Backround

Relevant background information, for those new to Cuccinelli vs. UVa.

Dramatis Personae

  • Ken Cuccinelli – Republican Attorney General for the state of Virginia as of fall 2009.  His actions as attorney general have included suing the to prevent the implementation of the 2010 health care reform bill and suing to prevent the implentation of carbon emission regulation by the EPA.
  • Michael Mann – World famous climatologist.  PhD from Yale in 1998, the same year in which he was the lead author on a paper showing a “hockey stick” in the global temperature record (i.e. temperatures are flat for the past 1000 years or so but then show a sudden uptick in the last few decades of the 20th century).  As the “hockey stick” is one of the easiest to interpret representations of global warming, Michael Mann and his work have been frequent targets for politicians and researchers opposed to the global warming consensus.  His research during his time at UVa (1999-2005) is the subject of the Cuccinelli v. UVa case.  He currently is a professor at Penn State University (PSU).

Locations of Interest

  • University of Virginia – Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.  Prestigious public institution of higher learning located in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The recipient of Cuccinelli’s Civil Investigative Demand.  Michael Mann worked here from 1999-2005.
  • Penn State University – The current location of Michael Mann.
  • University of East Anglia– A British institution recently subject to a theft of private emails (see “Climategate”).  The Hadley Climate Research Unit (HadCRU) there does similar research to Michael Mann.

Events

  • “Climategate” – a substantial amount of email and code was pilfered from the Hadley CRU and released to the public on the eve of the Copenhagen summit in November 2009.  Several investigations by both professional and political entities fail to find any evidence of research misconduct.  Of particular relevance is an out of context email that refers to using a “trick” to “hide the decline.”   The actual phrase is “Mike’s nature trick”, referring to a publicly documented technique first published by Michael Mann in his 1998 hockey stick paper.  “Hide the decline” refers not to a decline in temperature, but to a decline in the temperature inferred from a particular type of tree ring in the 20th century.
  • MBH98 – The technical name for the famous “Hockey Stick” Paper.  Available here.