Stanford Prof sues scientists who debunked him – demands $10M

by Judith Curry

Mannian litigation gone wild. — Steve McIntyre

Details given by Michael Schellenberger in Environmental Progress:

Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [link to published paper] 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.

A copy of Jacobson’s complaint and submitted exhibits can be found here and here

What Jacobson has done is unprecedented. 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.

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.”

Environmental Progress weighed in on this controversy when Clack et al. published their article. In our view, it’s clear that Jacobson made a false assumption about the possibility of expanding U.S. hydroelectricity.

Jacobson’s assumption speaks to the essential fallacy of the 100 percent renewables proposal.

Renewables like solar and wind require vastly larger amounts of land and mining in order to produce power that is unreliable. Under the guise of protecting the environment, renewables destroy the environment.

One of the most environmentally devastating ways of producing electricity is with hydroelectric dams. While poor nations have a right to make cheap power from hydroelectricity, their environmental impact is enormous.

Jacobson’s proposal is to expand radically hydroelectric dams so they can support unreliable solar and wind energy. Such a proposal would devastate fish species even more than they have already been devastated.

The only way to promote such an environmentally devastating agenda is to claim it is good for the environment. That requires lying. Now that these lies have been exposed, it is revealing that Jacobson has resorted to a lawsuit that cannot and will not do anything more than intimidate his opponents.

Scientists and energy analysts should not be intimidated. We must stand up to bullies. We urge all lovers of nature and science to join us in denouncing this unprecedented and appalling attack on free inquiry.

JC reflections

Well I am just speechless.  Alice Dreger summed it up with this tweet

This is batshit.

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.

I am reminded of the  controversy surrounding publication of the Webster, Curry et al. (2005) paper on hurricanes and global warming [link].  Massive hostilities from both sides in the media, dozens of rebuttals submitted to Science, dozens of papers defending and extending our findings. The whole debate played out on the evening news for almost six months.  Massive elevations to my blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, etc.  It wasn’t pretty, and it was massively stressful.  I took a step back, and wrote a paper Mixing Science and Politics in Testing the Hypothesis that Warming is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity. Not surprisingly, after more than a decade, we can see that both sides had valid points and this issue still isn’t settled.

Now that I think of it, the Webster et al. controversy may not be a good analogue for the Jacobson controversy, since the Clack et al. analysis seems pretty devastating to Jacobson’s analysis (but I haven’t read either paper carefully). Whereas people are still arguing about the issues raised by Webster et al.

We are also seeing themes of campus ‘safe spaces’ here, with allegations that this critique has upset the graduate students.

I do not see a good ending for Mark Jacobson here — there will undoubtedly be a countersuit and he stands to lose a lot of money (not just his lawsuit).

Well I suppose this was inevitable, with fragile king-sized professional egos being inflated by fawning advocacy groups, media fame, and massive federal funding.

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



Filed under: Energy, Sociology of science

via Climate Etc.

November 1, 2017 at 08:42PM

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