Yet another blow against warming “skeptics”: Virginia judge quashed Cuccinelli’s witch hunt


Vivian Paige pulled together early reports and the actual court documents:  A judge in Virginia quashed the subpeona issued by Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia, in a rather blatant attempt to silence a famous scientist working on global warming, Michael Mann.

Rosalind Helderman explained in the Virginia Politics blog of the Washington Post:

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an “objective basis” to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.

Peatross set the subpoena aside without prejudice, meaning Cuccinelli could give the subpoena another try by rewriting the civil demand to better explain the conduct he wishes to investigate. But the judge seemed skeptical of Cuccinelli’s underlying claim about Mann, noting that Cuccinelli’s deputy maintained in a court hearing that the nature of Mann’s fraud was described in subsequent court papers in the case.

“The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann’s work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Peatross wrote.

Also, as suggested earlier here, the judge noted that Cuccinelli’s authority did not extend to four of the five grants questioned, because they were federal grants, not state grants.  (See here, too.)

Comments at Helderman’s article show the fault lines of division on global warming — purely political faultlines.

Since opponents of action against warming so frantically publicized stolen e-mails from researchers late last year, in official proceedings scientists have smacked down skeptics on almost every issue.

Which only means that scientists now sit in the position of Cassandra after Apollo’s curse.

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20 Responses to Yet another blow against warming “skeptics”: Virginia judge quashed Cuccinelli’s witch hunt

  1. […] in Texas, and Washington, D.C., and New York, would also be poring over the piece.  Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia would also be paying attention to it, if he were concerned about […]

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Morgan, it doesn’t matter whether the link works for you. That’s still false.

    That’s the article that was retracted, right? The claims in it, against the scientists, are false claims.

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  3. ++shrug++ Link works for me. Here, I’ll paste it right into the text.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7856474/Amazongate-the-missing-evidence.html

    You said “it’s astounding to me how critics of science just make stuff up” so let’s try this again, Ed.

    xmfclick didn’t make it up, did he?

    Also, I’m noting that when you use the word “science” people need to remember you aren’t really talking about science.

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    I love how you post something claiming it as “proof,” Morgan, without providing any details about what the article is about, nor what the claim is, nor how that provides any light at all on the claim.

    You’ve quoted from the article that was retracted, haven’t you?

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Which of the five questions are answered, Morgan?

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  6. Amazongate: the missing evidence.

    So great was the IPCC’s embarrassment over these revelations that the story moved to a third stage. Various scientists, led by Dr Nepstad, suggested further studies which might justify the claim. But an exhaustive trawl through all the scientific literature on this subject by my colleague Dr Richard North (who was responsible for uncovering “Amazongate” in the first place), has been unable to find a single study which confirms the specific claim made by the IPCC’s 2007 report. If one exists we would very much like to see it.

    Okay, Ed. There ya go. He didn’t make it up.

    So he gets an apology?

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  7. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s astounding to me how critics of science just make stuff up. For example:

    It has since been established that the source/s on which the IPCC based its statements (or the sources on which THEY were based) were NOT peer-reviewed (it all came down to a small educational website aimed at children, put up by an ecology group and taken down five years ago).

    Five investigations have found to the contrary, yet you claim it’s “established.” By whom?

    Which IPCC statements are you referring to? Which claim was not based on peer-reviewed science? What “small educational website?” Which “ecology group?” And if it was taken down five years ago, how do you know?

    I think you’ll be unable to establish any of those points, nor adequately answer any of those questions, honestly.

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  8. xmfclick says:

    (You can find retractions of the claims of falsification from a few of the more reputable press sources — see here, and here, and here — but you cannot find any detail of the alleged lies that has withstood scrutiny.)

    Ed, Ed, Ed … you should check things yourself before believing a sad Australian computer scientist. The Sunday Times story was retracted following a complaint to the UK Press Complaints Commission. The complaint was that the Sunday Times story said the IPCC’s Amazon claims were not based on peer-reviewed evidence, whereas the IPCC said they were. The Sunday Times retracted the story, though other newspapers (e.g. the Telegraph) were not reported to the PCC and did not retract.

