Climate scientist loses court case – ordered to “cease and desist” smearing independent journalist who wrote about IPCC errors

Excerpt from Pierre Goseelin’s  NoTricksZone:

Der Spiegel today has a story on IPCC bigwig and ultra-alarmist Stefan Rahmstorf, who is also a lead scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and elite member of the Hockey Team. For those of you who may not recall, Rahmstorf is the outlier oceanographer that projects a sea level rise of about 1.4 meters, even when the rest the world, including real observations, all point to something that is about 1/7 of that.

It’s a bit late and here are the main points. Der Spiegel starts:

Renown climate scientist and German government advisor Stefan Rahmstorf was found guilty of a blog attack against a journalist.  According to the opinion of a state court, he made untruthful assertions. Also the ‘Frankfurter Rundschau’ has come under fire.”

The Frankfurter Rundschau is a sort of daily that former East German comrades lean towards. On the Rahmstorf ruling by the court, NTZ reported about it here.

To make a long story short, journalist Irene Meichsner wrote a critical report about the IPCC which appeared in the Frankfurter Rundschau daily, to which Rahmstorf reacted quite nastily. He asserted at his blog that the journalist had been dishonest, sloppy, had never read the IPCC report, and that she even lifted text from another source. For a journalist, such accusations are of course career threatening and so deadly serious.

Meichsner didn’t stand for it, took the case to court, and won.

The Original text of the Court Judgement is here.

Full story here

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr also has an interesting writeup on it here

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45 thoughts on “Climate scientist loses court case – ordered to “cease and desist” smearing independent journalist who wrote about IPCC errors

  1. Damages yet determined? Compensatory? Punitive? The kilo of flesh nearest the heart and all the blood involved in getting it?

    How do the courts in Germany deal with that phase of a case concerning a civil tort?

  2. I have not seen such a curious aggression among scientists. I have read that it was common in the 1800-1920s, until Edison crossed the line. And he was wrong…..

  3. He is, of course, one of the tight-knit group at Realclimate.

    Nice to see someone call them on their libel.

  4. This will be good news for a certain Canadian professor. I hope that Prof. Mann and Co. file more actions. Video of them being cross examined under oath would be a welcome sight.

    Of course, this travesty should never have been allowed to happen. The judge is not a climate scientist so he should have recussed himself.

  5. Somewhere else, just yesterday, i read that even the New Yotk Times, which in its nature should support journalists, was all up supporting the scientist and condemning the journalist, when it should have done just the opposite. It shows the level of corruption the MSM has reached.

    Hope the journalist is awarded a six-digit sum of Euros in damages, and in time before the euro crashes.

  6. Anthony,

    It appears likely to me that the prosecutor in VA has ALL of the Climate gate emails.

    His action against the University is designed to get emails from the domestic records of the MM emails from the University. I bet he already has all that he needs.

    • At 11:09 PM on 1 December, Policyguy had written:

      It appears likely to me that the prosecutor in VA [Ken Cuccinelli] has ALL of the Climate gate emails.

      His action against the University is designed to get emails from the domestic records of the MM emails from the University. I bet he already has all that he needs.

      Highly unlikely. Mr. Cuccinelli would not, for example, have had access to the contents of the all.7z portion of the FOIA2011.zip archive.

      Were that not enough, Mr. Cuccinelli is required both by the responsibilities of his public office and the standards of his profession to get the most thorough discovery of criminal and tortfeasant activities on the part of Michael E. Mann, and unless those holding the information he’s been seeking are claiming the protections against self-incrimination imposed upon government officers by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and – who knows? – the administrators and other personnel of the University of Virginia may be criminally complicit in Dr. Mann’s activities during his period of employment with the institution), they must disgorge or themselves be considered in criminal contempt on a separate violation of the law.

      My personal and very Sicilian response to Dr. Mann’s “professional” activities upon reading through the contents of the FOIA2009.zip file involved a drive out to Centre County with a couple of shovels and a sack of quicklime. Failing that, having him dressed in a prison jumpsuit and being provided a secure place of confinement for the rest of his life will, I suppose, have to do.

