude it from being used against your own people.

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