A judge in British Columbia dismissed all charges against climate change skeptic Dr. Tim Ball, in what Ball calls a major win for free speech in an era where the effort to stifle politically incorrect opinions is “endemic.”
On Tuesday, Judge Ronald Skolrood dismissed the charges aimed at Ball by Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver, who is also leader of the Green Party in British Columbia and has a long affiliation with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Why was Weaver targeting Ball in court?
“The article (Ball authored) on Weaver was saying that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had so directed the focus of climate research and all of the funding by the way – we’re talking billions of American dollars towards CO2 and human-caused climate change. So for 30 years, there’s been no real advancement in our understanding of climate,” said Ball, a former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg and the author of numerous books on climate science.
The trouble started soon after that article ran.
“The mistake I made was that after an interview with Weaver, I made some comments that I didn’t fully substantiate. And that’s what triggered the lawsuit,” said Ball.
“As soon as I got the lawsuit, I sent him a letter of apology for those unsubstantiated comments. That wasn’t enough for him to drop the lawsuit. He took it all the way,” added Ball.
Ball says Weaver relishes portraying himself as a victim.
“To give you a measure of what we’re dealing with, he posted that apology letter of mine on a wall in his academic office that is labeled the ‘Wall of Hate,'” said Ball.
“He’s labeled it that because he shows it to students to say, ‘Look, here’s all the people that hate me and this is what I have to go through to defend you and defend the planet from these climate change deniers,” said Ball.
Ball says his fierce participation in the climate debate is about science, not politics or hate.
“It’s laughable. I don’t hate him . What I dislike is the fact he’s using climate science for a political agenda,” added Ball.
“The judge heard all of that, heard about the ‘Wall of Fate,’ and came forward with his judgment of total dismissal of Weaver’s claims. By the way, when we got to the courtroom, (Weaver) didn’t present a single witness,” said Ball.
Ball still faces charges in a lawsuit filed by Dr. Michael Mann, the originator of the the hockey stick explanation of allegedly rising global temperatures. Ball gave a talk in Manitoba that was highly critical of the hockey stick theory and the legal papers came flying.
“Within 12 hours, a lawsuit was filed on Michael Mann’s behalf. Here’s an American living in Pennsylvania filing a lawsuit in in British Columbia for an event that occurred in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This is what they call jurisdictional shopping. It’s a measure to me of the extent to which they’re using the law to silence people,” said Ball.
Ball is being sued under what are known as SLAPP laws, which stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and have been used to chill political speech. Eight of ten Canadian provinces have anti-SLAPP laws, but British Columbia recently rescinded it’s anti-SLAPP provisions, allowing the suit to proceed there.
Ball says Americans and Canadians need to fight back against this assault on speech rights.
“The use of the law to silence people is becoming endemic,” he said, noting that lawsuits are often aimed at media outlets who publish material critical of the climate change movement.
“When you start to lose an argument, you start to attack the individual. That’s what these lawsuits are, they’re silencing the individual. But they have a residual effect. People have said to me, ‘We wouldn’t go through what you’re going through, so we’re going to keep our mouths shut,” said Ball.
He says he hears some version of that fear on a regular basis.
“I’ve had scientists say to me, ‘We agree with you but we won’t say anything because we’ll lose our jobs,” said Ball. “Scientists have said to me, ‘Look, we’re Democrats or socialists . Even though we agree with you, we’re not going to say that because immediately we’ll be cast as right wing conservatives,'” said Ball.
When asked if this legal and financial road of hardship has been worth it, Ball says it’s complicated.
“It really doesn’t matter now. I’m in this and I’m not going to quit. I’m going to move forward with it. Truth be known, if I knew what I was going to go through, I probably wouldn’t have done it again,” said Ball.
“But of course, as Edmund Burke famously said that evil triumph when good people stand idly by,” said Ball.