Defending Free Speech in Climate Research

(p. A17) The Climate Inquisition began with Michael Mann’s 2012 lawsuit against critics of his “hockey stick” research–a holy text to climate alarmists. The suggestion that Prof. Mann’s famous diagram showing rapid recent warming was an artifact of his statistical methods, rather than an accurate representation of historical reality, was too much for the Penn State climatologist and his acolytes to bear.
Among their targets (and our client in his lawsuit) was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank prominent for its skeptical viewpoint in climate-policy debates. Mr. Mann’s lawsuit seeks to put it, along with National Review magazine, out of business. Four years on, the courts are still pondering the First Amendment values at stake. In the meantime, the lawsuit has had its intended effect, fostering legal uncertainty that chills speech challenging the “consensus” view.
. . .
That is why we are establishing the Free Speech in Science Project to defend the kind of open inquiry and debate that are central to scientific advancement and understanding. The project will fund legal advice and defense to those who need it, while executing an offense to turn the tables on abusive officials. Scientists, policy organizations and others should not have to fear that they will be the next victims of the Climate Inquisition–that they may face punishment and personal ruin for engaging in research and advocating their views.
The principle of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court recognized in Dennis v. United States (1951), is that “speech can rebut speech, propaganda will answer propaganda, free debate of ideas will result in the wisest governmental policies.” For that principle to prevail–in something less than the 350 years it took for the Catholic Church to acknowledge its mistake in persecuting Galileo–the inquisition of those breaking from the climate “consensus” must be stopped.

For the full commentary, see:
DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and ANDREW M. GROSSMAN. “Punishing Climate-Change Skeptics; Some in Washington want to unleash government to harass heretics who don’t accept the ‘consensus.'” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., March 24, 2016): A17.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 23, 2016.)

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