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vendredi 23 décembre 2016

Cadeau de Noël pour Michael Mann qui gagne une décision de justice

Michael Mann est un scientifique qui fait l'objet d'une détestation de grande ampleur de la part d'une espèce en voie de disparition que l'on appelle les climatosceptiques.

L'objet de l'ire de ces négateurs du réchauffement climatique anthropique (RCA) ? La fameuse courbe en crosse de hockey et la révélation à la fin du siècle dernier que la hausse des températures depuis le début de l'ère industrielle était corrélée avec les émissions humaines de CO2, ce que certaines personnes atteintes de déni pathologique ne peuvent tout simplement pas admettre ; sans compter les « intérêts » en jeu, les industries dites « fossiles », pour lesquelles il est primordial de retarder au maximum toute réglementation trop contraignante pouvant avoir un effet négatif sur leur compte de résultat et notamment sa bottom line.

Une bonne nouvelle vient de nous parvenir de la Cour d'Appel du District de Columbia où se jugeait un des quelques litiges que Michael Mann doit gérer avec un certain nombre de personnes l'ayant diffamé et ayant cherché à salir sa réputation de scientifique.

La décision de cette Cour d'Appel, comme l'explique Greg Laden, va permettre à Mann de continuer à défendre ses droits et son honneur :
  • Mann sued the National Review and others over defamation. That’s a good suit and he’ll probably eventually win it.
  • Along the way, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals made a decision that allowed the suit to go forward. The encapsulated version of that: Defendant(s) argued that the case should be thrown out, and the judge said no way Jose to that. Then, defendant(s) appealed that decision, and just now, the court said no way Jose to that too.
Cela parait ahurissant mais il s'agit de la sixième (sur six) décision en faveur de Mann !

Sur HotWhopper Sou nous en donne le détail :
  1. Cuccinelli v. UVA/Mann, 
  2. Cuccinelli v. UVA/Mann supreme Court Appeal, 
  3. ATI v. UVA/Mann, 
  4. ATI v. UVA/Mann Supreme Court Appeal, 
  5. Mann v. CEI/NRO/etc DC District Court, 
  6. Mann v. CEI/NRO DC Appeals Court
Toutes, donc, gagnées par Mann.

Cette sixième décision a pour moi un double avantage :
  1. faire un historique de l'« affaire Mann », ce qui est utile pour replacer les choses dans leur contexte ;
  2. montrer que le droit est clairement du côté de Mann et que cela n'augure que du bon pour la suite.
 L'historique occupe les pages 6 à 16 de la décision de la Cour et peut se résumer ainsi :
  • C'est en 1998 et 1999 que Michael Mann et deux de ses collègues,  Raymond S. Bradley et Malcolm K. Hughes, bizarrement épargnés par les climatosceptiques (qui usent en fait de la Serengeti strategy en s'attaquant uniquement à Mann), publient deux papiers montrant que la hausse récente des températures était sans précédent depuis au moins le dernier millénaire et que cette hausse était corrélée avec les fortes concentrations de CO2 dans l'atmosphère dues à la combustion de carburants fossiles ;
  • La reconstruction des températures avant l'utilisation des mesures instrumentales (thermomètres) était rendue possible par l'utilisation de proxys, essentiellement les cernes d'arbres mais aussi les sédiments prélevés dans des glaciers ou au fond de lacs, entre autres ;
  • Le deuxième papier est à l'origine de la fameuse « courbe en crosse de hockey » qui fut reprise en 2001 dans le 3ème rapport du GIEC ;
  • En 2003 et 2005 un consultant dans l'industrie minière (tiens, tiens...), Stephen McIntyre, et  un professeur d'économie, Ross McKitrick, prétendirent que les données de Mann étaient mauvaises et que la courbe était le résultat d'analyses statistiques erronées ;
  •  Dans le même temps le professeur Edward Wegman tira une conclusion identique, mais le National Research Council, de son côté, bien qu'émettant des doutes sur la fiabilité des températures reconstituées pour la période antérieure à 1600, valida les conclusions et notamment la courbe elle-même ;
  • Par la suite toutes les études revues par des pairs confirmèrent la courbe en crosse de hockey, prouvant que, contrairement à ce qu'on lit partout dans la presse climatosceptique, la courbe de Mann n'a jamais été réfutée ;
  • En novembre 2009 éclate l'affaire dite du « climategate » tombant à point (pour les climatosceptiques) juste avant la COP15 de Copenhague afin de la torpiller ;
  • Plusieurs enquêtes conclurent toutes par la suite qu'il n'y avait eu, de la part des scientifiques et notamment de Michael Mann, aucune tentative de fraude ou de falsification des données, ce que tentait de « prouver » cette affaire du climategate ;
  • En juillet 2012 Rand Simberg publia un article sur le blog du Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), dans lequel il comparait Michael Mann à un pédophile, Jerry Sandusky, en disant notamment que « Mann était le Sandusky de la science climatique ».
 Je passe sur tous les détails, et il y en a eu, qui ont alimenté la chronique de l'« affaire Mann » depuis cette date jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

Voici une partie de l'exposé des faits reprise de la décision de la Cour elle-même dans la langue d'origine (les surlignages en rouge sont de mon fait) :


