By Amel Ahmed
A prominent climatologist at the center of a libel battle with deniers of man-made global warming said Sunday that he was being targeted as part of a “well-funded” campaign to silence and discredit the “entire environmental movement.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera America just days after a court ruled that his defamation lawsuit against the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and conservative news magazine National Review could proceed, Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, accused his detractors of resorting to old allegations that had been disproved time and time again.
On Thursday, a judge for the D.C. Superior Court ruled in favor of the scientist, denying a motion to dismiss the libel suit.
Mann sued the parties for defamation in 2012, after the CEI published and National Review republished statements accusing Mann of academic fraud and comparing him to convicted child molester and former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, as the CEI’s Rand Simberg put it, “except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.”
Judge Frederick H. Weisberg found that while “opinions and rhetorical hyperbole” are protected speech under the First Amendment, statements that call into question a scientist’s work could be understood as factual assertions that go to the “heart of scientific integrity.”