Climate Scientist Michael Mann Awarded $1 Million in Defamation Lawsuit Against Conservative Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate scientist Michael Mann has been awarded $1 million by a jury in a defamation case against two conservative writers who compared his work on global warming to that of a convicted child molester. The verdict comes 12 years after Mann originally filed the lawsuit.

Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, gained prominence for his 1998 graph in the journal Nature known as the “hockey stick,” illustrating the rapid warming of the planet. While the graph brought him fame, it also attracted skepticism and criticism from climate change deniers.

The defendants in the case were Rand Simberg, a former fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Mark Steyn, a writer for National Review. In a 2012 blog post, Simberg compared investigations into Mann’s work to the case of Jerry Sandusky, a convicted child molester. Steyn later referenced Simberg’s article and called Mann’s research “fraudulent.”

The trial, held in the District of Columbia, lasted four weeks and concluded with the six-person jury awarding Mann $1 in compensatory damages from each writer. Additionally, Simberg was ordered to pay $1,000 in punitive damages, while Steyn was ordered to pay $1 million.

The case highlights the ongoing divisiveness surrounding climate change in the United States. A recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 91% of Democrats believe climate change is happening, while only 52% of Republicans share the same belief.

Mann’s lawsuit was a response to the damage done to his career and reputation as a result of the defamatory comparisons made by the defendants. The jury’s decision serves as a vindication for Mann, though it remains uncertain how this verdict will impact the larger debate on climate change.

Critics of Mann and his work have long claimed that he manipulated data and engaged in scientific misconduct. However, investigations conducted by Penn State University and others, including The Associated Press, found no evidence of wrongdoing. Despite these findings, attacks on Mann’s research persist, particularly from conservative circles.

This trial comes at a critical time, as the issue of climate change continues to be a contentious and partisan topic. The jury’s decision reflects the need for accountability and respect for scientific research in a time when accurate information about the environment is crucial.