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Renowned climate scientist's 12-year defamation lawsuit goes to trial

Michael Mann is a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Renowned climate scientist's 12-year defamation lawsuit goes to trial
Posted at 5:02 PM, Jan 18, 2024

A renowned climate scientist filed a lawsuit against a right-wing blogger and an analyst for defamation, and after more than a decade, the trial began on Thursday.

Michael Mann, an earth and environmental scientist from the University of Pennsylvania, filed the 2012 court case, claiming that online attacks on his work constituted defamation.

Mann sued two authors and their employers, Rand Simberg, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Mark Steyn, a National Review blogger, for making false and defamatory statements, accusing him of academic fraud and likening him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

In 2021, judges ruled that the CEI is not responsible for an "outside" blogger's attack and granted National Review's motion to be dismissed from Mann's case, stating the authors were not employees of the CEI or National Review. 

In 2007, Mann, along with Vice President Al Gore and colleagues from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, received the Nobel Peace Prize for establishing a consensus on the link between human activities and global warming.

The defendants in Mann's lawsuit claimed that global warming is a "hoax" and accused Mann of wrongly manipulating data to support his conclusions.

Following those accusations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and seven other organizations launched an investigation against Mann's work, but ultimately found the claims to be baseless, and that his research and conclusions were properly conducted and fairly presented.

After his investigation concluded, Mann filed a lawsuit against the two organizations and two authors for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Now only the bloggers, not the publications, could face legal trouble, and will have to defend the accusations facing them. 

Opening statements in the case began Thursday, and the trial is scheduled to run through the first week of February.

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