Stanford Professor sues skeptical scientists for $10M

Written by Dr Judith Curry

Mannian litigation gone wild. — Steve McIntyre. Details given by Michael Schellenberger in Environmental Progress:

Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [link to published paper] and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar.

A copy of Jacobson’s complaint and submitted exhibits can be found here and here

What Jacobson has done is unprecedented. Scientific disagreements must be decided not in court but rather through the scientific process. We urge Stanford University, Stanford Alumni, and everyone who loves science and free speech to denounce this lawsuit.

The lawsuit rests on the claim that Clack et al. defamed Jacobson by calling his assumption that hydroelectricity could be significantly expanded a “modeling error.”

Environmental Progress weighed in on this controversy when Clack et al. published their article. In our view, it’s clear that Jacobson made a false assumption about the possibility of expanding U.S. hydroelectricity.

Jacobson’s assumption speaks to the essential fallacy of the 100 percent renewables proposal.

Renewables like solar and wind require vastly larger amounts of land and mining in order to produce power that is unreliable. Under the guise of protecting the environment, renewables destroy the environment.

One of the most environmentally devastating ways of producing electricity is with hydroelectric dams. While poor nations have a right to make cheap power from hydroelectricity, their environmental impact is enormous.

Jacobson’s proposal is to expand radically hydroelectric dams so they can support unreliable solar and wind energy. Such a proposal would devastate fish species even more than they have already been devastated.

The only way to promote such an environmentally devastating agenda is to claim it is good for the environment. That requires lying. Now that these lies have been exposed, it is revealing that Jacobson has resorted to a lawsuit that cannot and will not do anything more than intimidating his opponents.

Scientists and energy analysts should not be intimidated. We must stand up to bullies. We urge all lovers of nature and science to join us in denouncing this unprecedented and appalling attack on free inquiry.

JC reflections

Well, I am just speechless.  Alice Dreger summed it up with this tweet

This is batshit.

In many ways, this is much worse than any of Michael Mann’s lawsuits alleging defamation of character [link] — Jacobson’s lawsuit seeks to settle a genuine scientific disagreement in the courts.

I am reminded of the controversy surrounding publication of the Webster, Curry et al. (2005) paper on hurricanes and global warming [link].  Massive hostilities from both sides in the media, dozens of rebuttals submitted to Science, dozens of papers defending and extending our findings. The whole debate played out on the evening news for almost six months.  Massive elevations to my blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, etc.  It wasn’t pretty, and it was massively stressful.  I took a step back and wrote a paper Mixing Science and Politics in Testing the Hypothesis that Warming is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity. Not surprisingly, after more than a decade, we can see that both sides had valid points and this issue still isn’t settled.

We are also seeing themes of campus ‘safe spaces’ here, with allegations that this critique has upset the graduate students.

I do not see a good ending for Mark Jacobson here — there will undoubtedly be a countersuit and he stands to lose a lot of money (not just his lawsuit).

Possibly, there will be sufficient backlash against this that will steer the overall climate-energy debate back towards a direction of sanity.

Read more at Climate Etc.

Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    Joseph Olson


    “We all know that Carbon Dioxide warms the planet, we just don’t know how much”
    ~ Judy Curry, at Heritage Crossroads Summit, Houston, Sept 2014

    We DO NOT all know that CO2 warms the planet. Curry has been aware of the NO WARMING evidence since her fake Mann debate in Discover magazine, April 2010, see

    “Non Science Nonsense” at

    • Avatar



      Too true!

      This particular court case appears to entertain the idea that computerized models can not be criticized for being unphysical.

  • Avatar

    Gerhard Kramm


    Rudolf Clausius, the father of the second law of thermodynamics, stated in his textbook “The mechanical theory of heat” from 1879:

    “Heat cannot, of itself, pass from a colder to a hotter body.”

    He continues:

    “The words ‘of itself,’ here used for the sake of brevity, require, in order to be completely understood, a further explanation, as given in various parts of the author’s papers. In the first place they express the fact that heat can never, through conduction or radiation, accumulate itself in the warmer body at the cost of the colder. This, which was already known as respects direct radiation, must thus be further extended to cases in which by refraction or reflection the course of the ray is diverted and a concentration of rays
    thereby produced.”

    After discussing any possibility that may discard these statements, Clausius summarized:

    “Again as regards the ordinary radiation of heat, it is of course well known that not only do hot bodies radiate to cold, but also cold bodies conversely to hot; nevertheless the general result of this simultaneous double exchange of heat always consists, as is established by experience, in an increase of the heat in the colder body at the expense of the hotter.”

    Consequently, the second law of thermodynamics implies that the colder atmosphere cannot heat up the warmer water and land masses adjacent to the Earth’s surface by heat transfer and exchange of heat radiation. And all of our observations underline that it is true. On global average, the net radiation (emitted radiation minus down-welling radiation) in the infrared range is of about 60 W/m^2, i.e., the water and land masses adjacent to the Earth’s surface experience a loss of heat even by infrared radiation.

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