  7. Good for Irene Meichsner and good for the court. It is about time these bullies are taken to task. I agree with Roger Pielke Jr. that this kind of thing must stop and that when necessary other journalists need to aid their own. This is a strong message to all sides here that if you are talking about facts then it is best to get them straight.

  8. Interesting that this should concern Mr Rahmstorf, I’d never noticed him before the latest batch of emails where he comes across as one of the most vocal “defenders of the faith”.

  9. Well obviously when they tried to get people they “know and trust” into the right places, they neglected the judiciary.

  10. You know, with a little blonde hair dye, & replacing those spectacles with old fashioned horn-rimmed ones, changing his jacket from tweed to a nice shinny black leather trench coat, this fellow could look even more menacing than he seems to want to portray himself to be!!! Not a very nice man it would appear, what kind of person seeks to actively destroy someone’s job or career for the sake of it? In my profession, if I sought to do such a thing I would be hauled before a Professional Conduct Committe to explain myself, & risk being severely censured or worse, struck off!!!!! It would appear that Climate Scientists seem to have much lower standards of professional conduct IMHO!

  11. Hardly surprise , pal review and IPCC with no bite has made the team lazy and sloppy in action, so once up against a system they could not load in their favor they were always going to come unstuck . Lets hope its the first of many court ceases to come for the ‘Team ‘

  12. Policyguy really , so why does VA but so much time ,money and effort into not releasing these e-mails if prosecutor already has them ? After all they were happy to had over e-mails to Greenpeace when they came calling for someones so their clearly not concerned with ‘academic freedom’ which is the excuse they made but never justified .

  13. The late 50′s and early 60′s saw a lot of aggression between the sides of the Tectonic Theory of Plate Tectonics, the updated Continental Drift theory. As more and more evidence flooded in to confirm the new theory adherents to the old ideas became more resentful and threatening even to threatening death to some. Thankfully the new theory became fact. It is still being refined but that is what science does.

  14. Sadly, although Stefan Rahmstorf may have technically lost this case, it is at best only a pyrrhic victory for the journalist Irene Meichsner. She was awarded the princely sum of only 511 euros in terms of compensation. On the other hand, Rahmstorf’s attacks succeeded in persuading the newspaper which published her original article to subsequently publish a two page retraction.

    Finally, following this experience, Irene Meichsner has said that she has had enough of climate science; she isn’t going to write about it anymore.
    So who won?

  15. The ruling of the District Court in Cologne/GER can be read here (German only):

    http://www.klimastorch.de/klimastorch/urteil.rahmstorf-vs.meichsner.pdf

    Short translation:

    Order of “cease an desist” –

    1. The respondent must not declare, imply or create the impression that

    a. the Plaintiff copied her article from the journalist Jonathan Leake.

    b. the Plaintiff asked the respondent through the “Frankfurter Rundschau” newspaper to delete her name from his blog entry “FR retracts article against IPCC”.

    2. Additionally payment of legal fees of 511 € by the respondent.

    In case of violation of this order, he will be fined up to 250.000 € of 6 months of incarceration; in case of repetition incarceration up to two years.

    The plaintiff’s libel case was dismissed (freedom of speech).

  16. Just before the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, Rahmstorf was quoted at Oxford as saying that a two-meter rise in sea level was unstoppable unless we took steps to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. He was also cited as the inspiration for an alarming web fiction article entitled ‘New York Under Water: Sea Level Change This Century’ (Deborah Teramis Christian). I expect most of the ‘thunder’ of his message was lost in the Climategate revelations.

    Two meter sea level rise unstoppable: experts
    By Gerard Wynn
    OXFORD, England | Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:12 am EDT
    (Reuters) – A rise of at least two meters in the world’s sea levels is now almost unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University on Tuesday.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/30/us-climate-seas-idUSTRE58S4L420090930

  17. Alex the skeptic says:
    December 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Somewhere else, just yesterday, i read that even the New Yotk Times, which in its nature should support journalists, was all up supporting the scientist and condemning the journalist, when it should have done just the opposite. It shows the level of corruption the MSM has reached.

