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A climate scientist’s very good day in court.

Amid the backlash against ESG, personal attacks have become an occupational hazard for climate researchers. But one such scientist, the University of Pennsylvania’s Michael Mann, decided to fight back by filing suit against some conservative bloggers who had called him a fraud and compared him to a pedophile. After a 12-year legal battle, Mann in February won a $1 million verdict.

His triumph over ESG backlashers brought Mann some gratifying publicity. “Seems to me that science is actually on a winning streak,” Mann told the Wall Street Journal in March.

In an interview, the Brunswick Social Value Review asked Mann if his success might embolden other climate scientists to legally defend their work. “I can only report the feedback I’ve received from fellow scientists. And it has been rather effusive,” says Mann. “Numerous colleagues have told me that they see this as a win for science and the scientific community, and that they find it reassuring.”

As a postdoctoral researcher in 1998, Mann co-authored a study on average global temperatures from the year 1400 forward. The study ran in Nature, a bible of the scientific community. It found century after century of stable temperatures until a sharp rise began in the mid-1880s, in step with the start of the industrial revolution. The chart that ran with it showed what looked like a hockey stick with its blade turned up. In climate circles, Mann became famous—or in the case of climate deniers, infamous—for what became known as the “hockey stick” graph. More than 25 years later, the sharp rise in temperatures that it shows remains frightening. Long ago reviewed and approved by his peers, Mann’s chart has now passed muster in a court of law. 

The Authors

Kevin Helliker

Partner, New York

Kevin is the Editor in Chief of the Brunswick Review. He joined Brunswick in early 2017 after a Pulitzer Prize-winning career at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered politics in London, served as a Bureau Chief in Dallas and Chicago and worked as a Page One Editor in New York.