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The Hockey Stick On Trial

Courtesy of IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/fig2-21.htm

Courtesy of IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/fig2-21.htm

Is “purposeful avoidance of truth sufficient to establish actual malice” as Eli Rabett posits? This question and more is currently being played out in the DC Court of Appeals in the case of Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review vs. Mann. Elizabeth Harrington explains how Penn State professor Michael E Mann’s libel lawsuit against conservatives has now gone into it’s third year.

Back in October 2012 Mann filed a lawsuit against and CEI and NR for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Climate change deniers were taken to court by Mann for false and libelous claims of fraudulent misrepresentation of his scientific research, and his best known “hockey stick” graph (above).

As Mother Jones writer Mariah Blake noted, “In 2012 – after writers for the National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him [Mann] of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky – climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit.”

I am no scientist, so I rely on the integrity of those who are. The landmark 2001 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that featured the “hockey stick” concluded that “the increase in temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years.” Also, “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”

There are lots of groups out there that purport to have a balance approach to climate and energy, but if one looks carefully at who are their supporters one can surmise their bias. For example, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions board of Directors has the following companies or institutes represented: Barclays Capital, Environmental Law Institute, Northeast Utilities, Royal Dutch Shell, General Electric Company, Halcyon Energy Investors L.P., Bingham McCutchen LLP, and Entergy.

It’s finally raining in northern California, which causes some of us to forget that we are still in a state of drought. Nature Climate Change has concluded that “increased heating from global warming may not cause droughts, but it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense.” Destruction due to flooding from sea level rises is but one of the issues.

So what’s really at stake here? Climate deniers are arguing that first amendment freedom of speech is in danger, but I am more concerned that purposefully muddying the integrity of our best scientific findings about climate change (to protect corporate interests) has unconscionably put our world ecosystem in dire jeopardy and is more culpable.

It is not actually the “hockey stick” that is on trial but integrity of those who purposefully obfuscate.