Global Warming Alarmist Sues Scientists, Saying Academic Critiques Of His Work Are ‘Defamation’

If we have such an overwhelming scientific “consensus” about the supposed threat of catastrophic man-made global warming—and about the political and economic solutions to it—then why do advocates have to sue scientists to prevent them from questioning it? That’s the question raised by a $10 million lawsuit filed by Stanford engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson accusing other scientists of defamation for critiquing his scientific work in favor of “renewable energy.”

That’s not how science works. That’s not how any of this is supposed to work.

Jacobson made a name for himself and became something of a media celebrity for publishing a study in 2015 that claimed the United States could provide 100 percent of its energy needs from wind, solar, and hydroelectric power by 2050—and at a lower cost than with fossil fuels.

It was a ridiculous claim, for reasons I outlined in response to the Obama administration’s now-abandoned “Clean Power Plan” fantasy. It’s not just that wind and solar aren’t reliable sources of energy, requiring massive fossil fuel backup systems or extremely expensive energy storage to compensate when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. The deeper problem is the enormous investment in materials and energy required to build a whole new infrastructure for wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. This pushes the economics up to and well beyond the point of diminishing returns, where you are expending far more energy to build the infrastructure than you can ever get back from it.

As one study put it:

Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fiber, neodymium, shipping, and haulage, etc., etc. would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms—and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them, and so on.

It’s a scientific and technological Catch-22.

Earlier this year, a group of 21 experts led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Christopher Clack definitively debunked Jacobson’s claims in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper’s abstract sums u the case: “In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant shortcomings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policymakers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.”

Notice, by the way, that the issue here isn’t just about pushing “renewable energy” as an alternative to fossil fuels. Jacobson was specifically attempting to exclude nuclear power from the energy mix, which is one of the reasons he got pushback from some of the saner environmentalists who accept nuclear as the only remotely viable alternative to fossil fuels.

So how does Jacobson respond to having his article critiqued by other scientists in the peer-reviewed scientific literature? He sued Christopher Clack and the National Academy of Sciences, specifically claiming they are defaming him by asserting that he made a “modeling error.”

Ironically, Jacobson is the same thin-skinned jerk who initially responded to the debunking of his report by going on that well-known peer-reviewed scientific forum, Twitter, to declare that the critique was “intentionally scientifically fraudulent with falsified data.” But sure, he’s really concerned that scientists might be defaming each other.

More to the point, criticism of Jacobson’s use of models is not defamation. The law on libel, slander, and defamation covers maliciously false statements of fact, not evaluations or opinions. Describing the use of a scientific model as erroneous is not merely an opinion but a very complex opinion that can only be properly evaluated by experts. So under any circumstances, this would be an abuse of defamation law to suppress freedom of speech. But it is even more egregious to apply this to scientific debate.

Scientists already have well-established forums and procedures for debating competing models and hypotheses. They have peer-reviewed journals in which they publish findings that reviewers deem to be of adequate scientific quality. Then other scientists publish their peer-reviewed critiques—and readers draw on their own scientific expertise to draw their own conclusions. These decisions are made by scientists, without the aid of lawyers.

Jacobson is trying to short-circuit that process. The goal is to harass his scientific rivals with frivolous lawsuits. Even if his suit doesn’t win, you can see the deterrent effect. The next time rival scientists consider debunking a sloppy paper, they will think twice about whether they can afford the lawyers’ fees.

It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Another celebrity global warming scientist, Michael Mann, filed a similar defamation lawsuit against writers who disparaged him for his statistically manipulated “hockey stick” graph of historical temperatures. That case tried to establish the idea that it is a violation of Mann’s rights to “question his intellect and reasoning.”

