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COMMENTARY: Climate Change on Trial – Climate Had Its Day in Court – Deidra Garyk


These translations are done via Google Translate

by Deidra Garyk

A very important court case went on in Washington, DC over the past few weeks. You may not have heard because there was not much talk about it in the legacy news until the verdict was read. Fortunately, a daily podcast series “Climate Change on Trial” by Unreported Story Society documented it using actors to read transcript testimony.

The case: broadcaster and free speech advocate Mark Steyn and little-known scientist Rand Simberg were sued by climate activist Michael Mann for defamation. The allegedly defamatory comments were made in two blog posts/ articles written in 2012 that were critical of the validity of the “hockey stick” climate alarmism graph and Penn State University’s investigation of Mann’s credibility and professional conduct resulting from the 2009 “Climategate” revelations.

As a refresher, the “Climategate” scandal started after the University of East Anglia was hacked. Emails were leaked that exposed the internal communication of climate scientists and allegedly divulged that data had been manipulated to perpetuate climate hysteria by exaggerating the findings.

Mann alleged that he lost out on millions of dollars in grant money due to the two articles. However, it was never clearly articulated how much grant money was lost and, if losses were incurred, that they were the direct result of the articles. (for context, Simberg’s article got 17,000 views over eight years.)

When scrutinized under oath, Mann and his lawyers had to revise one “lost” grant value down from nine million dollars to just over $100,000. There were so many “mistakes” in the information provided to the jury related to the value of lost grant awards that the judge accused the plaintiff of having a “disjointed” case and of providing “stunningly misleading” documents to the jury.

Mann’s legal team did not make any direct connections to damages and the critical writings, only vague correlations. One of his witnesses even accidentally revealed that Mann was left off a project because of the reputational harm caused by being implicated in the “Climategate” scandal.

Nonetheless, that did not stop Mann from waging a frequently delayed 12-year legal attack on Steyn and Simberg. Testimony revealed that Mann has not paid a penny for his legal support nor is he indebted to pay at a later date. It was never revealed who funded the ongoing litigation of very expensive lawyers – upwards of $2,500/ hour! But it was not Mann.

The defence – Steyn and Simberg – brought in an impressive list of witnesses. They included Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr., Ross McKitrick, Steve McIntyre (a Canadian and long-time critic of the hockey stick graph), and a statistician who explained how Mann manipulated the data to produce the hockey stick graph.

There were revelations about Mann throughout the podcast. He is presented as angry, petulant, and unprofessional. He appears to spend a majority of his time on social media bullying anyone who disagrees with him – one wonders when he has time to do any climate science. In his communications, he accused Judith Curry of sleeping her way to the top; he called scientists who disagreed with him “human filth” and “white supremacists”; and he called Steyn an “odious excuse for a human being.”

The trial revealed a lack of integrity, both with climate science and with Mann. He falsely claimed to have won the Nobel Peace Prize – he didn’t. But false accusations and false accolades have not stopped the most famous of the climate alarmists from associating with Mann and promoting his work. People like Leonardo Decaprio, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore.

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Mann’s legal team put the infamous “hockey stick” graph and climate change on trial, rather than defamatory harm. The jury somewhat agreed with them.

In a shocking decision, the jury found in Mann’s favour. They found both Steyn and Simberg liable for defamation. Simberg was ordered to pay $1,000 in punitive damages and Steyn was ordered to pay one million dollars in punitive damages. The jury awarded zero dollars in compensatory damages, which contradicts their punitive damages award.

Steyn has vowed to take the fight to the next step.

The plaintiff’s case was clearly not about defamation, as the evidence was not there to prove Mann suffered damages, other than an angry look from an unknown, anonymous person in a grocery store and a few surly emails.  The case was in part about silencing free speech of opposing views using vexatious litigation of regular people (i.e. non-climate scientists) who dared question “elite” scientists. The process is often the punishment, after all.

More than that, the case was also about truth and social conduct. Truth takes courage and integrity to spread. But without truth all other principles and values falter as truth is the foundation. Twelve years of expensive litigation was an attempt to muzzle the truth for political gains. In this case, it was the suppression of conservative commentators and publications (Steyn’s article was published in National Review, a prominent conservative publication.)

A society cannot function effectively if the truth is repressed using dishonest, threatening tactics.

The verdict demonstrated the tribalism and conduct of the climate cult. The day after the verdict, legacy media outlets released articles heralding the win, even though they had ignored the trial up until that point. If the decision had been different, I wonder if they would have ignored it too.

The verdict was not the outcome I had hoped for, nor what I believe was just; however, the exposure of the trial evidence was important for the public climate debate. It will continue on in the court of public opinion, thanks to podcasts like Climate Change on Trial by courageous podcasters Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney of Unreported Story Society.

There is not enough talk about “Climategate”, so here are a few contrarian articles you can read here and here and here.

Deidra Garyk has been working in the energy industry for almost 20 years. She is currently the Manager, ESG & Sustainability at an oilfield service company. Prior to that, she worked in roles of varying seniority at exploration and production companies in joint venture contracts where she was responsible for working collaboratively with stakeholders to negotiate access to pipelines, compressors, plants, and batteries.

Outside of her professional commitments, Deidra is an energy advocate and thought leader who researches, writes, and speaks about energy policy and advocacy to promote balanced, honest, fact-based conversations. 

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