The Environmental Spectator

Mann Acts

Dr. Michael Mann seeks the help of other Climategate players to prevent access to his University of Virginia emails. 

By 9.14.11

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Dr. Michael Mann, who under a lesser title at University of Virginia created the famed "hockey stick" chart of 20th-century temperature escalations while leveling the Medieval Warm Period, has enlisted a Climategate Cavalcade of Stars to help him enter as an interested party in a lawsuit in which my organization, American Tradition Institute, seeks to get his old UVA emails and data.

Early this month Mann, who is now at Pennsylvania State University, had his lawyers ask for permission to intervene in ATI's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against UVA. Our request seeks correspondence between Mann and 30-plus other global warming activist scientists who form much of the cabal that created the various predictive reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The university, buttressed by the urgings of groups including ACLU, People for the American Way, Union of Concerned Scientists, and American Association of University Professors, is withholding the meaningful documents ATI seeks. Mann himself said the few thousand documents UVA turned over so far were, more or less, meaningless "boilerplate." ATI lawyers David Schnare and Chris Horner (also an AmSpec contributor), under a court-order, will be allowed to identify some of the remaining emails the university believes should be kept from public view so as to reduce the number the judge will have to examine, and then ATI and UVA will argue which ones should be disclosed in a court hearing this fall. Dr. Schnare and Mr. Horner are under clear orders that whatever they see they must forever keep confidential unless the court later orders those emails released.

In his attempt to intervene, Mann has called upon friends in academe to bolster his claim that, despite using a taxpayer-funded email system at UVA, that he has the right to prevent the public from seeing what he says are "private" emails. The concept that government-owned, or "public," does not mean "private" is inconceivable to him (see Exhibit 2, here).

His appeal to the Prince William County court where ATI's case is being heard included supportive letters (Exhibit 6, here) to UVA president Teresa Sullivan from four of his cohorts in Climategate or hockey stick creation fame. Each pleader registers objection to UVA providing "personal" or "private" emails to ATI under its existing court-authorized agreement. And amusingly enough, each of his four backers has his or her own credibility problems.

The first complainant is Rosanne D'Arrigo, a tree-ring reconstructor at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, who told Sullivan in her letter that "these are personal emails not relevant to valid scientific concerns." Plucky, D'Arrigo is famous for explaining to the National Academy of Sciences that "cherry picking" is necessary if you want to make cherry pie. And as for what she thought of that "divergence problem" with tree-ring proxies: Pshaw! (see pages 11 & 12).

Next standing behind Mann is Dr. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who when last we checked was still on the outside looking in at the National Academy of Sciences "Fight Club," despite his Climategate-revealed plans to "beat the crap out of" somewhat skeptical fellow climatologist Pat Michaels. Those sentiments ran afoul of LLNL's "missions and values" which required their publicly funded employees to show "respect for individuals" and "treat each other with dignity." He also had erased statements that stated global warming was not attributable to human activities from the eighth chapter of the 1995 UN IPCC report, which also set off the integrity alarms.

Santer also fails to give up the idea that his government-funded email communications belong to taxpayers, not himself. His letter to UVA's Sullivan (of course) does not note his IPCC deletions as he explains the integrity of his and Mann's "science," but it does characterize their emails as "personal." "Professor Mann's only 'transgression' is that he has performed cutting-edge research in the public and national interest (emphasis mine)," Santer wrote to Sullivan. Yep, that's "personal" all right!

The third prestigious scientist (just ask him) supporting Mann is Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. His Climategate fame is derived from his concern about a "travesty" that "we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment," in addition to his other failed predictions such as future hurricane horrors while administering discipline as one of the scientific journal brown shirts. In writing to Sullivan, Trenberth makes sure she knows how "distinguished" and "prominent" he is while he urges her to hide Mann's emails from public scrutiny, citing "academic freedom." We ask, can there be "taxpayer freedom" to opt out of the financing of secretive scientists' research?

The final alarmist to push for Sullivan to keep Mann's work under wraps is University of Massachusetts scientist Raymond Bradley, who co-authored the "hockey stick", which should suffice in explanation of his support for Mann. But just for amusement it's also noteworthy that Bradley's letter to Sullivan refers her to his new book "Global Warming and Political Intimidation," in which he cites Ben Santer as a victim!

But that's not all. Bradley, so outraged by intrusion on to principles of academic secrecy when exercised by ATI, was unhindered by such sentiments in his own inquiry (with USA Today reporter Dan Vergano) of Professor Edward Wegman at George Mason University, another Virginia state educational institution. Bradley had accused Wegman of plagiarizing his work (more meaningless "boilerplate," according to Climate Audit, irrelevant to Wegman's findings) in his 2006 report that exposed statistical problems with Mann's work. While George Mason investigated his allegation, Bradley violated a confidentiality requirement about forwarding Wegman's work to third parties. And as Climate Audit's Steve McIntyre has shown, Bradley is selective in who he gets mad at for plagiarism (friends are okay), and of course, self-examination of his own reproduction of others' work is non-existent.

In his attempt to intervene in the ATI/UVA case, Mann also makes his own plea to Sullivan and the university lawyers. "Allowing the indiscriminate release of these materials will cause damage to reputations and harm principles of academic freedom," he wrote.

Fortunately neither side -- ATI nor UVA -- believes in an "indiscriminate" release. But in that one statement Mann provides reason enough for the records about his work and the company he keeps to be made public.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.