So calling in the lawyers to assert your immunity from questioning is becoming a trend. Backing it up is all the rhetoric we hear about how anyone who doubts the evil of fossil fuels or questions the viability of the future environmentalist utopia is a wicked “science denier.” It has even become acceptable to demand that such “deniers” be thrown in jail. So far, Jacobson’s effort has not been all that well-received. But the talk about prosecuting global warming skeptics provides the ideological support for an attempt to shut down normal scientific discourse.

Environmentalists have to face up to the fact that they have a problem with unscientific zealotry, but I doubt they’ll be able to do it. The whole point of the global warming scare is to take an uncertain and unproven scientific hypothesis and insist on it as an absolute scientific certainty requiring immediate action—which just so happens to be a very specific agenda that aligns perfectly with a certain political outlook. Then they have to demonize all skeptics as enemies of science in the pay of nefarious special interest groups.

An attack on free scientific inquiry is already baked into the global warming cause. It is the reigning culture of the scientific establishment on this issue. So don’t be surprised when it produces unhinged zealots who try to use the power of the state or harassment by frivolous lawsuits to subvert the rules of open scientific debate.

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Comments (8)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Global Warming/Climate Change is the biggist scam in the entire history or the human race like with the Trojan Horse Big Brother is hiding inside

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Edmonton Al

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    Somebody please tell that moron Mark Jacobson that science is NOT based on consensus, but facts.
    There is absolutely no proof that CO2 causes global warming, hence climate change.
    Come on Mark, show us your proof.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      G

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      “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

      Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

      There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

      Dr. Micheal Chrichton

      Reply

    • Avatar

      David Lewis

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      This is a good place to repost something I have put on this site in the past. Of course science is not a matter of consensus but facts that match theories. However, in the social sciences it is different. These areas of studies work on the basis of consensus. I was once told by a professor in one of these areas that I should have a certain view point because everyone in the published literature did. I think it is safe to assume that more liberals are educated in the social sciences than in real science. They come from disciplines where things are decided by consensus. That explains why they put so much weight on it in the area of climate change. I speculate that most are unaware that the studies concluding that 97% of the scientists support the climate change agenda were fraudulent.

      Reply

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    Amber

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    Ah a hurt feelings lawsuit .
    This is the final phase of the oh so scary global warming industry
    collapse .
    Renewables are appropriately named because they almost always are businesses that rely on a never ending renewable supply of tax payer money to keep them afloat . Mind you even that doesn’t do it
    but certainly long enough for the top dogs to cash out rich .
    No one cares about sniveling whiners who can’t handle having their work reviewed . The scientific method dictates that is exactly what is required . Now if they called the guy a dirt bag liar well that is another matter .
    When the money dries up there are going to be a lot of hurt feeling law suits because as he “renewable” industry collapse people are going to need cash till the job in a coal mine opens up .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    JayPee

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    Mark Z Jacobsen
    Is he a scientist ?
    Since when does ANY scientist arrogantly hold himself

    BEYOND CRITICISM

    I’m sorry I’ve said this
    I didn’t realize

    Mark Z. Jacobson

    was G-D !

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Him and his lawyer need to be banned from america were getting tired of these leeches sucking off our natiopn and its citizens like this

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Funny how the planet savers never seem to support one of the only large supply options . nuclear . If they were really serious they would not be fixated on destroying the many benefits that flow from fossil fuel use .
    Even if one accepts that there is potentially some nominal warming effect due to fossil fuel use no one ever models what the quality of life on earth would otherwise be without fossil fuels .
    All we hear are doom and gloom stories of rising seas and scary
    environmental speculation . Even if seas rise somebody wins and who cares if the Hollywood hot pants have to move their beach furniture every decade or so . Would anyone complain about a warmer Canada , or Greenland ?
    The renewable interests are just too transparent and as Tesla just found out tax payers are not their bank. Besides the “renewables ” are not so squeaky clean . What is the cost of 30,000 fuel poverty deaths per year caused by ridiculous subsidies to uneconomic corporate welfare bums . Screw them and their bought and paid for
    settled science fiction .

    Reply

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