Academia Stunned As Science Anti-Free Speech Neurosis Flares…”Eminent Scientists” Sued Over Dissident Paper!

At his Environmental Progress site here, Michael Shellenberger writes that Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson is suing a “prestigious team of scientists for Debunking 100% renewables.

This reminds us of the 17 or so attorneys general who sought to use the US Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in order to go after and silence climate science skeptics, accusing them of perpetuating fraud by daring to question the flakey science underpinning the manmade global warming theory.

Shellenberger wrote that professor Mark Z. Jacobson had “filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar.”

From Jacobson's complaint 

Cropped from Jacobson’s complaint. Source Environmental Progress.  

“Speechless”…climate-energy debate needs to get “a direction of sanity”

Climatologist Prof. Judith Curry at her Climate Etc site wrote that she was “speechless”, adding:

In many ways, this is much worse than any of Michael Mann’s lawsuits alleging defamation of character [link] — Jacobson’s lawsuit seeks to settle a genuine scientific disagreement in the courts.”

However, Prof. Curry does not see “a good ending” for Jacobson: “There will undoubtedly be a countersuit and he stands to lose a lot of money (not just his lawsuit)”.

Many observers feel this is just the latest attempt to shut down free speech within the realm of science — a highly worrisome development that reminds us of brutal totalitarian regimes.

Curry notes: “Possibly, there will be sufficient backlash against this that will steer the overall climate-energy debate back towards a direction of sanity.”

This can only be hoped for.

Blogger Shellenberger calls the move by Jacobson “unprecedented”, adding:

Scientific disagreements must be decided not in court but rather through the scientific process. We urge Stanford University, Stanford Alumni, and everyone who loves science and free speech to denounce this lawsuit.”

This of course would be expected from almost any higher education institution in any other free-speech-abiding, democratic state. But with flakey, culturally neurotic California, nothing can be ruled out.


8 responses to “Academia Stunned As Science Anti-Free Speech Neurosis Flares…”Eminent Scientists” Sued Over Dissident Paper!”

  1. yonason

    The whole global warming movement, and it’s bastard child “renewable energy,” are rotten to their cores.

  2. Kurt in Switzerland

    I reckon Jacobson has become enamored with himself as a result of his popularity, based on unsubstantiated claims that all electricity in the USA could be supplied by renewables. He is personally invested in the belief. So he reckons he could only lose if he were to remain quiet. Eventually, common sense will catch up, meaning he will lose even more. Let him go for it.

    It is interesting to observe how groups such as the Sierra Club and other “Tree Huggers” have been silent on Jacobson. For just a couple decades ago, virtually EVERY new proposed hydroelectric project was VEHEMENTLY opposed by those “defending Mother Nature”.

    But attempting to design an electrical power resource system based upon intermittent renewables (absent nuclear and fossil fuels for backup) would necessitate MASSIVE environmental encroachment. Just a rough comparison of nameplate power capacity per unit land area makes it immensely clear that renewables are two to three orders of magnitude less efficient than nuclear or fossil fuels.

    Apart from that, the court system is unqualified to determine scientific veracity of anything. They should reject the suit on those grounds. Otherwise, this would set a very dangerous precedent.

  3. Kurt in Switzerland

    Jacobson is a “rock star” of the CleanTech movement. He is heavily invested in his brash conjecture. This is a matter of belief. Apostates will not be tolerated. He probably figured he had no other choice, lest he find himself and his wild conjectures confined to the rubbish heap of failures even during his own lifetime.

    It must hurt to see oneself fall from hero to idiot in a matter of years. Science and Engineering are brutal that way. But big claims require big evidence. This is just reality catching up with silly claims.

    The courts should recuse themselves as lacking competence to settle a scientific dispute (or side with the defendants, as Jacobson’s conjecture lacks evidence, but is heavily dependent on wishful thinking).

    1. yonason

      From what you write, Kurt, it occurred to me… that while the previous generation broke the sound barrier, to ours goes the distinction of breaking the b.s. barrier. The loud boom heard when a supersonic plane goes by may be annoying, but the devastation left in the wake of a super post-truth political program based on pseudo-science penetrates and perverts and bankrupts everything. It is downright terrifying.

  4. tom0mason

    Another snowflake hits the legal burner in an attempt to defend the indefensible idea that all of the US’s electricity can be derived from wind, solar and hydroelectric power (aka ruinable power generation).

    “The lawsuit rests on the claim that Clack et al. defamed Jacobson by calling his assumption that hydroelectricity could be significantly expanded a “modeling error.””
    Specifically —

    “Among the most damaging falsehoods is the Clack Article’s claim that the Jacobson Article contains several modeling errors that “invalidate the results in the studies, particularly with respect to the amount of hydropower available….” Exhibit 11 at p.3 (Clack Article at 6724). Baseless allegations of modeling errors can be found throughout the Clack Article. These allegations are relevant and particularly damaging to Dr. Jacobson, whose main research work is on the development and application of numerical computer models. ”


    Now it seems we need legal proof that the whole of the (modeled) US can or can not run on (modeled) ruinable electricity generation, and (modeled) hydroelectricity generation is more or less damaging to the (modeled) environment than burning (modeled) fuel.

    In today’s snowflake science, models are to be legally vindicated as a reality. This type of action does not bode well for the future (real or modeled).

    1. yonason

      Since the claim the litigant is suing for was made in a peer, sorry, pal-reviewed journal, even if the litigant wins he’ll lose, and he’ll take warmism with him. Discrediting one of the clubs they beat us skeptics with is just not a well thought out strategy, IMO. And if he loses, it will show the contempt they have for “peer review,” when it doesn’t support their fairy tale.

      Heads we skeptics win, tails the warmists lose. I like those odds.

  5. Jeff

    If this is the same court in which Mark Steyn’s case (with the Manniac) has been languishing for the last six years, it’ll be hung up for a long, long time. Then again, it should just be thrown out. Or even SLAPPed.

    Legislation by the judiciary has reached the point of killing any hope of reasonable government. Yet another remnant of Earl Warren.

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