Renowned conservative columnist Mark Steyn has been ordered by a Washington, D.C. jury to pay controversial global warming activist Michael Mann a whopping $1M to settle the Al Gore acolyte’s claim that he was defamed in one of Steyn’s National Review columns.
Mann, the progenitor of the infamous “hockey stick” graph invoked to sell various climate change policies, sued Steyn referring to his climate change research as “fraudulent.”
Competitive Enterprise Institute science writer Rand Simberg, whose blog post Steyn linked to, took the criticism a step further, comparing Mann’s approach to scholarly research to the way former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky approached children.
“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data,” Simberg said.
Mann claimed that, as a result of the criticisms, he had lost out on several grant opportunities, a claim that Steyn, who represented himself during the trial, said lacked evidence.
Steyn has been ordered to pay $1 million in punitive damages for his post on National Review’s website, while Simberg is to pay $1,000 for his post on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s site, with both also owing $1 each in compensatory damages to Mann.
Steyn has said he intends to appeal the order.
The verdict, delivered after a three-week trial beginning in mid-January, centers on accusations levied against Mann’s research, notably his “hockey stick” graph, which claimed to illustrate a sharp rise in global temperatures over the last century.
Mann’s work became the target of heightened scrutiny after the release of a trove of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.
Those emails showed climate researchers colluding on how to suppress papers that dissented from the prevailing views of man-caused global warming from peer-reviewed journals. They also offered insight into how climate researchers, including Mann, used tree-ring analysis to speculate about global temperature trends from 1,000 A.D. to modern times.
The decision against Steyn has significant implications for the discourse surrounding climate change and the protection of free speech, especially concerning the critique of public figures and their work.
The jury concluded that Simberg and Steyn’s statements were not only false but made with malicious intent, a finding that could set a precedent for how similar cases are approached in the future.
This case has not only been a battle over the reputations and rights of the individuals involved but also a reflection of broader societal debates on climate science, free expression, and the accountability of public discourse.