Stanford Professor Withdraws $ 10 Million Libel Action Against Science Critic, Academic Journal


Civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson willfully withdrew a $ 10 million libel suit against an academic critic and the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for publishing a report challenging his research into renewable energy sources in the United States Jacobson, who also runs Stanford’s Atmosphere / Energy program, which initially sued the newspaper for libel in November 2017.

Jacobson argued that the opposing paper – that he affirmed contained factual inaccuracies – and subsequent media coverage caused undue damage to its reputation and that of its co-authors.

The litigation began when Jacobson sued NAS and Vibrant Clean Energy CEO Christopher Clack, the lead author of a paper refuting Jacobson’s research on the future of renewable energy. Jacobson’s original scientist paper asserted that it is “technically and economically feasible with few drawbacks” for the transition to 100% renewable energy sources in the United States by 2050.

The controversy surrounding Jacobson’s research has garnered considerable attention from the popular media. His studies served as a premise for various State level to clean energy legislation and the 100% renewable economy of US Senator Bernie Sanders invoice.

NAS’s flagship journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), published Jacobson’s original report in December 2015. A year and a half later, PNAS published Clack’s review of Jacobson’s research and 20 other co-authors. The Clack article claimed that the report by Jacobson and his colleagues “used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and insufficiently substantiated assumptions.”

On February 22, Jacobson published a 28 page article document respond in a preventive manner to questions about the abandoned trial. In his statement, Jacobson said he took legal action because Clack and his co-authors “knowingly and / or recklessly published false statements of fact” in their article.

In a declaration To the Washington Post, Clack replied: “It is unfortunate that Dr. Jacobson has now chosen to reaffirm his arguments in court, rather than in the academic literature, to which they belong.

Jacobson’s critics condemned the lawsuit as an attack on free speech and scientific research. According to Jacobson, the media and critical reaction that followed disparaged his reputation and that of his co-authors.

Jacobson’s decision to drop the lawsuit came shortly after a hearing in Superior Court in Washington, DC on February 20. The court heard oral arguments from the defendant, who argued that the lawsuit was a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) and urged the District’s anti-SLAPP law to be dismissed.

In his public statement, he wrote that the prosecution was never intended to stifle academic debate; rather, Jacobson said he aimed to correct the scientific record.

“Although I did not manage to have the scientific file in the [Clack] corrected article, I brought to light the false claims so that at least some people reading [the Clack paper] will be aware of factually inaccurate statements, ”Jacobson wrote.

In a written statement to the Daily, Jacobson explained the correspondence between him, Clack and PNAS. Jacobson wrote that he requested that Clack et al. make a list of factual corrections to the article both “before and after publication” to correct the scientific record. Clack et al. refused to publish the corrections.

“He deliberately chose not to correct factual errors and to maximize the damage done to the reputations of two Stanford University students on our article, myself and a UC Berkeley researcher by disseminating his article widely. Jacobson wrote.

In addition, Jacobson also requested that PNAS investigate the allegations of factual errors in the Clack document.

“The editor of PNAS, who has since been dismissed, refused, and PNAS lawyers claimed the reason was because PNAS is not” bound by the editorial guidelines “posted on their own site. Web, ”Jacobson said.

The Daily contacted a spokesperson for NAS, who said the Academy had no further comment at the time of publication.

Clack did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment.

Jacobson has since released a new item respond to the claims of the Clack document and reiterate the feasibility of using 100 percent clean energy for a stable electricity grid.

In his public statement, Jacobson also conceded that future litigation would take time and be costly. As such, Jacobson said, he withdrew the lawsuit because he anticipates that pursuing the case would be unproductive.

“There may be no end to this case for years to come,” Jacobson said. “After weighing the pros and cons, I see that I no longer have any reason to fight this battle. I think it’s best to use my time to continue to help solve pressing climate and air pollution issues. ”


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