American climate expert Michael Mann awarded $1 million in legal battle over defamation.
Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist, was granted $1 million by a jury in a defamation case against two conservative authors who equated his portrayal of global warming to that of a convicted child abuser.
The case dates back to 12 years ago. In a statement shared on Mann’s account on the platform X, one of his attorneys stated: “The decision made today clears Mike Mann’s name and reputation. It is also a significant triumph for honesty and scientists worldwide who commit their careers to addressing crucial scientific inquiries that affect human well-being and the environment.”
Mann 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. It showed average temperatures in the northern hemisphere changing little for 900 years, until they started to rise rapidly in the 20th century.
Mann’s work gained significant attention when he was a professor at Penn State University and currently at the University of Pennsylvania. It was cited in a 2001 report by a UN climate panel and was also referenced in Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth.
In 2009, emails from Mann and other scientists were released in a situation referred to as “Climategate”. Those who deny climate change alleged that Mann tampered with data. However, investigations conducted by Penn State and other parties, including a review of the emails by the Associated Press, concluded that there was no evidence of data manipulation by Mann.
In 2012, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian organization, shared a post by Rand Simberg on their blog. The post drew parallels between the investigations into Michael Mann’s work by Penn State University and the case of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach who was found guilty of sexually abusing several children.
Simberg stated that Mann could be compared to Jerry Sandusky in the field of climate science. However, instead of harming children, Mann has manipulated and distorted data. Mark Steyn also referenced Simberg’s article in his own piece for National Review, accusing Mann’s research of being fraudulent.
Mann filed lawsuits against both the men and their publishers. In 2021, a judge ruled that the two outlets could not be held responsible and dismissed them as defendants, but the allegations against the individuals still stand.
Simberg and Steyn stated that they were simply sharing their viewpoint.
Per the statement from the Mann legal team, the four-week jury trial at the District of Columbia superior court concluded with punitive damages of $1,000 for Simberg and $1,000,000 for Steyn.
Mann stated that he hopes this ruling serves as a reminder that making false attacks against climate scientists is not considered protected speech.