- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Liberals are hot under the collar, but this has more to do with the election than the planet warming up. The presidential candidates didn’t say a word about global warming during the debates, so advocates of that theory are looking for a bit of attention.

Late last month, Penn State climate professor Michael Mann turned to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to sue several individuals who dared satirize his work. Mr. Mann became famous three years ago when leaked Climategate emails referenced Mr. Mann’s “trick” used to “hide the decline” in global temperatures, inspiring countless parodies and scathing commentary.

The global-warming proponent was particularly peeved at a National Review article by columnist Mark Steyn and a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) blog post containing verbal jabs labeling his work as fraudulent. “It is one thing to attempt to engage in discussion about debatable topics,” wrote Mr. Mann in his complaint. “It is quite another to discredit consistently validated scientific research through the professional and personal defamation of a Nobel Prize recipient.”

The latter statement came as something of a surprise to the people who hand out that prestigious award. “Michael Mann has never been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” a spokesman for the Norwegian Nobel Institute told the Washington Examiner. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did receive a collective award in 2007, but Mr. Mann was never singled out for his contributions to the panel.

As truth is a defense to libel, Mr. Mann’s resume puffery doesn’t help his case. Still, the legal threat is being taken seriously. CEI expects to file a formal response to the lawsuit in mid-December and will likely point out that Mr. Mann is a public figure interested in selling a book subtitled “Dispatches From the Front Lines.” Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel, thinks Mr. Mann ought to have a thicker skin. “Folks who choose to go into battle ought to use something other than lawsuits as their weapons,” Mr. Kazman told The Washington Times. “It’s ironic that an advocate of alarmist global warming ends up trying to freeze debate on that topic.”

This isn’t the first time Mr. Mann has turned to the judiciary to silence critics. In 2010, Minnesotans for Global Warming produced a viral YouTube video entitled “Hide the Decline.” Over 600,000 people viewed the animated likeness of Mr. Mann singing lines such as, “Michael Mann thinks he’s so smart, totally inventing the hockey stick chart.” The popular video was pulled after the group received a cease-and-desist letter. “My first reaction was, ‘Wow, I guess I hit a nerve,’” Elmer Beauregard, the video’s creator, told The Washington Times. Mr. Beauregard and his colleagues lacked the resources to mount a proper legal battle, so he is glad National Review and CEI aren’t backing down.

It’s essential for the survival of free speech that the peddlers of half-baked doomsday tales not get away with chilling spirited dissent. Global-warming proponents propagate the myth that “the science is settled” to shut down all possible disagreement. Those who run to a judge and cry about YouTube videos or clever blog posts clearly are not confident in the truth of their position. Mr. Mann’s lawsuit ought to be thrown out.

The Washington Times