    It has since been established that the source/s on which the IPCC based its statements (or the sources on which THEY were based) were NOT peer-reviewed (it all came down to a small educational website aimed at children, put up by an ecology group and taken down five years ago).

    Amusingly, the Sunday Times is now the subject of a PCC complaint to the effect that it has retracted a story on the basis of a falsehood (i.e. in its retraction it said the IPCC’s claims WERE peer-reviewed, when they were NOT), and it may well have to retract the first retraction and re-publish the original story. Well, it made *me* laugh, anyway.

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  9. xmfclick says:

    Oh, come on Ed, you can do better than that …

    1. “the FOI request was denied”: Precisely! Why was it denied? What possible reason could Jones have had for denying it, especially if, as you contend, everything was totally innocent? Answer: Because everything was NOT totally innocent. What other answer could there be? (Jones complained about being hounded by FOI requests; if he had simply published everything, there would have been no need for FOI requests.)

    2. What proof do you have that the emails were stolen? They could have been made public by someone within UEA who had legitimate access to them, and who disagreed with Jones’s decision to deny the FOI requests. The “thief” hasn’t been identified, so you cannot legitimately say that the emails were stolen, if an alternative explanation is available.

    3. “No wrongdoing”: Well, it depends on your definition of wrongdoing. If you think that wrongdoing doesn’t include conspiring with others to bully the editors of scientific journals into denying publication to people who don’t support your views, then maybe the emails don’t show evidence of wrongdoing. Likewise discussing how to tweak data to fit in with your current theory. BTW, I’m curious to know how the emails show wrongdoing on the part of critics of warming.

    4. If the enquiries had been led by Monckton or other prominent sceptics and found Jones, Mann & co guilty you would be screaming “Fix!”. So you shouldn’t be surprised that sceptics scream “Fix!” when the enquiries are led by Muir Russell and others with close ties to those they are investigating and find the subjects innocent. For heaven’s sake, you’re a lawyer and worked in government, you should know how these things operate.

    5. “Any ways…”: Well, this paragraph is just too silly to even bother with.

    6. Mann’s hockey-stick software: I can’t run the numbers because I haven’t got his software and I probably don’t have the time or expertise to configure it (apparently it’s in FORTRAN and I haven’t used FORTRAN for nearly 40 years). However, other people have (e.g. McIntyre) and they say it gives the hockey stick pretty much regardless of what data you give it. Why don’t *you* run it and show the opposite?

    7. “no one has been able to make any other chart”: Yes they have. A straight line fits Mann’s data very well (except for the straight bit in Mann’s graph, where there used to be a medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age).

    8. “still the Earth warms”: That statement is actually the subject of ongoing dispute. Indeed, Phil Jones admitted that there has been NO warming in recent decades, and there actually seems to be a slight cooling. Then there’s the problem of the data sets: the surface stations are not spread evenly over the planet’s surface, many of them are no longer in the same situation they were in in the past, and where corrections have been applied they often appear random. Therefore, a large chunk of the data that purport to show warming are suspect. But you know all this.

    9. “saving the planet”: Jeez, that’s a big claim. Wait, I thought Gordon Brown had already saved the world … oh no, it was a slip of the tongue; it’s Al Gore who’s going to save the planet, with his carbon trading schemes. Certainly saving him from having to worry about the future, with all the dough he’s making. But, since the credit crunch kicked in, things seem to be going a bit pear-shaped, don’t they? Although the Chinese and the Indians never looked as though they were really going to join in (though the Mittal boys worked a nice scam where they got paid 600 million for shutting down a steel plant in the UK and opening an identical one in India — not quite sure how that saved any carbon, but it got them lots of credits).

    Do you *really* think the developing world is going to start installing windmills and driving electric cars? Why would China do that when they’ve got all that coal (that you can switch on and off when you need it)? And all on the basis of computer models written by the UK Met Office who (a) stopped providing one-month weather forecasts because they were so inaccurate and (b) admit that their ‘climate’ models are based on the same software as the one-month ‘weather’ models.

