Climate change deniers wallets threatened

Apparently climate scientist Michael Mann has threatened legal action* against Minnesotans for Global Warming (M4GW) over their  video “Hide the Decline.” This used the comment from the “climategate” emails to portray a dishonest and slanderous picture of Mann. The video has been heavily promoted by climate change deniers and conservative  groups, news outlets and blogs internationally. Several conservative NZ bloggers promoted the video.

So far I have only seen the M4GW press release which is somewhat cavalier. However, they have taken the video down from YouTube. When asked why he removed the video, M4GW’s Elmer Beauregard said “Right now, the last thing I need is a lawsuit. I can barely afford my electric bill.” The fact that they have replaced it with another revised one, “Hide the Decline 2,” suggests they had something to fear from Mann’s “cease and desist” order.

Science confirmed sound

All the inquiries into the “climategate” affair are confirming that, despite questions over freedom of information requests,  there was no inappropriate scientific behaviour involved. In fact, it was rather silly to believe that any had occurred given that this is one of the most scrutinised and reviewed areas of science.

So, if this legal threat develops further courts would likely find in Mann’s favour. These irresponsible climate change denial campaigners may face the financial reality of their slanderous behaviour.

Legal action by scientists is unusual. Perhaps we are naive but the usual response to criticsm is to present evidence. However, the “climategate” campaign has brushed aside evidence and reason. It has been basically hysterical and nasty. Honest scientists have been abused, misrepresented and defamed with seemingly no conscience.

NZ denial campaign

We have seen the same situation in New Zealand. A conservative cabal of climate change denial conspiracy theorists (eg. Ian Wishart and Richard Treadgold), conservative bloggers, the ACT Party and right wing political groups such as The Climate Science Coalition, the Climate Conversation Group , and the Centre for Political Research have coordinated their activity recently. They attacked New Zealand NIWA scientists by producing and circulating a dishonest  report. This claimed that scientists “created a warming effect where none existed.” That “the shocking truth is that the oldest readings were cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming.” And “we have discovered that the warming in New Zealand over the past 156 years was indeed man-made, but it had nothing to do with emission of CO2 – it was created by man-made adjustments of the temperature. It’s a disgrace.” (see New Zealand’s denier-gate).

So, perhaps this is the future. Now that the “climategate” hysteria is settling, now that inquiry after inquiry shows no evidence of scientific misbehaviour, perhaps the chickens can come home to roost. Perhaps those responsible for the nastiest aspects of this hysterical campaign can face the financial consequences of their behaviour.

I say – bring it on! And wouldn’t it be nice if some of those in New Zealand who participated and encouraged this nasty campaign faced similar threats to their back pockets.

*Update: Here is the letter sent by Mann’s lawyers.

See also:

Climategate Figure Threatens Lawsuit Over Satirical YouTube Video ‘Hide the Decline’.


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39 responses to “Climate change deniers wallets threatened

  1. Imagine that.
    A scientist so pissed off about people smearing his public reputation that he’s willing to sue!
    Not just lie down and take it but actually call them out for it and go for their wallet.
    Oh happy day come quickly.


  2. Mann is a crook and the anonomous author of this piece is an idiot.


  3. Mann is a crook and the anonomous author…


    (..awkward silence…)


    I guess remedial English wasn’t part of your “Phd”.

    Lern to spel, you cretin.


  4. Bring it on.

    Prove your “science” in an impartial courtroom.


  5. Jn, unfortunately (read the letter) this will probably be fought out as a copyright issue (although I see the deniers have withdrawn their videos).

    But have a think about the challenge to “intelligent design” in the Dover courtroom. Science won there and given the lack of any evidence for scientific misdemeanor I think an objective court would find for Mann.

    So, I say -bring it on. And I just wish we could do the same about the local crooks who have been slandering honest scientists.


  6. Richard Christie

    It would be a shame if M4GW pull the video and that just ends the matter.
    Better if they get hammered.


  7. Pingback: News from the front: scientists directly challenge claims of fraud through defamation/libel laws « Watching the Deniers

  8. I agree Richard and that may be all that Mann intends at this stage.

    However, have a look at which describes legal action by a climate scientist against a newspaper gor their misreporting related yo his work.

    Sent from my iPod


  9. Watching the Deniers

    Thanks Ken for story – big hat tip 😉

    Bring it on I say, it will be denial movements Dover moment.

    DeSmogBlog reports a piece of litigation already begun:

    “Dr. Andrew Weaver, one of the most respected climate scientists in Canada and one of the best climate modellers in the world, has launched a libel suit against the National Post newspaper and its publisher, editors and three writer: Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster and Kevin Libin.

