Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Climate Scientists Send In The Lawyers

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Gets New Backing

PEER Sponsors Effort to Counter Fossil-Fueled Attacks on Climate Scientists

Washington, DC — The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) has found a non-profit home in Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which provides it fiscal sponsorship and logistical support. CSLDF lets scientific colleagues and the public directly help climate scientists protect themselves and their work from industry-funded legal attacks.

In recent years, these legal attacks have intensified, especially against climate scientists. The fund is designed to help scientists like Professor Michael Mann cope with the legal fees that stack up in fighting attempts by climate-skeptic groups to gain access to private emails and other correspondence through lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests at their public universities.

The project is co-directed by physical sciences Professor Scott Mandia of Suffolk County Community College and Joshua Wolfe, co-author of “Climate Change: Picturing the Science.” The Fund started this past fall after Prof. Mandia posted a “Dear Colleague” appeal for support which generated more than $10,000 in less than 24 hours ( To date, CSLDF has raised $25,000. All contributions to CSLDF are tax-deductible.

“Academic salaries are not designed to support ongoing legal expenses in fights with corporate-funded law firms and institutes,” said Prof. Mandia. “These legal battles also have taken many of our brightest scientific minds away from their research.”

“Our goal is not only to defend the scientist but to protect the scientific endeavor,” explained Wolfe. “The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established to make sure that these legal claims are not viewed as an action against one scientist or institution but as actions against the scientific endeavor as a whole.”

In addition to its core mission of defraying legal fees, CSLDF will –

· Educate researchers about their legal rights and responsibilities on issues surrounding their work;

· Serve as a clearinghouse for information related to legal actions taken against scientists; and

· Recruit and assist lawyers representing these scientists.

“The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund dovetails with the mission of PEER – to protect those who protect our environment,” stated PEER executive Director Jeff Ruch. “When individual researchers find themselves under intense legal assault, they often have few resources. Their universities do not necessarily represent their interests and may be disinclined to resist corporate fishing expeditions. We are stepping into this void to provide direct aid to both the scientists and their institutions.”

The original release can be found here.  I am told that this is primarily a U.S. effort, though there are discussions re extending the aid internationally.  There are also efforts to create similar funds in places like Australia.  I don't know if anyone in Canada is working on something like this.

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