    To paraphrase The Economist — with hindsight, the credit crunch happened because people put too much faith in computer models. Arguably, climate models are far more complicated than financial ones, yet governments are committing billions in an act of faith based on those models — billions which (see Lomborg) could be spent elsewhere with much greater certainty of a desirable outcome.

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  10. Nick K says:

    Since a Medeira California Planned Parenthood clinic was firebombed a week after a mosque in the same city was likewise attacked, I’m sure that Morgan and Lower will argue that there should be no more churches built near those places right? As a display of respect, yes?

    Terrorism is terrorism right? Even if it’s committed by right wing Christians, yes?

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  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Assuming the Earth is warming, dangerously, and that it is within our power to save it, what resource is being denied to the chicken-littles exactly?

    The collective guts to tackle the job. We don’t need half the team trying to pull the sled off the path into the unfrozen lake, and can’t make progress so long as they try.

    Assuming Upton Sinclair was right, and that meat was tainted, what was stopping him from personally cleaning up the mess in 1906? Assuming Teddy Roosevelt was right, and America’s fate in the mid-1890s rode on our ability to modernize the navy, what was to stop him from personally building the battleships? Assuming Szilard was right in 1939, and Germany was indeed working to build an atomic war device, what was to stop Szilard from either sabotaging the effort, or building bomb himself that he could sell to the Allies?

    I don’t think you understand the nature of the problem, nor its worldwide scope.

    We’re on vacation right now

    . . .

    See? There you go. The rest of us worked through the summer without vacation, and when we need guts and brains, you’re off on some beach . . . ;-)

    . . . and every single hotel in which we’ve stayed has had a big ol’ fistful of “Project Planet” placards and propaganda, plastered all over the master suite & bathroom. Can’t even get a damn ceramic mug for my morning coffee anymore. What’s the next step in this effort to save the planet? Where have the hippies been told no? What specifically has been rejected?

    Among other things, we need restrictions on carbon emissions, from both point-source and non-point source polluters. We need controls on the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels from factories and power generators and especially from automobiles. Those emissions must be mitigated. Mitigation isn’t something I can do without you.

    Policies that encourage fossil fuel use at the expense of alternative fuels need to be changed. That requires action from our “Just Say No to America’s Future!” Republicans. If they are going to move, somebody has to stand up to the idiots, blowhards, and lobotomized masses in the Tea Party and slap them to patriotic sensibility.

    There had been a very real possibility of getting China and India, the next biggest polluters on Earth, to sign on to a plan to reduce their emissions, had we had some action to show in Copenhagen last December. You know how that came out: China walked away keeping the rights to rain pollution down on Oregon and the American Midwest, and keep the profits. (Ironic, when you think about it, that the so-called Patriots of the Tea Party handed such a victory to the biggest communist government left. With friends like these . . .)

    Come to think on it, how does it save the planet to drink coffee out of a cup that’s made from anything different at all?

    It would depend on what the cup is made of, what it is used for, and for how many times it is to be used. Paper cups waste forest resources, but they make a great trade off to replace the community cups that used to be strapped to the water jug on inter-city trains during crises of cholera and dysentary. In a given use, a ceramic cup would probably be a better choice than a disposable cup, depending on how much water and energy must be used to clean the cup, versus how much water and energy must be used to manufacture the disposable replacement.

    You’re wise to recognize that the hotel propaganda may not be as advertised. Why don’t you research it and see? The last few times I’ve traveled, the biggest change was the information on how to tell hotel housekeeping that you needed towels laundered, instead of their old practice of just grabbing all of them and laundering every day. That’s an obvious money and energy saver.

    I had said: “Why don’t you know the veracity? All you have to do is run the numbers.”

    Morgan said:

    Laziest piece of sidestepping I’ve see out of you to date. Run the numbers through what? The assertion is that it doesn’t matter what numbers you run. That remains an open question.

    Mann’s methodology is widely available. Others have had no great difficulty making close approximations to his original numbers by going to their own sources.

