Climate scientists have been harassed for more than 25 years. For most of those, we’ve been on our own to handle the problem. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is key to making sure we can focus on our science, and not the harassment.” — Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State
We were established with one goal: to protect the scientific endeavor. Legal actions against scientists are also attacks on the scientific endeavor as a whole, which slow or prevent critical advancements in technology, medicine, and our understanding of the planet.
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) works to defend climate scientists who are dragged into litigation or otherwise threatened with legal attacks and harassment by politically and ideologically motivated groups.
We also work to educate members of the scientific community, helping them gain a better understanding of the legal issues surrounding their work, and to educate the public about the legal issues facing climate scientists.
CSLDF was founded in 2011 and received its 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 2015.
The war on science
In recent years, many of our brightest scientific minds have been taken away from their research to spend time defending frivolous lawsuits. Climate scientists who present their findings in the media have been faced by an onslaught of abuse by a small group of unprincipled individuals and organizations. This state of affairs is unacceptable.
One mention in a newspaper or appearance on TV can lead to hundreds of emails that range from hateful to threatening. Letters demanding they be fired have been sent to their universities and malicious freedom of information act requests sent for volumes of private email correspondence. Congressional investigations have been launched into individual scientists, with little interest in understanding the science behind their research. One scientist had a dead animal left at their door, while their child was in the house.
This is no way to treat our best and brightest researchers. This is no way to move science forward. When scientists need to seek police protection, something is deeply wrong.
What sparked the movement?
CSLDF was started when Professor Scott Mandia posted a “Dear Colleagues” letter on his blog in September 2011. He wrote, “Climate researchers are in need of immediate legal assistance to prevent their private correspondence from being exposed” via misuse of open records laws.
The outpouring of support was overwhelming, and helped pay for climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann’s legal defense against a massive and invasive records request. But scientists’ legal bills continued to mount, and Professor Mandia paired with Joshua Wolfe to create CSLDF.
Since 2011, we’ve helped over a hundred researchers, conducted legal education workshops for scientists and lawyers and developed a network of pro-bono lawyers ready to help scientists.