Want to prod an anti-science syndrome sufferer into a vitriolic rampage, utter two words: “hockey stick”. And, want to see them turn red, add two more words: “Michael Mann”. Simply put, Dr. Michael Mann’s work on reconstructing temperature records using multiple sources provided a very telling demonstration of how (rapidly mounting) modern temperatures were entering ranges simply not seen over (at least) the past 1000 years. Legitimate climate skeptics had wondered whether modern temperatures were really out of whack with recent (past several thousand years or so) global temperatures, with the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) being the most prominent reason for questioning whether late 20th Century temperatures were really something unusual. Mann’s work showed that they were. And, that work has been reinforced and, well, confirmed by study after study since then. Honest skeptics, therefore, moved into realization that something significant was happening that humanity was having an impact on the climate — even if uncertain about how much. Simply put, this infuriates deniers, who are fighting tooth-and-nail to undermine honest scientific endeavors and weaken public understanding of science / scientific methods.
For a long time, Dr. Michael Mann has thus been a lightning rod for the climate denial machine. One part of that machine developed an innovatively abusive method for attack: leveraging control of a state government to use taxpayer resources on an anti-academic liberty crusade.
For two years now, Ken Cuccinelli, the Tea Party-darling Attorney General of Virginia, has been eating up tax-payer resources harassing Mann in a Court-rejected effort to drive the University of Virginia to violate academic privilege and do a data dump of all of Professor Mann’s email correspondence while he was at UVA.
As The Washington Post put it re Kook-inelli’s crusade: “a costly episode of government overreach” and a “witch hunt”.
WE KNEW Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli’s abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia’s universities will suffer for years to come.
While Governor McDonnell works to cut Richmond’s assistance to K-12 education across the Commonwealth, his Attorney General is eating up significant resources that could be put to much better use.
Sadly, the Cuccinelli crusade has received reinforcement from the fossil-foolish funded American Tradition Institute. (As an aside, “American Tradition” in the sense of an industry-funded astroturf organization choosing a name broadly appealing to those unable (or unwilling, like too many journalists) to delve into their real agenda.)
In face of this legal assault, a simple reality: academic salaries don’t go too far when paying for lawyers and other legal expenses. And, a sad reality, the assaults on Professor Mann (and other scientists) creates (as desired) a chilling effect on other scientists who are worried about being bankrupted by anti-science suffering legal crusades funded by fossil fuel interests.
Recognizing this, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) has been helping fund Dr. Mann’s legal defense as well as other scientists who face similar challenges. To be clear, a good deal of the ‘costs’ are actually deferred by lawyers willing to provide pro-bono assistance and/or greatly reduced charges serving to defend science and scientists. Even so, the costs mount.
The CSLDF has opened a new effort with some amusing gift opportunities for donors:
- Three t-shirt designs (see to the right): $25 gets you one, $50 two, and $75 all three
- $150 and you get a signed copy of Climate Change: Picturing the Science along with the t-shirts.
- $300 and you will have — as per this post’s title — your own Climate Hockey Stick … signed by Professor Michael Mann.
- And, for those willing to put their check books truly behind defending science, $1000 will get you a signed print from Joshua Wolfe.
In truth, these “gifts” are really beside the fact. Donating to this fund provides you a much more serious gift: knowing that you are helping defend scientists and science against the full-throated assault of those seeking to undermine science.
While I have yet to finish it, highly recommended: Michael Mann , The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.