Climate change

Climate scientist Michael Mann sues over sex-offender comparison

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2012, 4:57am

Michael Mann, a US scientist at the centre of the "climate wars", has sued a rightwing think tank and a magazine for comparing him to the convicted sex offender and disgraced American football coach Jerry Sandusky and accusing him of academic fraud.

Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, is suing the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the National Review.

The 37-page complaint arises from blog posts published in July, and accuses National Review and CEI of recycling "false and defamatory statements" about Mann's research.

Mann, whose iconic hockey-stick graph shows a sharp uptick in temperatures since 1900, has come under repeated attack from climate contrarians. He has been cleared of academic wrongdoing by seven probes, but the attacks persist, culminating in July's blogs likening him to Sandusky.

A post on the CEI blog referred to Mann as "the other scandal" at Penn State and accused the scientist of "molesting data" about climate change. The sentences likening Mann to Sandusky were later removed.

National Review later picked up the post, although the writer added a minor caveat.

Mann's Facebook page said: "Despite their knowledge of the results of these many investigations, the defendants have accused Dr Mann of academic fraud and have maliciously attacked his personal reputation with the knowingly false comparison to a child molester. The conduct of the defendants is outrageous, and Dr Mann will be seeking judgment for both compensatory and punitive damages."

Mann said the lawsuit was part of a larger effort by scientists to push back against the attacks on climate science.

Another new front was opened up in that broader fight with the release of a report by climate contrarians intended to undermine an authoritative US government study on the effects of climate change.

The Daily Climate reported that another rightwing think tank in Washington, the Cato Institute, planned to put out its own version of a landmark US government climate science report - aimed at discrediting mainstream climate science.

The Cato report appears almost identical to a 2009 study detailing the effects of climate change on the US. But the Cato version was assembled by climate contrarians and concludes that the impacts of climate change would have "little national significance" in the US.