Penn State clears Mann in Climate-gate probe

By Juliet Eilperin

A Pennsylvania State University investigative committee has cleared a climate scientist of ethical misconduct in connection with an exchange of e-mails about global warming known as Climate-gate.

Michael Mann, a meteorology professor at Penn State, came under fire after hackers broke into the server of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in Britain and published thousands of e-mails and documents the center’s staff had sent to other climate researchers.

Mann is best known as the author of the “hockey-stick” graph, which showed there has been a rapid, recent rise in the Earth’s temperature. His work has long been under attack by global-warming skeptics. But the criticism became more heated after an e-mail between scientists referring to a statistical “trick” used in Mann’s research surfaced among the leaked correspondence. Both Mann and the author of the e-mail said the e-mail was taken out of context and the research data is solid.

The Penn State panel, which launched its probe on Nov. 30, dismissed three of the allegations as not credible but continued to examine whether Mann “seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.” On Thursday it concluded that he had not

While the panel called Mann’s decision to share “unpublished manuscripts with third parties, without first having received express consent from the authors of such manuscripts… careless and inappropriate,” it unanimously concluded “that there is no substance to the allegation” that Mann engaged in academic misconduct

Mann welcomed the panel’s findings

“I’m pleased that the last phase of Penn State’s investigation has now been concluded, and that it has cleared me of any wrongdoing. These latest findings should finally put to rest the baseless allegations against me and my research,” he said in a statement

But the report will likely do little to quell the political debate over climate science, which has only intensified over the past year

Myron Ebell, a global warming skeptic who directs Energy and Global Warming Policy for the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted that the Penn State ethics review only interviewed one of Mann’s critics, MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen

“It has been designed as a whitewash,” said Ebell, whose group accepts contributions from the energy industry. “To admit that Dr. Mann is a conman now would be extremely embarrassing for Penn State. But the scandal will not be contained no matter how many whitewash reports are issued. The evidence of manipulation of data is too obvious and too strong.

However former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), who now serves as a special adviser to the Project on Climate Science, an environmental advocacy coalition, hailed the report.

“This exoneration should close the book on the absurd episode in which climate scientists were unjustly attacked when in fact they have been providing a great public service,” Boehlert said in a statement. “The attacks on scientists were a manufactured distraction, and today’s report is a welcome return to common sense. While scientists can now focus on their work, policy makers need to address the very real problem of climate change.”

Mann’s professional conduct is also being questioned in Virginia, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said he is investigating whether Mann committed fraud when he sought and spent five public grants for his research while working at the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli is seeking to subpoena the university for information on those grants. The university is challenging the request, arguing that the attorney general is intruding on Mann’s academic freedom.


Download pdf rapport (zie ook Richard Lindzen’s bijdrage).