Pesci mis­leads read­ers about cli­mate change

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - OPINION -

Don Pesci chooses to en­gage in child­ish at­tacks against both the sci­ence of cli­mate change and me per­son­ally in his re­cent let­ter to the ed­i­tor, “The curse of vic­ti­mol­ogy,” April 6.

De­spite his in­sis­tence that cli­mate change is not “set­tled sci­ence,” the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity has con­cluded oth­er­wise. The U.S. Na­tional Acad­emy of Sci­ences — cre­ated in the 19th cen­tury by Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Abraham Lin­coln and hardly a den of po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists — con­cluded that “most of the re­cent change is al­most cer­tainly due to emis­sions of green­house gases caused by hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.” In the mod­ern era of “al­ter­na­tive facts,” Pesci would like us to be­lieve a hand­ful of fos­sil fuel in­dus­try ad­vo­cates and right-wing com­men­ta­tors like him­self over the over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus of the world’s sci­en­tists. For read­ers in­ter­ested in the truth about cli­mate change, I rec­om­mend my re­cent book “The Mad­house Ef­fect: How Cli­mate Change De­nial Is Threat­en­ing Our Planet, De­stroy­ing Our Pol­i­tics, and Driv­ing Us Crazy.”

Pesci gets the facts sim­i­larly wrong when he refers to my li­bel law­suit against the Na­tional Re­view and Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute. This case is not about sci­en­tific or­tho­doxy or free­dom of speech. Just as the First Amend­ment does not per­mit one to falsely shout “fire” in a crowded the­ater, one may not falsely ac­cuse a sci­en­tist of fraud in his or her pro­fes­sional work, which is pre­cisely what the de­fen­dants did.

Five judges and two courts have al­ready re­jected Pesci’s as­ser­tions. In fact, the lat­est rul­ing, from the high­est court in the Dis­trict of Columbia, dis­missed the po­si­tions of the de­fen­dants that they were sim­ply ex­press­ing their le­git­i­mate opin­ions about cli­mate change, char­ac­ter­iz­ing their state­ments as “nox­ious.”

Now, it is time for a jury to de­cide. — Michael E. Mann, Penn­syl­va­nia, dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor of at­mo­spheric sci­ence and di­rec­tor of the Penn State Earth Sys­tem Sci­ence Cen­ter at Penn State Univer­sity

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