    In the words of a news release broadcast today, the suit is for “a series of unjustified libels based on grossly irresponsible falsehoods that have gone viral on the Internet.”

    Just like Dover, when the creationists got excited about putting “Darwin on trial” they got a very, very rude shock.

    This is what happens when the PR fluff and spin meets science head on.

    Here is my challenge to the “skeptics”:

    – If Mann are found to have been defamed, will you accept that?
    – If during the course of these actions, the science is found to stand up, will you accept it?

    Or will be another conspiracy?

    At what point do you stop being a sceptic, and become an ideologue?


  10. I’m not sure I do want to see legal threats of this nature used as a way of furthering the, for want of a better word, ‘debate’.

    Apart from anything else, the enemies of science have very deep pockets. And judges often side with unscientific plaintiffs.


  11. Watching the Deniers

    Have to disagree mate: see the following examples, two of which deal with defamation issues:

    Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District – this 2005 US case was an embarrassing defeat for the Intelligent Design (ID) movement. The attempts by conservative members of the school board to introduce ID were soundly defeated, In addition ID was scrutinised as a “science” by the Judge and where found to be nothing more than dressed up creationism. For years creationists had been hoping to “put Darwinism on trial”, believing it would vindicate their beliefs. They got that day, and where soundly defeated.

    David Irving v Penguin Books Limited and Deborah E. Lispstadt – notorious Holocaust denier Irving brought a libel suit against Penguin books and historian Lispstadt for publishing the book Denying the Holocaust. Irving was named as a “holocaust denier”. At the heart of the trial: a debate over the historical veracity of the Holocaust. The results for Irving where disastrous: his reputation as a historian completely destroyed and he was forced to pay the others sides legal costs.

    Also, consider the Simon Singh case in the UK:

    This is not about the debate, this is about the very grubby, under handed tactics of the deniers who have deliberately set out to trash the reputation of both the scientists and the standing of the science.

    These are why these laws exist: to call such people to account.

    Put it this way: imagine if the deniers said *you* where a fraud, made videos about it, spread the message across the Internet and even claimed you where a criminal.

    Would you sit back? Or would you be inspired to fight back?

    The deniers knew exactly what they where doing: playing the man in order to discredit the science.

    Problem is, when you play the man they can appeal to the umpire and get you taken off the field.


  12. hmmm. Not sure the Mann action is that useful.

    1. twitter’s now going nuts with the denialists talking about it;
    2. it prompted a press conference at the National Press Club
    3. denialists are posting it everywhere they can.

    Result? it’s gone viral and if I were the denialists i’d be well happy – just as Greenpeace thanked Nestle’s PR department for pulling the kitkat video .


  13. I’m also not sure that climate science should be debated in the courts – it should be through peer reviewed journals, surely?


  14. I agree that the courts are npythe place to debate science. But this issue isn’t about science. It’s about slander, defamation and distorted reporting.

    Granted that there will be attpempts to question the science so as to justify the slander. But there is nothing wrong with the science. Mann’s work was vindicated by previous reviews.

    The deep pockets of the deniers backers is a clear problem. However, they may not choose to allow a court case because a legal vindication for Mann etc will be even more damning and public than the review inquiries were.

    While Singh’s case is heartening it may not be possible to build the mass support he got around Mann, etc.

    Ethically science insitutions should support Mann financially but they tend to be afraid of such things. The Maxicrop case in NZ was ome scientists won but the CRIs act as if we lost because if the time and money involved.

    it looks like Mann is taking it slowly, mainly raising it as a copyright issue. The fact that they have pulled the video, and it’s replacement, indicates these things often are successful without going to court.

    But somehow I hope there a way for these scoundrels to be made to suffer financially for their behaviour. I think they are immune to
    appeals to science or integrity but will think twice if they realize their wallets may be at risk.


  15. @Watching the Deniers – I think Simon Singh was sued by the BCA, not the other way around.


  16. Watching the Deniers

    He was, and appealed – and won.


  17. Cindybax – yes Twitter is going crazy but doesn’t this sort of hysteria discredit the deniers?

    My impression is that the recent inquiry reports have allayed some of the doubts the person in the street may have and they are not convinced by hysterical claims of “whitewash!”

    I think even Twitter shows this.

    If there were a successful legal action for slander the result would be the same – hysterical claims of “whitewash” and victimization but most of the public would accept that was a minority extreme reaction.

    And don’t these people run the danger of demonstrating their political and economic links in the process?

    Already the Twitter message is clear that these people are largely right wing conservatives often using #teaparty and #toc tags.

