Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Virginia Attorney General joins witch hunt against climate scientist

Climate scientist Michael Mann. geog.psu.eduAttorney General Ken Cuccinelli is demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents from a former professor to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global-warming research.

The civil investigative demand asks for all data and materials presented by former professor Michael Mann when he applied for five research grants from the university. It also gives the school until May 27 to produce all correspondence or e-mails between Mann and 39 other scientists since 1999.

The actions by Republican Cuccinelli (R)— who has sued the federal government over its regulation of greenhouse gases and has become a leading national voice in alleging that scientists have skewed data to show evidence that Earth is warming — were cheered by those on the right, who long have targeted Mann as a leading proponent of the theory.

Mann, who now works at Pennylvania State University, was one of the authors of the “hockey stick” graph, a study that used a variety of data, including tree rings, to chart climate change. His research showed a rapid recent increase in Earth’s temperature.

Mann’s work has been repeatedly targeted by global-warming skeptics, particularly after an e-mail from him referring to a statistical “trick” he used in his research surfaced in leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.
Mann has said the e-mail was taken out of context, and an inquiry by Penn State concluded that there was no evidence that Mann has engaged in efforts to falsify or suppress data.

Mann and several academic groups decried Cuccinelli’sthe subpoena as an unprecedented inquisition that could threaten academic freedom.

“I think he’s simply trying to smear me as part of a larger campaign to discredit my science,” said Mann, who left U.Va. the University of Virginia in 2005.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the American Association of University Professors, said Cuccinelli’s request had “echoes of McCarthyism.”

“It would be incredibly chilling to anyone else practicing in either the same area or in any politically sensitive area,” she said. In an interview, Cuccinelli said the request is part of an “open inquiry” into whether there were “knowing inconsistencies” made by Mann as he sought taxpayer dollars to fund research. …

Cuccinelli tells U.Va. to hand over documents on climate change

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