    If it doesn’t matter what numbers you run, run a bunch. Change the assumptions, use false data, and see what they produce. I’ve been highly amused, and greatly disappointed at the denialists’ insistence that Mann’s numbers were cooked, when his “trick” was to replace tree-ring-projected temperature estimates from 1960 through the 1990s with the actual data. They (and you, I gather) argue that the truth isn’t accurate, that we need to use data we know to be in error, in some sort of politically-correct-gone-mad machination to make global warming appear less serious than it is. In short, Mann’s critics complain that he’s telling too close to the truth.

    You could run numbers to see if you get a hockey-stick regardless. Of course, no one involved who knows math and statistics and physics believes that possible, so no one has actually bothered to run that test and disprove the hypothesis.

    For that matter, no honest critic of warming makes that claim. Why do you suppose that’s so? (Hint: Some people have rerun numbers, and they’re not all Canadians, so their hockey-stick graphs can’t be claimed to be the result of bias.)

    What’s settled is that our climate experts can’t predict weekend weather, and we’re being asked to believe they can nail the planet’s average temperature down to a degree or two in 2050.

    Wrong. Climate experts don’t predict weekend weather — we leave that to meteorologists, and they are the ones who get it wrong. Oddly, they are also the best experts on the side criticizing the science. You stand with those repeatedly in error.

    Worse, I’ll wager it hadn’t occurred to you that its your guys who screw it up.

    Climatologists and others who predict global warming aren’t looking at day-to-day fluctuations, but instead look at trends over decades and longer. For 100 years now the Department of Agriculture has tracked the warming of growing regions across the U.S. If global warming is false, isn’t it astounding that Al Gore managed to convince 100 million acres of wheat and 80 million acres of corn to believe him, and grow differently? The man must be a god to get plants across the U.S. and around the world to do his bidding.

    Either that, or you’re ignoring the facts. Al Gore a god? Or warming denialists ignoring the facts? Which solution would Occam’s Razor point toward? [I know, you don’t like “denialist;” and yet, in yours and others’ denial of the evidence, I’m not finding any other non-profane word that fits so well.]

    Your scientists have been caught falsifying the science, re-defining “peer review” to exclude whatever opinions aren’t the same as theirs.

    And right there we catch you in a lie. Five investigations found no falsification of data by the scientists who warn of global warming. No investigation has found any falsification.

    It’s just breath taking that you’d try to hoax us by making a false claim that they made false claims. That’s absolutely untrue.

    Disagree? You need to make two showings: 1. What statement do you claim was false, intentionally, and 2. What are the facts determined by hard research that contradict the claim?

    (You can find retractions of the claims of falsification from a few of the more reputable press sources — see here, and here, and here — but you cannot find any detail of the alleged lies that has withstood scrutiny.)

    Their logical argument then boils down to one of (not my invention): “Everyone who agrees with us, agrees with us!”

    Unfortunately for the planet, the actual numbers of warming agree with them. Some of the more excitable scientists warned that we had passed the point of no return about 2005. Now many of the moderates say it’s probably too late to avert major catastrophe, but we may be able to save a portion of humans to start over.

    You disagree, of course. Dylan was right: “Your old road is rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand.”

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  12. Figures the warming denier would quote The Screwtape Letters, the world’s dreckiest Christian book.

    You attacked the source.

    I claim victory.

    Like

  13. Ed,

    Assuming the Earth is warming, dangerously, and that it is within our power to save it, what resource is being denied to the chicken-littles exactly?

    We’re on vacation right now, and every single hotel in which we’ve stayed has had a big ol’ fistful of “Project Planet” placards and propaganda, plastered all over the master suite & bathroom. Can’t even get a damn ceramic mug for my morning coffee anymore. What’s the next step in this effort to save the planet? Where have the hippies been told no? What specifically has been rejected?

    Come to think on it, how does it save the planet to drink coffee out of a cup that’s made from anything different at all?

    Why don’t you know the veracity? All you have to do is run the numbers.

