News bites: Isaac drives up oil prices, a climate change Scopes trial (maybe), and more

Bloomberg reports that oil prices spiked Monday as Tropical Storm Isaac — a likely hurricane-in-waiting — threatens the Gulf Coast.

Prices rose as much as $1.57 per barrel, to $97.72, in electronic trading Monday morning, Bloomberg reports. The storm has led to the suspension of about a fourth of Gulf of Mexico oil production.

The Houston Chronicle reports that some refineries are likely to shut down as well.

The Associated Press reports that Greenpeace activists “intercepted a ship carrying Russian oil workers to a floating oil platform in Russia’s Arctic.”

“Greenpeace said in a statement on Monday that 14 activists chained themselves to the anchor chain of the vessel which was carrying Gazprom’s workers to the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea,” AP reports.

The New York Times explores climate scientist Michael Mann’s possible defamation lawsuit against the National Review.

The magazine claimed Mann’s famous “hockey stick” chart — which reconstructs the last thousand years of global temperatures, with a sharp post-industrial spike — is fraudulent.

From the Times:

Like the original Scopes “monkey trial” or, more recently, the legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8 — a case already transformed into a play — any hockey stick trial would be both well financed and extremely high-profile. Issues of free scientific inquiry and free speech, as well as parsing of the word “fraudulent,” would likely dominate the proceedings.

And while the business of getting a trial together tends to be slower than the business of electing a president, the prospect of a courtroom defense of climate science — or of the right of opponents to call it fraudulent — might just nudge the issue into a little more prominence in the national campaign.

Climate skeptics have long attacked Mann, but multiple reviews have cleared him of academic fraud.