When Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli II on Monday revived his anti-climate science crusade with a new, 30-page civil subpoena demanding boatloads of documents from the University of Virginia, we wondered what he might have discovered recently about the work of former U-Va. researcher Michael E. Mann, the object of the probe, that would justify further investigation. The answer: essentially nothing.
Slapped down once by a Virginia judge in his effort to investigate Mr. Mann, the attorney general is trying again with a screed that rehashes a lot of the old arguments about Mr. Mann’s findings, including the complaint about his famous “hockey-stick” graph in 1998, which shows a spike in world temperature during the 20th century. What Mr. Cuccinelli doesn’t discuss is a 2006 inquiry from the National Academy of Sciences on reconstructing historical temperature data, which found that Mr. Mann might better have used some different statistical techniques but that his methods weren’t unacceptably poor. Instead, the academy stressed that his basic conclusions appear sound.
As I’ve said before, people like Cuccinelli don’t have the qualifications to read, understand, and appreciate scientific papers. It’s frustrating when jokes like this guy go out and attack good science out of political and economic ideology.
Oh, and the cost?
To defend itself from Mr. Cuccinelli’s investigation into the distribution of a $214,700 research grant, the University of Virginia has spent $350,000, with more to come, and that doesn’t count the taxpayer funds Mr. Cuccinelli is devoting to this cause. Sadly, though, that’s the smallest of the costs. The damage to Virginia’s reputation, and to its universities’ ability to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, will not be easily undone.