    Hope the journalist is awarded a six-digit sum of Euros in damages, and in time before the euro crashes.
    _____________________________________
    She got about $650 dollars AND has to pay 1/3 of the court costs. It was not even a slap on the wrist for the scientist, more a gentle pat on the head…. GRRRrrrrr.

  18. Policyguy says:
    December 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    It appears likely to me that the prosecutor in VA has ALL of the Climate gate emails.

    His action against the University is designed to get emails from the domestic records of the MM emails from the University. I bet he already has all that he needs.

    THAT would explain why FOIA didn’t reveal his second load until recently, and why he’s held the rest back. And it would explain why Cuccinelli has dared to take on such an otherwise-risky case for himself, career-wise. WOW.

  19. KnR says:
    December 2, 2011 at 1:51 am
    Policyguy really , so why does VA but so much time ,money and effort into not releasing these e-mails if prosecutor already has them ?

    Delay. Time is money. And the hope that something may turn up. There’s a joke about a guy who got a stay of execution by promising that he could teach the king’s horse to sing. When asked later what he hoped to gain from this, he said: “The king may die. I may die. The horse may die. And the horse might learn to sing.”

  20. PS: And don’t forget it’s not the UVA’s money it’s wasting. Its defense is being funded by some greenie organization.

  21. For those of you who may not recall, Rahmstorf is the outlier oceanographer that projects a sea level rise of about 1.4 meters, even when the rest the world, including real observations, all point to something that is about 1/7 of that.

    Is the ‘outlier’ projection going to put Texas under water – again? /sarc

    (Dig under our ‘topsoil’ in the DFW area and reach limestone in pretty short order; the reason we don’t have basements!)

    http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/swgqz

    .

  22. It is an unfair world where an honest journalist has to fight unaided for her reputation while people like him are left relatively unpunished.

  23. “For a journalist, such accusations are of course career threatening and so deadly serious”

    For a scientist, such behavior should be career threatening and so deadly serious.

  24. Why would anyone see this as a win? For a few hundred dollars Rahmstorf drove this journalist from the field and proved that no-one would step up to help her in her defense.

  25. “In hindsight, the averaging period of 11 years that we used in the 2007 Science paper was too short to determine a robust climate trend… [Stefan Rahmstorf’s 2009 mea culpa, on the RealClimate blog]

    “It turns out that Rahmstorf has pulled an elaborate practical joke on the Community…” [Steve McIntyre]

    More on Rahmstorf & his absurd Method here: tinyurl.com/rahmstuff

  26. The newspaper should retract the retraction and demand the dismissal of Rahmstorf. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

  27. I read Roger PIelke’s article on it. I guess the “team” just learned that they have to live by the rules the rest of the “unwashed masses” do.

  28. I don’t believe the judgement mentions the actual amount of the court costs, but Rahmstorf has to pay two-thirds of them. I don’t know whether in Germany the phrase “court costs” includes the plaintiff’s attorney fees. If so it could add to a tidy sum.

    It may also be possible for Meichsner to recover some additional money in a suit against the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research with the claim Rahmstorf was acting under their institutional aegis and they failed to exercise proper oversight.

    And I think the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau should at a minimum print a retraction of their original retraction, in the same space and prominence as the original, and bill Rahsmtorf for the cost (wholesale).

    The goal in a civil lawsuit is not (except in the minds of US trial attorneys) to extort millions and get rich, but to make “whole” the damaged party. This is easy where actual incurred costs can be counted and more difficult where professional reputations have been damaged.