    Don’t forget that while those people might try to misrepresent the science in a court case there would be plenty of very good scientists to oppose them. And there would be a chance to reveal what their own level of scientific credibility was, as well as their political and financial backing.

    They may not really want yo expose themselves to such scrutiny.

    Sent from my iPod


  18. Watching the Deniers

    As Ken noted it is about slander/libel.

    The science itself will not be on trial: however like Dover, and the Singh case the status of the science is of critical importance.

    When Jones looked at ID in the context of separation clauses of the US constitution he had to make a distinction between science and a religious point of view.

    In the case of Irving, he sued Penguin for slander. However, during litigation his materials and methods where open to the discovery process, and therefore subject to critical examination.

    Ditto the Singh case.

    The “science” shouldn’t be put on trial: correct. The courts are not the place, nor will they be.

    However, the denial movement has become expert at discrediting the peer review process. They go around the scientific community and straight to ordinary individuals via blogs, TV, press and the like.

    Just like the Oxborough report and the Parliamentary inquiry vindicated Jones/CRU, a finding of defamation against a denier/s will have enormous repercussions.

    Lastly, are we really saying scientists shouldn’t defend themselves against defamation like any other citizen or organisation can? Do we exempt them? And why?

    As it’s been said before, it’s now a street fight. However, instead of simply slinging mud the scientists are calling this guys to account via a legitimate, legal process that is an option for anyone where the law and court system allows it.

    Just like the tobacco litigation, once we get behind the wall of the denial movement we will see just how ugly their tactics are.

    We didn’t go soft on tobacco companies for hiding the evidence that smoking was harmful, or that they actively mislead.

    Why should the deniers not be subject to the same treatment. Think what is at stack if they continue to slow our response to the threat of AGW?


  19. as i said, mann sues video; video goes viral and climategate continues. It’ll be all over the media next.

    Sometimes legal action is not a good communications tool. Ask Nestle.


  20. I’m also not sure that climate science should be debated in the courts – it should be through peer reviewed journals, surely?

    No argument here.
    Climate science has gone through the process of peer review endlessly and repeatedly for decades now.
    That’s not going to change.
    Yet deniers are not about science.
    They are about PR. It’s all about the spin.

    It’s all Foxnews and op-eds and trashy videos and McExperts wheeled out from the nursing home and in front of the cameras to provide a neat little sound-bite.

    Deniers want a debate but not where there are (gulp) rules… and…consequences.
    They want the publicity, not the scrutiny.

    The process of peer-review has very strict rules.
    The deniers can’t get away with much in that arena.
    A court of law, while not a normal venue for science, at least has rules where evidence must be presented.
    Hysteria and vague suspicions are usually given short shrift when there’s a judge.

    Having a court case could very well be as significant as Dover was for the “Intelligent Design” movement where the creationists got their asses handed to them.

    The fact that they have pulled the video, and it’s replacement, indicates these things often are successful without going to court.

    It’s good that this happened. People don’t pull a video when they don’t have to. Calling them on this is already a modest victory for the truth.
    Let’s hope other scientists will learn from this and stop being so passive about being slandered and maligned in public.


  21. In this case, Cindybax, is this a bad thing? The video appeals to extremists but wouldn’t most people see it as over the top, nothing to do with science and actually quite hateful! That’s how the bideo looks to me but I may not be objective.

    I don’t think there is any way of winning teabaggers and similar extremists, and their financial backers, over to support the science.

    And doesn’t doing nothing in the face of slander even open up one to the charge of guilty?

    Wouldn’t they actually see it as confirmation of slander!

    Sent from my iPod


  22. the weaver case against the National Post is different – this is a serious case about a newspaper’s consistent inaction and defamation over a long period of time – not a silly video.

    Just as simon lewis is taking on the Sunday Times, this is worth pursuing.


  23. I tend to agree. The video itself is relatively minor and really discredits itself. Anyone who promotes it is making themselves look foolish except to the hardcore denier.

    There have been plenty of lies and slander about Mann in all sorts of media, though. The campaign against him and Jones has been really brutal.

    I would really like to see that challenged. It will be a pity if it just stops at the video.

    Sent from my iPod


  24. Watching the Deniers

    Dover vs Kitzmiller – the plaintiffs challgended teh creationists.

    It become world wide news, even coverd extensively in the Oz media. Sure, it gave the ID crowd some profile – but it made their failure all the more public.

    Challegning these guys in public manner while bring attention, but we have something they don’t have.

    Sound science. The truth. Facts.

    In a court, when the evidence is put before a neutral third party (Dover, Singh, Irving) the results are more likely to favor science.

