climate change to “fraud”
A jury granted $1 million to Michael Mann, a climate scientist who sued two conservative authors 12 years ago for accusing his portrayal of climate change as “fraudulent.”
to an individual who has been found guilty of sexually abusing a child.
Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, rose to fame for a graph first published in 1998 in the journal Nature that was dubbed the “hockey stick” for its dramatic illustration of a warming planet.
Mann’s work gained him significant recognition, but also faced criticism from numerous skeptics. This included two writers whom he sued for making comments that, according to Mann, negatively impacted his professional standing and reputation both in the United States and abroad.
Former Penn State University assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was found guilty of sexually abusing several children. During that time, Mann was also employed at Penn State.
Mann’s study was scrutinized following the release of his and fellow scientists’ email correspondence in 2009. This incident sparked additional examination of the “hockey stick” graph, with skeptics alleging that Mann had altered the data. Penn State and other institutions conducted investigations to address these claims.
No misuse of data was found by Mann.
However, his efforts continued to face criticism, especially from those with conservative views.
Simberg wrote that Mann could be likened to Jerry Sandusky in the realm of climate science, except instead of harming children, he has manipulated and distorted data. In a subsequent article for National Review, Mark Steyn cited Simberg’s piece and accused Mann of conducting fraudulent research.
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia jury concluded that Simberg and Steyn were guilty of making false statements. As a consequence, Mann was granted $1 in compensatory damages from each writer. Additionally, the jury ordered Simberg to pay $1,000 and Steyn to pay $1 million in punitive damages due to their malicious and intentional intent to harm.
During the legal proceedings, Steyn acted as his own representative. However, he relayed through his manager, Melissa Howes, that he plans to challenge the $1 million punitive damages award. He argued that it must undergo a thorough examination to ensure fair treatment.
During the trial, Mann claimed that his grant funding was affected by the blog posts. However, the defendants argued that Mann did not provide enough proof to support his assertion. They also stated that Mann actually gained recognition as a prominent climate scientist in the years following their comments.
Steyn, speaking through his manager on Thursday, stated that they have consistently maintained that Mann did not experience any real harm from the statement in question. After a span of twelve years, the jury has now granted him one dollar as compensation for damages.
Mark DeLaquil, the attorney representing Simberg, expressed that his client was dissatisfied with the outcome of the verdict and intends to appeal the jury’s ruling.
Both authors contended that they were simply expressing their viewpoints.
Problems addressed in the lawsuit
According to Lyrissa Lidsky, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Florida, the jurors determined that Steyn and Simberg had knowingly made false statements. Lidsky also noted that the difference between the amount awarded for compensatory and punitive damages could lead to the judge reducing the punitive damages.
For years, numerous scientists have been tracking Mann’s situation as false information about climate change continues to spread on certain social media sites.
Kate Cell, the senior climate campaign manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed her wish for people to carefully consider their actions before spreading false information and attacking scientists. Part of her responsibilities include monitoring and addressing misinformation surrounding climate change.
Cell stated that we have strayed from having a civilized discussion based on facts, and they hope that this decision can guide us back on track.
On Wednesday, Judge Alfred Irving, who is presiding over the case, reminded the jury that their role was not to determine the existence of global warming.
Climate change continues to be a divisive and highly partisan issue in the United States. A 2023 poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 91% of Democrats believe climate change is happening, while only 52% of Republicans do.
Mann announced on Thursday that he plans to appeal a ruling made in 2021 by the D.C. Superior Court. The ruling stated that National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute were not responsible for defamation in the same case.
Mann stated that the decision was made incorrectly and that the next step will be taken against them.