Climate Scientist Michael Mann Awarded $1M in Defamation Case Against Conservative Writers

Washington, D.C. – Climate scientist Michael Mann has been awarded $1 million by a jury in a defamation trial against two conservative writers. The lawsuit, filed 12 years ago, was prompted by the writers’ comparison of Mann’s global warming depictions to those of a convicted child molester. Mann, a professor of climate science at the University of Pennsylvania, gained prominence for his “hockey stick” graph illustrating a warming planet. However, his work also attracted skeptics, including the defendants in this case.

The trial centered around comments made by the writers regarding Mann’s research. In 2012, one of the writers published a blog post comparing investigations into Mann’s work to the case of Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Penn State University convicted of sexually assaulting children. The other writer referenced this article in his own piece, further fueling the controversy.

The jury found that the writers had made false statements and awarded compensatory damages of $1 each. In addition, punitive damages of $1,000 and $1 million were awarded to the defendants, one for each writer respectively. The jury determined that their statements had been made with ill will and intent to harm Mann.

While Mann expressed satisfaction with the verdict, one of the writers, Mark Steyn, who represented himself in the trial, plans to appeal the $1 million award. Steyn’s manager stated that the punitive damages would undergo “due process scrutiny.”

During the trial, Mann argued that the blog posts had caused him to lose grant funding. The defendants, however, claimed that Mann’s career had only flourished since the comments were made. The discrepancy between the compensatory and punitive damages could result in a reduction by the judge.

The case has attracted attention from the scientific community, as misinformation about climate change continues to spread on social media platforms. Advocates hope that the verdict serves as a deterrent against defamation and encourages a return to civil conversations based on facts. Mann also plans to appeal a previous ruling that found the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute not liable for defamation.

This trial highlights the ongoing debate surrounding climate change and the responsibilities of writers in discussing scientific research. Scientists like Mann face challenges in countering false narratives and reclaiming their professional reputations. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly urgent, accurate and responsible reporting on the issue becomes paramount.