Charles Monnett was a scientist working in the Arctic region. Young and idealistic, Monnet was excited about the prospects of doing work that could positively influence discussions about the region.
“As a young person fresh out of graduate school, I was idealistic, and I thought that it would all be about the truth,” Monnett said to NPR.
Monnett soon found that outside forces would influence the trajectory of his career. In 2004, he reported that he had witnessed drowned polar bears while flying in the Arctic to observe whales. His report of the drowned polar bears became a central symbol for climate change discussions and was referenced by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth.
In 2010, Monnett became the subject of an internal investigation responding to allegations of scientific misconduct. Later cleared of any wrongdoing, Monnett was dismissed for leaking internal government documents.
Feeling the actions of the Department of the Interior and the Office of the Inspector General were desperate attempts to retaliate against him for his political leanings and position on climate change, Monnett filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that the emails he had sent exposed that the agency was breaking the law in their rush to grant Arctic offshore drilling permits.
Monnett will now receive a $100,000 dollar settlement from the government for the lawsuit.
“Whistleblowers serve a valuable role in society and form a powerful deterrent to corruption in government,” commented Christopher Paulos, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas of whistleblower and False Claims Act litigation. “It’s important that these individuals be protected.”
Monnett commented to NPR that he is unsure what the future will hold for him at this point, “I still have some standing in the scientific community. I may continue to play a role in some fashion, particularly in the Arctic. That’s yet to be seen.”