Climate spin: Behind-the-scenes emails show profs evading questions

ShuklaJagadish Shukla, Professor, Climate Dynamics, George Mason University (George Mason University)Newly released internal e-mails show George Mason University climate professors plotting a petition calling on government to prosecute skeptics of global warming using RICO laws designed to go after the mob. They got 20 scientists to sign their petition and sent it to government officials before withdrawing in the face of controversy.

The new emails show GMU professors Jagadish Shukla and Edward Maibach discussing everything from how to craft their petition to appeal to conservatives, to getting warnings from others that the petition would go over poorly, to evading media questions.

In the emails, the professors decided to ignore questions from about why the lead petition author, Jagadish Shukla, used government grants to give himself and his family some $500,000 in salary and benefits in 2014 — which reported in October. The professors decided to reach out to the Washington Post instead.

“They were running a well-used page in their playbook … get the legacy media to play defense for them,” Chris Horner, who forced the public release of the emails by filing a “Freedom of Information Act” request, told

The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens to demand to see the official correspondence of government employees (George Mason University is public.) Horner works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a think tank that is skeptical that global warming is a serious problem.

Horner says he feel vindicated by the release of the emails, because George Mason University officials initially told him that there were “no records” of the professors discussing RICO prosecution in their official capacity.

But Horner and CEI proved that there were such emails by first obtaining some emails from professors at other universities who had corresponded on the subject with the George Mason University professors (who used their work emails.)

Armed with that proof, Horner and CEI sued George Mason University to release the emails, and a Judge’s ruling on May 13th made it happen.

The emails show GMU professors Shukla and Maibach planning to make a media splash.

“If we can find one co-signer in every one of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts, we will end up sending the letter to every member of Congress — which would be spectacular. The letter will get lots of media attention,” Professor Maibach wrote Shukla while planning the letter.

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