Read our COVID-19 research and news.

Virginia Official Wades Into U.K. Climate Investigation

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is requesting years of documents related to work carried out by Pennsylvania State University (PSU), University Park, climate scientist Michael Mann when he was at the University of Virginia (UVA). Cuccinelli has filed what amounts to a state subpoena for papers related to two grants Mann received from the National Science Foundation and two from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, plus correspondence with dozens of climate scientists.

The attorney general says the inquiry is aimed at determining if there were "inconsistencies" in Mann's research while he was an assistant professor in the department of environmental sciences at UVA from 1999 to 2005. At least one PSU group has cleared Mann of wrongdoing in the investigation into stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and a decision is pending from another panel.

Mann says that Cuccinelli is trying to "smear" him. The American Association of University Professors opposes the probe, as does the Union of Concerned Scientists. Even an opponent of Mann's is questioning the investigation :

Sir, As co-author of a book (Climategate: The CRUtape Letters) that was harshly critical of the performance of Michael Mann and his colleagues, I write in criticism of your decision to investigate Mr. Mann for potential violations of state laws on fraudulent payment of claims.

Mr. Mann has been extensively investigated regarding his work product, and although I consider his actions to be often unprofessional and politically oriented, neither I nor any of the people interviewed for our book have any doubt whatsoever that Mann performed the scientific work he has been commissioned to do, or that he engaged in any fraudulent actions.

No matter what has prompted your investigation, there is no doubt that it will be interpreted as a witch hunt. If you are in fact investigating a credentialed scientist for results that do not suit your political opinion, that interpretation is correct. Unless you can reveal to the public prima facie evidence that shows cause for this investigation, I beg you to reconsider.