On September 12, 2011, Scott Mandia posted a “Dear Colleagues” letter on his blog. It started, “Climate researchers are in need of immediate legal assistance to prevent their private correspondence from being exposed to Chris Horner and the American Tradition Institute who are using Freedom of Information (FOI) to harass researchers.” The outpouring of support was overwhelming. In less than 24 hours, Scott received $10,000 in small donations from scientists, students, and other concerned individuals. This went a long way toward helping solve immediate legal needs. Legal bills for scientists continued to mount, so it became apparent that a permanent organization was needed.
With Scott Mandia and Joshua Wolfe as co-managers, and with the fiscal sponsorship of the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was founded. This group will serve as the non-profit incubator as we build our own organization.
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established with one goal: to protect the scientific endeavor. Scientific research has brought us amazing advancements in technology, medicine, and in our basic understanding of the planet. Over the last twenty years, a small handful of politically-motivated think tanks and legal foundations, because they disliked certain scientific findings, have taken legal action against scientific institutions and individual scientists. In recent years, the legal attacks have intensified, especially against climate scientists.
The scientific method is designed around the belief that skepticism is good. Results should be subjected to the utmost scrutiny through the peer review process, followed by close examination and replication by others in the scientific community. Those whose ideas do not live up to the standards of rigorous science have instead chosen to litigate.
For the individual scientist these legal actions are a painful burden. Academic salaries were not designed to support ongoing legal expenses. Legal actions also have taken many of our brightest scientific minds away from their research to focus on frivolous lawsuits. This state of affairs is unacceptable. The United States of America should be the leader in science and technology, and it cannot do so if unscrupulous people subject our scientists to these actions.
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was established to make sure that these legal claims are not viewed as an action against one scientist or institution, but that they are seen as actions against the scientific endeavor as a whole. As such the Fund will defend climate scientists who are dragged into litigation and act aggressively to protect the interests of the scientific endeavor.
In addition, the Climate Science Defense Fund will create platforms and opportunities for members of the scientific community to gain a better understanding of the legal issues surrounding their work.