  29. Regarding various comments on “who really won [lost] …”. The financial penalty is indeed quite modest (511 Euros). The additional award of two thirds of the court costs I have not been able to quantify, but the larger they are the more the one third Meichsner must pay will hurt her. As she is the plaintiff (not the paper), I assume this will come our of her pocket. It would be interesting to get her perspective on the decision.

    However, one clear positive outcome is we can add to Rahmstorf’s professional resume: “liar”. Remember how much the Team used the Oxburgh report as proof they had been exonerated? Now there is a court judgement on record that one of the Team was reckless and untruthful in a matter directly related to his professional field and it can be mentioned whenever Rahmstorf’s name is brought up.

    Now what to call him? This sort of wrong is classified as a “tort”, and he can be fairly described as guilty of a “tortuous injury”, but we need a catchy shorthand for that. In criminal matters, we describe those guilty of serious crimes as “convicted felons”, or more simply “felons”. Lesser criminal acts are classified as “misdemeanors”, but I don’t know a short phrase to describe those convicted thereunder — misdemeanorites? misdemorons? Part of the problem is “misdemeanor” sounds like “Miss Demeanor”, a newspaper advice column on manners and deportment for young ladies. But I digress.

    Still less can I think of a phrase for those with civil judgments against them. The legal usage appears to be “tortfeasor”, but hardly anyone will recognize that. Since much of tort law is designed to protect against negligence, perhaps we can lump violators under the rubric “negligencia”. But as this case was willful that won’t do. Miscreant? I think that one has religious/theological implications. Malefactor? That looks too much like “Male factor”, which could mean a whole bunch of unrelated things. Curr? Scoundrel? Those have wide popular usage, but I don’t think they have the accepted precise meaning which fits here.

    Perhaps we’ll just have to go with the established usage:

    Stefan Rahmstorf
    Climate Scientist, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    Tortfeasor (2011)

    It does have a certain ring, now that I look at it. Maybe there’s a more impressive sounding german word for it? When I enter “tortfeasor” into Google translate it returns “Schädiger”, which just doesn’t do anything for me.

    How about this motto:

    “Tortfeasor: not good enough for the State Pen, but good enough for Penn State”

    or

    “IPCC — We’re looking for a few good Tortfeasors”

  30. @DJA

    Boy, that radio clip is a real ripper! “Flannery… you low bastard.”!!
    Glad I live in Melbourne and not Sydney (my cardiologist has warned me not to get excited) :-)

  31. Alan, to clear this one up…

    the 511 € is pre-trial legal costs (attorneys) of the plaintiff that Rahmstorf has to pay for. Her pre-trial legal costs (attorney costs) were 800-something €, but she lost the case 1/3. (Pre-trial costs of the winning party are considered damages).

    Legal costs of the trial itself (including attorneys) are shared 1/3 (Plaintiff) – 2/3 (Rahmstorf). Again, that is because she lost the “libel” part of the case.

    Damages in Germany are generally not as horrendous as in the US. 600,000 US-$ for spilling hot coffee over some guy’s pants is impossible in Germany…

  32. Blog attack? Wot the hell is that?? Something like forgetting to put the / in your closing HTML tag on WUWT, I expect….turns the rest of the comment thread into bold or italic….

    Jolly good fun until you get that personal email from Mr. Watts!

  33. I made that mistake over on a WordPress-based alarmist blog, Dr. P.H. CRS. Instead of </i> I accidentally typed <i/> Ooooops! Don’t make that mistake!!

  34. This is just a test… please ignore.

    [REPLY: Rex, there is a test page for just that purpose. Look at the top of the page, the black strip at the bottom of the graphic. -REP]

  35. REP…Pirpose!!!!!!!!! Oh well ;-)

    The best thing I found from this post was by following a link from Notrickszone….

    “Visitors to Realclimate.org spend approximately 77 seconds on each pageview and a total of two minutes on the site during each visit.”

    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/realclimate.org#

    Anthony, I am sure without even checking that those numbers are sad compared to a REAL climate/science site!

    [REPLY: Jeez, I HATE spelling nazis. Fixed. Thanks. -REP]

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