Protection Sought for Climate Researcher

Advocacy groups say the University of Virginia is releasing too much of its climate researcher's documents.

Edyta Zielinska
Aug 15, 2011

Winter ice on the coastline of Canada's Baffin IslandJEFF SCHMALTZ

A set of science and academic advocacy groups say that in granting a freedom of information request to obtain full access to a climate researcher's documents, the University of Virginia is sending the message that it will not take measures to protect its researchers from harassment.

A conservative think tank called the American Tradition Institute sued the University of Virginia to obtain records from climate researchers, including Michael Mann, who worked there until 2005, when he moved to Penn State University, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.  ATI promotes the idea the there is no proof that climate-change is man-made, via "research, investigative journalism, and litigation," according to its website. Four advocacy groups—the American Association of University Professors, the American Geophysical Union, Climate Science Watch, and the Union of Concerned Scientists—then sent a letter to the University's...

In the letter to the president the four groups write: "The University should seek to improve the agreement to better protect scientists from harassment and intimidation." Although the ATI would be under a gag order preventing it from disclosing any of the exempt documents, the four groups say they “are concerned that giving requesters this level of access sets an entirely new precedent and would create a chilling effect for current Virginia researchers."

According to The Chronicle, the University was still reviewing the letter and was not yet ready to comment.

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