Protecting Climate Scientists from Frivolous Lawsuits

Posted on January 27, 2012

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Anybody following the climate file knows about the ongoing attacks on climate scientists.  They are regularly smeared on right-wing blogs and in the media, particularly media controlled by the shady media baron Rupert Murdoch.  Lies are invented about them out of whole cloth and circulated uncritically by a large climate denial echo chamber.  Hate campaigns are waged against them instigated by prominent climate deniers in positions of prominence.  Among the persecuted scientists, names like Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Katharine Hayhoe spring to mind, but these are only the most prominent and recent victims of a widespread attack on climate science by people and organizations for whom the truth of climate change is very inconvenient indeed, including for instance the petrofuel industry.

One of the ways the persecution is carried out is through nuisance lawsuits by well-funded (sometimes government-funded) climate deniers.  (Michael Mann can tell you about being persecuted by the attorney-general of Virginia.)  Since most climate scientists can’t generally afford to fight off these nuisance law suits on modest academic salaries, their employment by enemies of climate science can have a deadening affect on the science itself, discouraging research and making sure scientists keep their mouths shut about all the alarming truths their research keeps telling them.

Thus the Climate Science Legal Defence Fund has been set up.  If you think the defense of open scientific discourse in climate science (or any other kind of science for that matter) is important, this is very good news indeed.

Here is what they say on their website:

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: Protecting the Scientific Endeavor

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established with one goal: to protect the scientific endeavor. Scientific research has brought us amazing advancements in technology, medicine, and in our basic understanding of the planet. Over the last twenty years, a small handful of politically-motivated think tanks and legal foundations, because they disliked certain scientific findings, have taken legal action against scientific institutions and individual scientists. In recent years, the legal attacks have intensified, especially against climate scientists.

The scientific method is designed around the belief that skepticism is good. Results should be subjected to the utmost scrutiny through the peer review process, followed by close examination and replication by others in the scientific community. Those whose ideas do not live up to the standards of rigorous science have instead chosen to litigate.

For the individual scientist these legal actions are a painful burden. Academic salaries were not designed to support ongoing legal expenses. Legal actions also have taken many of our brightest scientific minds away from their research to focus on frivolous lawsuits. This state of affairs is unacceptable. The United States of America should be the leader in science and technology, and it cannot do so if unscrupulous people subject our scientists to these actions.

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established to make sure that these legal claims are not viewed as an action against one scientist or institution, but that they are seen as actions against the scientific endeavor as a whole. As such the Fund will defend climate scientists who are dragged into litigation and act aggressively to protect the interests of the scientific endeavor.

In addition, the Climate Science Defense Fund will create platforms and opportunities for members of the scientific community to gain a better understanding of the legal issues surrounding their work.

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Climate Science Legal Defense Fund website:  http://climatesciencedefensefund.org/