Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Support

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest MeWe

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: now a decade old and busier than ever

Posted on 23 December 2021 by Doug Bostrom

"We’ve fought for the scientific endeavor since 2011. Our initiatives ensure that scientists can conduct, publish, and discuss their research and advocate for science without the threat of political harassment or legal intimidation.

Our goals are simple: We want scientists to be able to focus on understanding climate change, threats to public health, and other critical human and environmental issues — and we want to ensure trust in science." 

— Climate Science Legal Defense Fund

"Extreme times lead to extreme measures." Science has enabled us to understand that we're entering an era of extreme peril, caused by extreme effects of our extreme employment of fossil fuels and requiring our concerted, extreme effort to remedy. Meanwhile, extreme amounts of money will change direction as a necessary outcome of our improved cognition, resulting in extreme, untoward behaviors on the part of those feeling threatened by mandatory changes we must make.

Skeptical Science is only one outcome of this wild landscape of extremity. Otherwise uncontroversial scientific knowledge and research progress following a smooth continuum of "we now know better" has become the victim of intentional distortion and manipulation in the public mind, colateral damage in a war to freeze our clock at "fossil." Skeptical Science works specifically to help the public combat its own victimization at the hands of people needing to employ deceit to cause confusion and policy paralysis. 

Another specific task: defend the integrity of science and the safety of scientists as legal matters, a beat the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund has been diligently working for a decade.

Why is there a Climate Science Legal Defense Fund? CSLDF is a response to extreme legal misbehavior. Arguably much more than the scientific world, our laws and juridical machinery are subject to what can be termed "hacking," exploitation by breaking of norms. Beginning perhaps most infamously with hounding of Professor Michael Mann over the revelation of the "hockey stick graph," proxies for the fossil fuel industry often (ironically) operating in the guise of "thinktanks" have thrown buckets of sand into the gears of scientific research, wasted incalculable amounts of precious time both in the lab and in the "real" world.  While so doing these mercenary forces have turned a lot of lives upside down— to no good end or purpose and in extreme poor faith and poor keeping with our precious, hard-earned freedom and right to enjoy good law and good legal practice in full good faith with the basic objective of our law: fairness. 

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund  (CSLDF) is akin to Skeptical Science. CSLDF also is an outcome of extreme, transgressive, self-interested exploitation and abuse of another of our great achievements, that of our bodies of law and our legal systems.

Here are some of the things CSLDF has done in the past 10 years to defend our scientists and our legal systems from bad faith:

  • 220 individuals in over 260 instances provided with legal support
  • 62 individuals defended from industry attacks
  • 28 individuals defended from government censorship
  • 500 documentations of government anti-science actions in the Silencing Science Tracker
  • 26 published legal guides on maintaining scientific integrity in the face of concerted attack
  • 10,000+ individuals counseled on their legal rights to practice research without inteference
  • 40+ individuals provide direct legal assistance each year since 2017

This year 2021 is unfortunately distinguished by seeing in a new record number of cases taken on by CSLDF, 41, beating 2017. The year has seen more extremes: death threats, a scientist sued for defamation because they debunked misinformation, another pair legally threatened for providing information to policymakers. This is nasty, abnormal behavior needing to be vigorously slapped down and CSLDF is doing that, still, after 10 years.



Here's our own, local case history with the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.

A couple of years ago Skeptical Science worked with Professor Michael Mann to deliver proactive deflation of a classic exploit of our legal system, by the coal-fired "Energy & Environment Legal Institute." Perhaps hoping to replicate past glories, E&E concocted a plan to force the release of a number of  truly ancient & stale emails in connection with climate research. Stripping away E&E's sanctimonious PR, the aim as usual was to traduce the credibility of a group of scientists. Not only is this harmful to the affected individuals but it's harmful to all of society, all of us.

There was nothing dramatic to see in this collection of dusty artifacts but we've already seen how this plan works: quotes are cherry-picked and then slathered with a generous coating of rhetoric— out of context— so as to color public opinion. Dr. Mann's solution to this gambit was elegantly simple in principle: just release all the emails in question before the official due date, in full context and as authentically and completely as possible.

