Climate Scientist Michael Mann Fights Back Against Cuccinelli’s Extremism

It’s no secret that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli abused his taxpayer-funded office to engage in a reckless witch-hunt against climate science, attacking then-UVa professor Michael Mann and embarrassing the commonwealth and our education system with his extremism. But, now that Cuccinelli is seeking higher office, Dr. Mann is fighting back harder than ever before.

In 2010, Cuccinelli earned widespread condemnation for wasting taxpayer resources by singling out scientific research conducted by Mann and two colleagues that showed that temperatures rose sharply in recent years. The finding was criticized by those who refuse to support any sort of climate action, similar to those oil and coal companies that have been dumping tens of thousands of dollars in Cuccinelli’s campaign coffers.

In the midst of an economic recession, Cuccinelli thought it worthwhile to use the Attorney General’s office and taxpayer resources to demand Mann’s emails, notes, drafts, and other research from UVA. It was an investigation the science journal Nature described as “an ideologically motivated inquisition that harasses and intimidates climate scientists,” and was derided by everyone from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed that the witch-hunt was just that, and ruled that Cuccinelli had no legal authority to demand these records.

Cuccinelli has a distressing history of extreme climate denial that stands out from the beliefs of a vast majority of not just the scientific community, but the American people. And, unfortunately, his attack on Mann is par for the course.

The latest example occurred just a few months ago, when a federal judge recently said she was “shocked” by recent revelations that Cuccinelli’s office again abused its resources by helping out-of-state gas and coal companies in a lawsuit filed by Virginia landowners — all after those companies dumped more than $100,000 into his campaign.

It’s clear that Cuccinelli is putting the special interests that fund his campaigns before the Virginians he is supposed to represent — and that’s why Mann has chosen to fight for a better candidate: Terry McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli’s reckless attack on Mann is the centerpiece of an advertisement for Democratic gubernatorial candidate and businessman Terry McAuliffe. And, in a recent interview with MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Mann talks of why he is speaking out:

“As a scientist, I try and be nonpartisan. I try and talk about facts, because the facts alone speak volumes about climate change… But unfortunately… if you’re a climate scientist, you’re going to be attacked by special interests who want to discredit you, who want to kill the messenger in an effort to try and discredit the concern over climate change. So whether you like it or not, you will be attacked, and I chose to fight back… to make sure that it was clear to my fellow scientists that we shouldn’t lie back and allow special interest and those advocating for them to discredit us. The stakes are too great.”

“Virginians have a very stark choice before them. On the one hand, you have Terry McAuliffe, who embraces science and technology, and recognizes that that technological innovation is going to help Virginia compete in the world economy in the 21st century. On the other hand you have Ken Cuccinelli, somebody who views science as something to attack if it doesn’t comport with his ideological views or the views of the special interests that fund his campaigns.”

WATCH the full interview here

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