    Again, another example: the vaccine omnibus decision that crippled much of the claims of the anti-vaccine crowd:

    Why be so timid?


  25. Watching the Deniers

    I think the important thing about the Mann case would be setting a precedent: it acts as a big stop sign to the denial community about making slanderous claims.

    Whether it be Monckton, of this little group it sends a powerful message.


  26. Richard Christie

    It was a video intended to denigrate and slander an individual.
    In my view it had no basis in the principle of fairly held opinion which is probably the hurdle Mann will have to overcome in any court action. As it was based on lies I think Mann shouldn’t have too much difficulty.


  27. Scientists should no more accept lies being told about them than anyone else, for instance there are many ways that you can attack politicians, but even they have the right, and I think should (and usually do) exercise the right to sue when things reach the disgraceful level of lies and character assassination that’s been seen in some of the attacks we’ve seen on climate scientists.


  28. Watching the Deniers

    Hear, hear Andrew W.


  29. Pingback: How Much Money Do Celebrities Make? | Earn Much Money

  30. Thought I’d clear a few things up for you all, since you sem to be missing most of the story and are pulling non-facts from imaginiations.

    M4GW, creators of the original “Hide the Decline” video pulled the video down because they can’t afford to defend themselves against Mann and his attorney, though they certainly had nothing to fear if they could afford a rudimentary defense. Mann’s claims are without merit. This amounts to a SLAPP action, or “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.”

    The new video was released by the No Cap And Trade Coalition at a press conference last Tuesday. NCAT is positively salivating over the idea that Michal Mann might sue. NCAT Spokesman, Jeff Davis said at the press conference, “Bring it on.” NCAT is looking forward to the discovery process. Sadly, nobody really thinks Mann will follow through with such a lawsuit and open his research up to legal and public scrutiny. One can hope, though! Sue, Mann, Sue!


  31. Oh and here’s a video that show how Mann’s threats have everyone quaking in their boots. enjoy!


  32. Dan, come off it. You know you haven’t a leg to stand on. The video is outright slanderous – it’s not a science issue.

    After having seen Simon Singh defend himself against the Chiropractors I would have thought if you have any confidence you would have raised money from your backers and supporters to defend yourself. The fact that you haven’t shows you realize your weakness, or that your backers have told you to retreat because they know you wouldn’t win.

    Mann’s work is well supported, heavly reviewed and has been duplicated by others. You aren’t going to mount a challenge on it . After all, you do slander and rudicule, not science.

    Sent from my iPod


  33. Richard Christie

    Oh and here’s a video that show how Mann’s threats have everyone
    Truly pathetic, there’s only one word for you people: vile.


  34. M4GW, creators of the original “Hide the Decline” video pulled the video down because they can’t afford to defend themselves against Mann and his attorney, though they certainly had nothing to fear if they could afford a rudimentary defense.

    Oh no. Of course not.

    Oh and here’s a video…

    You like videos, do you?
    Here’s one that sums up your crowd when faced with a judge and jury.

    Brave, brave Sir Robin.

    Now bravely bugger off and take your flaccid excuses with you.


  35. Richard Christie

    Agreed Cedric.
    Nothing to fear… Sue, Mann, Sue!

    Dan, why don’t your supporters at NACT just re-run the video, WITH Mann’s likeness and under their name, since they are positively salivating at the prospect of Mann suing?

    Because you are all dishonest cowards is the answer. Brave Sir Robins indeed.


  36. They did re-run the video at the press conference, and on the NCAT website. NCAT didn’t make or commission that original “Hide the Decline” video, however and it used some animation by Jib Jab. They (after giving initial permission) objected later and had it removed from YouTube. The NCAT version uses no such contested content. Have you even seen the videos in question?


  37. 4TimesAYear

    What you mean by “Climate Change” is formerly known as “Global Warming” –which is an impossibility – at best it’s regional. There is no such thing as a “global temperature” – hence there can be no “global” warming. It’s certainly not anthropogenic, since it’s happened long before the industrial age.


  38. No, 4times, I mean climate change by climate change. This can include warming and cooling – and a lot more besides temperature.

    Of course a global temperature is a construction (as is also a regional one). And a useful one.

    Now you may dogmatically say that humans are not contributing to current warming – but you only produce dogma to support the claim. Almost all the climate scientists in the world disagree with you.

    Why should I ignore them and accept your dogma?


  39. citizenschallenge

    Wow, now that’s some fact packed video –

    I am constantly blown away at the way contrarians choose to discuss scientific issues.

    So this video present their evidence for “disproving” the “hockey stick.”
    No wonder I’m not impressed.


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