Execution was bit more complicated. We wanted to show the emails in their normal context, in original conversation threads, with absolutely no redactions except for personally identifying information that could lead to trouble or unintended outcomes, such as telephone numbers and other contact information commonly found in email. All technically doable and we did accomplish that part of the task via the simple expendient of providing a web email client prepopulated with the entire tranche as they would have been seen back in the dim era when they were actually relevant. This involved a frenzy of effort  against a tight schedule in terms of converting PDF copies of emails back to their original form, automating redaction, modifying the email client so that it could be used for a publicly accessible display etc. 

But the technicalities were not our main problem. Our main challenge was observing and dealing with absolutely mandatory legal niceties and nuances littering the entire project, landmines of sorts that we suspected but couldn't see. We're not lawyers. Hence nearly every step forward required consultation with experts on legal matters in connection with our topic. Needless to say, no budget existed for this.

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was with us every step of the way, generously and freely providing guidance, ensuring we didn't "put a foot in it" or unwittingly violate any participant's privacy. This was invaluable and in fact we would not have been able to safely act on our plan without the help of CSLDF. 

We're only one outfit among many to enjoy such vital help in time of need. As we see above, others have sought out CSLDF help in truly extreme circumstances, and have been doing so for a decade. CSLDF is assisting now with cases that will span the organization's 11th year and there is no sign of this work slowing down. We can speculate that even while the fossil fuel indiustry "sees the handwriting on the wall," any sensible executive in that employment will see the value of prolonging monetization of their assets for as along as possible. If a few scientists need to be thrown under the bus and our society degraded as a result, so be it. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund stands against this degeneracy. CSLDF is the only formal outfit holding this line. 

Thank you to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for accomplishing 10 years of vital work. We reluctantly must wish for many returns. 

Get ready for the next decade, now. 

We conclude this commemoration by noting that the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is— right now— running a year-end fundraiser. Why contribute? For readers of the past decade of CSLDF's history it's not hard to fathom.

Even while CSLDF clients and we the general public enjoy legal services in defense of our scientific heritage and future on a "pro bono" basis, in point of fact it requires money to make these gears go around. We're not talking about rich salaries but rather "keeping the lights on," maintaining all of the organizational machinery and underpinnings need to make the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund an effective opponent of the forces in opposition.

The asymmetry in this struggle is enormous; on the one hand are essentially limitless resources, on the other a resistance not financed by imperceptible friction on trillions of dollars of annual revenue but by funds orders of magnitude smaller. It's a few and a lot against many and a little. The few are very powerful indeed.

The life history of CSLDF's first ten years should make us feel optimistic: the legal struggle to defend science is an equation that still can be balanced. CSLDF is much more agile, efficient and— apparently— intelligent than the opposition, as we see over and over again. 

Success as much as anything requires us seeing the imbalance of forces at play and then each acting fairly modestly to effect a powerful change in outcomes. After all, there are a lot more of "us" than there are "them." This is what has happened, in reality. Success is assured, because success is the established history and track record of 10 years  of CSLDF.

Notably, CSLDF's success— our better outcome— is shared and made possible by us contributing in support of this work. A little more brutally: good wishes and words of appreciation are terrific, but they're not folding money. Compliments and positive thoughts alone won't fix our climate problem, or protect the scientists trying to help us with our repairs. Money is needed for this, lots of small amounts, from "little" individuals— us. 

We see our need— it's documented a few paragraphs up. We see by history how CSLDF is able to efficiently and effectively bring balance into the struggle between scientists and what can reasonably be termed "the forces of darkness."

It needs only a moment of  our time to each of us have a positive effect.

A donor is matching $15,000 of contributions to CSLDF during this fundraiser, doubling other contributions up to that amount. It's a great time contribute right now, which you can do by clicking here. Please do so if you're able. 




0 0

Printable Version  |  Link to this page


There have been no comments posted yet.

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2022 John Cook
Home | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us