Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Investigation Of Climate Scientist Threatens Research

Cuccinelli, who believes the jury is still out on whether climate change is caused by human activity, has said he is investigating whether Mann defrauded taxpayers when seeking state grant money for his research.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) May 26, 2010
The AAAS Board of Directors has asked Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli to either justify his investigation of climate researcher Michael Mann or end it, calling it "an apparently political action" that could have a chilling effect on scientific research.

The position was underscored in a commentary by Alan I. Leshner, the AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of Science, published 23 May in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Leshner wrote that Cuccinelli's investigation "goes beyond the bounds of appropriate oversight, and could threaten the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas."

On 23 April, Cuccinelli requested detailed information from the University of Virginia on five grants for climate change research involving Mann while he was on the school's faculty from 1999 to 2005. Mann is currently director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

The AAAS Board, while acknowledging the responsibility of state and federal officials to oversee the proper use of grant funds, said Cuccinelli's request "goes far beyond what is needed to determine financial propriety, including substantive emails with colleagues, computer codes, and the detailed data resulting from Dr. Mann's work." The lack of a clear rationale for the inquiry suggests that it "may be aimed at something other than financial malfeasance," the Board said in its 18 May statement.

The AAAS Board said scientific progress occurs largely through a self-correcting system of peer review, shared results and critical evaluation of new data and ideas. It noted that thousands of studies, including Mann's work, have "produced a growing mountain of evidence leading to the scientific consensus on human-induced global climate change." AAAS and other leading scientific organizations have affirmed that consensus.

Cuccinelli, who believes the jury is still out on whether climate change is caused by human activity, has said he is investigating whether Mann defrauded taxpayers when seeking state grant money for his research.

"Mr. Cuccinelli's investigation, unless based on a much more substantial body of evidence than is apparent, could inappropriately inhibit the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and thus limit the progress of science," the AAAS Board said.

Scientists and policymakers may disagree with the scientific conclusions of Mann and others, the Board said, but there are well-established means to resolve disagreements over research results within the scientific community. "Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations simply for providing scientific results that may be controversial, particularly on high-profile topics of interest to society," the Board said.

The American Association of University Professors, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, and scholars from around the nation have criticized Cuccinelli's demand for documents related to Mann's research. He has given the University of Virginia until 27 May to respond.

The school's Faculty Senate Executive Council said Cuccinelli's action "directly threatens academic freedom," and faculty members have urged the school's Board of Visitors to challenge the attorney general's action in court.

Mann has been a target of global warming skeptics, both for his "hockey stick" graph on global temperature trends (work upheld by a U.S. National Research Council panel) and for comments in e-mails stolen from a British climate research group. A Penn State inquiry on the e-mails found no evidence Mann had tried to falsify or suppress data. Even some ardent climate skeptics, such as long-time Mann critic Steve McIntyre, have condemned Cuccinelli's action.

On 7 May, Science published a letter from 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences decrying attacks on climate research. The letter was drafted before Cuccinelli's action, but water expert Peter Gleick, one of the authors, told the Washington Post that the attorney general's demand "is precisely the kind of attack on climate scientists that the letter criticizes."

Read the Board's 2006 statement on climate change.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Link Between 'Climate Footprints' And Mass Mammal Extinction
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) May 26, 2010
An international team of scientists have discovered that climate change played a major role in causing mass extinction of mammals in the late quaternary era, 50,000 years ago. Their study, published in Evolution, takes a new approach to this hotly debated topic by using global data modelling to build continental 'climate footprints.' "Between 50,000 and 3,000 years before present (BP) 65% ... read more

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement