Nearly a decade ago, in late 2009, a server at the University of East Anglia was hacked and thousands of emails from the university’s Climatic Research Unit were subsequently released in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate talks. Within these thousands of emails, climate change deniers attempted to cherry-pick a few sentences to falsely suggest scientific malfeasance. This so-called “Climategate” incident managed to briefly cast doubt on the public’s acceptance of the scientific realities of climate change. But ultimately, numerous investigations found there was no wrongdoing, and the media storm was found to only have a fleeting public impact.
I have discussed the manufactured scandal in the context of the larger industry-funded, bad faith attack on climate science in my book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.
In increasingly desperate attempts to recreate this short-lived machination, there have since been repeated efforts to obtain my and other climate scientists’ emails via fishing expeditions through misuse of the legal system. Led by David Schnare, one coal-funded group masquerading as a think tank — which currently goes by the name of Energy & Environment Legal Institute(E&E Legal) — brought a lawsuit in Virginia seeking to obtain virtually every email I had ever sent or received during the six years I was a professor at the University of Virginia.
The case was struck down by the Virginia Supreme Court, but E&E Legal has continued to essentially relitigate the matter in friendlier forums. E&E Legal targeted two other prominent climate scientists at the University of Arizona, Jonathan Overpeck and Malcolm Hughes (the latter being one of my longtime co-authors), seeking a total of 13 years of emails from them, including correspondence with or about me or my research.
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