In 1998 and 1999, Dr. Mann and two colleagues co-authored two scientific papers, the first of which was published in the international scientific journal Nature and the second of which was published in Geophysical Research Letters, that reported the results from a statistical study of the Earth’s temperatures over several centuries. Their 1998 study used a technique to reconstruct temperatures from time periods before the widespread use of thermometers in the 1960s by using “proxy indicators” (described by Dr. Mann as “growth rings of ancient trees and corals, sediment cores from ocean and lake bottoms, ice cores from glaciers, and cave sediment cores”). The data showed that global mean annual temperatures have been rising since the early twentieth century, with a marked increase in the last fifty years. The papers concluded that this rise in temperature was “likely unprecedented in at least the past millennium” and correlated with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels.
The 1999 paper included a graph depicting global temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for a millennium, from approximately 1050 through 2000. The graphical pattern is roughly horizontal for 90% of the temperature axis—reflecting a slight, long-term cooling period between 1050 and 1900—followed by a sharp increase in temperature in the twentieth century. Because of its shape resembling the long shaft and shorter diagonal blade of a hockey stick, this graph became known as the “hockey stick.” The hockey stick graph became the foundation for the conclusion that the sharp increase in temperature starting in the twentieth century was anthropogenic, or caused by concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere generated by human activity initiated by the industrial age. The hockey stick graph also became a rallying point, and a target, in the subsequent debate over the existence and cause of global warming and what, if anything, should be done about it.
In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Third Assessment Report, summarized the study and data that led to the hockey stick graph and featured several of the studies that replicated its data. In 2003 and 2005, mining consultant Stephen McIntyre and Professor Ross McKitrick published articles claiming to demonstrate that the hockey stick graph was the result of bad data and flawed statistical analysis. That same year, in a study commissioned by two U.S. Congressmen, Professor Edward Wegman concluded that Dr. Mann’s statistical methodology was flawed. That same year, the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, in a study commissioned by the U.S. House of Representatives, raised questions about the reliability of temperature reconstructions prior to 1600, but agreed substantively with the conclusions represented by the hockey stick graph. Follow-up, peer-reviewed studies published in the literature have independently validated conclusions illustrated by the hockey stick graph.

In November 2009, thousands of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom—some between Dr. Mann and CRU climate scientists—were somehow obtained and anonymously published on the Internet, shortly before the U.N. Global Climate Change Conference was to begin in Copenhagen in December 2009. In a controversy dubbed “Climategate,” some of these emails were cited as proof that climate scientists, including Dr. Mann, falsified or manipulated their data, in collusion with government officials, to produce the hockey stick result. The emails led to public questioning of the validity of the research leading to the hockey stick graph and to calls for evaluation of the soundness of its statistical analysis and the conduct of the scientists involved in the research, including, specifically, Dr. Mann.

Following disclosure of the emails and the questions raised, Penn State, the University of East Anglia, and five governmental agencies—the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. National Science Foundation—issued reports after conducting inquiries into the validity of the methodology and research underlying the hockey stick graph and investigating the allegations impugning the integrity of Dr. Mann’s and other climate scientists’ conduct. The inquiries that considered the science largely validated the methodology underlying the hockey stick graph. None of the investigations found any evidence of fraud, falsification, manipulation, or misconduct on the part of Dr. Mann. These reports were published in 2010 and 2011.
On July 13, 2012, Mr. Simberg authored an article entitled “The Other Scandal in Unhappy Valley,” which was published on OpenMarket.org, an online blog of CEI. Comparing “Climategate” with the then-front-page news of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky that had been revealed in the Freeh Report, Mr. Simberg wrote:
So it turns out that Penn State has covered up wrongdoing by one of its employees to avoid bad publicity.
But I’m not talking about the appalling behavior uncovered this week by the Freeh report. No, I’m referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it’s time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we’ve also learned about his and others’ hockey-stick deceptions since. Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet. . . .]
[M]any . . . luminaries of the “climate science” community were shown to have been behaving in a most unscientific manner. Among them were Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology at Penn State, whom the emails revealed had been engaging in data manipulation to keep the blade on his famous hockey-stick graph, which had become an icon for those determined to reduce human carbon emissions by any means necessary. . . .
Mann has become the posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber. No university whitewash investigation will change that simple reality....
Michael Mann, like Joe Paterno, was a rock star in the context of Penn State University, bringing in millions in research funding. The same university president who resigned in the wake of the Sandusky scandal was also the president when Mann was being whitewashed investigated. We saw what the university administration was willing to do to cover up heinous crimes, and even let them continue, rather than expose them. Should we suppose, in light of what we now know, they would do any less to hide academic and scientific misconduct, with so much at stake?
It’s time for a fresh, truly independent investigation.
 

Je passe le reste pour arriver directement à la fin, à la conclusion :

[…] Dr. Mann has supplied sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that statements in the articles written by Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn were false, defamatory, and published by appellants to third parties, and, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants did so with actual malice. […] On remand, the court shall dismiss these claims with prejudice.

« On remand » signifie en détention préventive, mais dans ce cas il s'agit plutôt du sens « sur renvoi » ; par ailleurs « the court shall dismiss these claims with prejudice » signifie que la décision est définitive et que les plaignants, dans le cas présent les adversaires de Mann, ne pourront plus invoquer les mêmes motifs.

Mann a ajouté un commentaire inclus dans le billet de Greg Laden :
  • We are particularly pleased that the court, after performing an independent review of the evidence, found that the allegations against me have been ‘definitively discredited’.
  • I am pleased by this unanimous decision of the court and we now look forward to presenting our claims of defamation to a jury.

De son côté le CEI reste optimiste en prédisant que
  • Dr. Mann's remaining claims will ultimately fail, because they attempt to shut down speech and debate that is absolutely protected by the First Amendment.

Comme si la liberté d'expression avait le moindre rapport avec la liberté de diffamer quelqu'un, et comme si le Premier Amendement de la Constitution Américaine permettait à tout un chacun de ternir la réputation d'un scientifique en le comparant notamment à un pédophile et en l'accusant d'avoir truqué ses résultats.

A mon avis le CEI pratique le wishful thinking, pour le moment wait and see, mais mon petit doigt me dit que cet organisme éminemment libéral ne devrait pas être satisfait du résultat final.


*****

Autres billets sur le sujet :



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