Our work ensures that scientists can conduct, publish, and discuss their research and advocate for science without the threat of political harassment, censorship, or legal intimidation.
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) protects the scientific endeavor by putting its legal expertise to work for scientists who are threatened or silenced due to their findings or fields of study. Our work preserves and expands scientists’ rights and strengthens the legal protections that promote scientific integrity.
How We Protect the Scientific Endeavor
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.
We provide a range of free legal services to scientists, including educating researchers about their legal rights and responsibilities. Our initiatives include:
- Offering legal aid clinics at scientific conferences
- Giving educational workshops and webinars to the research community
- Publishing free resources for scientists and attorneys
In the Trump era, we documented federal and state attacks on science and assisted numerous researchers silenced by the Trump administration. Today, in addition to our ongoing initiatives, we’re focused on restoring scientific integrity and guarding against the return of anti-science ideologies.
During the past decade, we’ve assisted hundreds of scientists and educated thousands more about their rights. We remain the only organization in the United States that provides free legal advice and education to academic and government researchers targeted by groups trying to undermine science and erode scientific integrity.
CSLDF was founded in 2011 by Scott Mandia, Joshua Wolfe, and Charles Zeller. This climate-conscious group came together in response to increasing legal attacks on climate scientists and the immediate need to defray the legal costs of an ideologically-motivated lawsuit against the University of Virginia and pioneering climate scientist Michael Mann.
The group’s initial effort raised over $100,000 to cover Mann’s legal bills. In spring 2014, following three years of litigation, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Mann’s favor.
Following this success, Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard University science historian and author of Merchants of Doubt, and Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground Inc., joined what would become our founding board.
As we grew into a permanent organization, we added to the legal and educational services we offer the climate science community and began assisting researchers studying other environmental issues.
Our staff and a committed group of pro bono attorneys, law professors, interns, and volunteers achieve and advance our mission of protecting the scientific endeavor.
Meet the Driving Forces Behind CSLDF
We’re a focused, tenacious, and passionate group. Our diverse team includes lawyers, scientists, professors, filmmakers, media professionals, and fundraising experts.
Our attorneys are happy to talk with journalists about our work and topics at the intersection of climate and the law.
Take a Stand for Science
Science is under sustained attack. Your support help us fight for scientists and defend scientific integrity.