    Laziest piece of sidestepping I’ve see out of you to date. Run the numbers through what? The assertion is that it doesn’t matter what numbers you run. That remains an open question. What’s settled is that our climate experts can’t predict weekend weather, and we’re being asked to believe they can nail the planet’s average temperature down to a degree or two in 2050.

    Your scientists have been caught falsifying the science, re-defining “peer review” to exclude whatever opinions aren’t the same as theirs. Their logical argument then boils down to one of (not my invention): “Everyone who agrees with us, agrees with us!”

    Like

  14. Ed Darrell says:

    If those emails had been released either freely or as a reult of a Freedom of Informationi request, would that have made them “stolen”? Oh, but of course, Phil Jones doesn’t like FOI requests …

    They weren’t released freely — the FOI request was denied. They were stolen.

    Plus, they show no wrongdoing, except by critics of warming. Plus, no fewer than four investigations show the only wrongdoing was by the people who stole them, and their supporters among the warming denialists.

    Any way one cuts it, the e-mails show nothing but science on the part of the scientists, and no case against global warming or the need to act soon to fix it.

    And then there’s the matter (reported; I guess we don’t really know how true it is) that Mann’s software produced the hockey stick even if fed with random numbers …

    Why don’t you know the veracity? All you have to do is run the numbers.

    Oddly, with all the complaints about the “hockey stick,” no one has been able to make any other chart, honestly, from the data available through Mann, nor Hadley, nor redoing the data from scratch.

    All this fiddling to justify wrongdoing, and still the Earth warms, dangerously. When do you guys stop the diversionary tactics and try to make the case against saving the planet that you keep snidely insisting should be made?

    Like

  15. xmfclick says:

    If those emails had been released either freely or as a reult of a Freedom of Informationi request, would that have made them “stolen”? Oh, but of course, Phil Jones doesn’t like FOI requests …

    And then there’s the matter (reported; I guess we don’t really know how true it is) that Mann’s software produced the hockey stick even if fed with random numbers …

    Ed’s site is very interesting, and I’d hate to be up against him in a court of law, he argues a case very well indeed. But that’s what lawyers do. At the same time, he appears, like Jake and Ellwood, to be on a Mission From God. However, he should not criticise other people for not being experts in a field on which they comment when he himself isn’t one either.

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  16. If those stolen emails were instead a behind the scenes look at the science of, oh, solving a problem in classifying different types of supernovae, then nobody would think they were at all devious. They would be accepted for what they are, people hashing out technical problems in the privacy of their own workspaces.

    Like

  17. James Napier says:

    Incredible insight.

    Beware of the man who says there is no room for improvement. Imagine if our caveman anscestors adopted, then stuck with that stance. Quite likely right now, I would be picking bugs out of my sons shaggy body coat. My wife would be plucking her eyebrow with a wishbone from this mornings breakfast.

    I would like to thanks those early cavemen. Thanks for being humble, and not resting on your laurels. Laurels that included walking upright, mating inside a cave, and growing a beard…on their back.

    Like

  18. Ed Darrell says:

    Of course, Mann doesn’t use Screwtape’s line to Wormwood. Mann instead says “Don’t take my word for it — check the numbers.”

    Like that congenital untruth-teller who leads the anti-science forces, Christopher “Jack-Kennedy-rose-from-the-dead-to-ban-DDT” Monckton, when it comes to denying science, no falsehood is too small for an anti-warming advocate to resist.

    Like

  19. Jeffrey Shallit says:

    Figures the warming denier would quote The Screwtape Letters, the world’s dreckiest Christian book.

    Like

  20. Reminds me of Screwtape’s letter to Wormwood: “You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game. ”

    Professor Mann’s history suggests disclosure of any e-mail archive to goeth before a humiliating fall, so I can recognize that this is a huge victory. Gotta keep the science a secret. When our own tax dollars are forcibly taken from us and leveraged to destroy the economic marketplace through which we earned them in the first place, it is VERY important that the whole process be kept in the dark so we can’t see how it works.

    It makes us free! Or something.

    Like

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