The rise of anti-science cyber bullying

Morano says climate scientists “deserve to be publicly flogged.”

Researchers must purge e-mail in-boxes daily of threatening correspondence, simply part of the job of being a climate scientist

That’s the subhed for a new Scientific American piece on cyber bullying.  It comes fast on the heels of “Bullying, lies and the rise of right-wing climate denial,” the first part of the terrific series by Clive Hamilton, reprinted below (followed by an excerpt of the SciAm piece):

Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at Australia’s Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethic, is the author of the forthcoming book “Requiem for a Species.”

Two years ago the Labor Party won a decisive election victory in part by riding a public mood demanding action on climate change after years of stonewalling.

The new Government promised to spearhead world efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today it’s on the run, retreating from a surge of militant anti-climate activism that believes climate science is a left-wing plot aimed at promoting elites, wrecking the economy and screwing the little man. What happened?

Part 1: Climate cyber-bullying

Australia’s most distinguished climate scientists have become the target of a new form of cyber-bullying aimed at driving them out of the public debate.

In recent months, each time they enter the public debate through a newspaper article or radio interview these scientists are immediately subjected to a torrent of aggressive, abusive and, at times, threatening emails. Apart from the volume and viciousness of the emails, the campaign has two features – it is mostly anonymous and it appears to be orchestrated.

The messages are typically peppered with insults. One scientist was called a “Loudmouth, arrogant, conceited, ignorant wanker”.

The emails frequently accuse the scientists of being frauds who manipulate their research in order to receive funding, such as this one to Ben McNeil at the UNSW:

“It’s so obvious you are an activist going along with the climate change lie to protect your very lucrative employment contract.”

They often blame the recipients of being guilty of crimes, as in this one received by Professor David Karoly at the University of Melbourne:

“It is probably not to (sic) extreme to suggest that your actions (deceitful) were so criminal to be compared with Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. It is called treason and genocide.

“Oh, as a scientist, you have destroyed peoples trust in my profession. You are a criminal . Lest we forget.”

Receiving emails like these is unsettling and at times disturbing, which of course is the point. They become worrying when they cross the line to personal threats, such as these sent to Professor Andy Pitman at the UNSW:

“There will be a day of facing the music for the Pitman type frauds… Pitman you are a f**king fool!”

And this one:

“If we see you continue, we will get extremely organised and precise against you.”

When Pitman politely replied to the last, the response was more aggressive:

“F**k off mate, stop the personal attacks. Just do your science or you will end up collateral damage in the war, GET IT.”

All threats have to be taken seriously, and at times warrant calling in the police. The police are able to trace anonymous emails to their sources and take action against those who send them. The police are now advising those who received abusive and threatening emails to resist the immediate urge to delete them and keep them in a separate folder for future reference.

Climate campaigners have also noticed a surge in the frequency and virulence of this new form of cyber-bullying. The following was received by a young woman (who asked that her name not be used):

“Did you want to offer your children to be brutally gang-raped and then horribly tortured before being reminded of their parents socialist beliefs and actions?

“Burn in hell. Or in the main street, when the Australian public finally lynchs you.”

Another campaigner opened her inbox to read this:

“F**k off!!!

“Or you will be chased down the street with burning stakes and hung from your f**king neck, until you are dead, dead, dead!

“F**k you little pieces of sh*t, show youselves in public!!!”

Greens Senator Christine Milne told me that senators’ inboxes are bombarded every day by climate deniers and extremists, so that now they are running at least 10 to one against those who call for action on climate change.

She describes it as a “well-organised campaign of strident, offensive and insulting emails that go well beyond the bounds of the normal cut and thrust of politics”.

It was widely reported that in the days before the Liberal Party leadership challenge last November, MPs were blitzed with emails from climate deniers. Some MPs were spooked into voting for Tony Abbott, the only one of the three contenders who had repudiated climate science. Australia’s alternative government is now led by climate deniers.

Journalists hit

Journalists too have become the victims of cyber-bullying. I have spoken to several, off the record, who have told of torrents of abusive emails when they report on climate change, including some sufficiently threatening for them to consult their supervisors and consider police action.

One was particularly disturbed at references to his wife. Another received the following from someone who gave his name and identified himself as medical representative at major pharmaceutical’s company:

“You sad sack of s**t. It’s ok to trash climate change sceptics yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, you become a vindictive, nasty piece of s**t not able to face the fact that you’re wrong about climate change and you’re reputation is now trash.”

Anonymous emails are usually more graphic.

“Your mother was a goat f**ker!!!!!! Your father was a turd!!!!!!! You will be one of the first taken out in the revolution!!!!!!!! Your head will be on a stake!! C**t!”

Few of those on the receiving end of this hatred doubt that the emails are being orchestrated. Scores of abusive emails over a few hours are unlikely to be the product of a large number of individuals spontaneously making the effort to track down an email address and pour forth their rage.

While some individuals act alone, increasingly the attacks are arranged by one or more denialist organisations. It’s fair to assume operatives in these organisations constantly monitor the media and, when a story or interview they don’t like appears, send messages out to lists of supporters, linking to the comments, providing the scientist’s email address and urging them to let him or her know what they think.

One or two of the cyber-bullies have hinted at the level of organisation, with one following an abusive rant with the comment: “Copies of my e-mails to you are also being passed out to a huge network for future reference.”

Net rage and free speech
The purpose of this new form of cyber-bullying seems clear; it is to upset and intimidate the targets, making them reluctant to participate further in the climate change debate or to change what they say. While the internet is often held up as the instrument of free speech, it is often used for the opposite purpose, to drive people out of the public debate.

Unlike the letters pages of newspapers, on the internet anonymity is accepted and the gate-keepers, where they exist, are more lax, so the normal constraints on social discourse do not apply. On the internet, the demons of the human psyche find a play-ground.

If a group attempts to have a considered discussion about climate science on an open forum it is very soon deluged with enraged attacks on climate science, sometimes linking for authority to well-known denialist websites. Most scientists long ago stopped attempting to correct the mish-mash of absurd misrepresentations and lies in web “discussions”.

Is the new campaign of cyber-bullying working? Receiving a large number of offensive emails certainly wears most people down. Some scientists and journalists probably do change what they say or withdraw from debate. Others have strategies for dealing with the abuse-never replying, deleting without reading or swapping loony emails with colleagues, and cultivating a thick skin.

The effect of the cyber-bullying campaign on some scientists-including those I have mentioned-is quite opposite to the intended one. The attempts at intimidation have only made them more resolved to keep talking to the public about their research. Their courage under fire stands in contrast to the cowardice of the anonymous emailers.

Clive Hamilton

JR:  And here’s an excerpt from the Scientific American piece by Douglas Fischer and The Daily Climate:

The e-mails come thick and fast every time NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt appears in the press.

Rude and crass e-mails. E-mails calling him a fraud, a cheat, a scumbag and much worse.

To Schmidt and other researchers purging their inboxes daily of such correspondence, the barrage is simply part of the job of being a climate scientist. But others see the messages as threats and intimidation””cyber-bullying meant to shut down debate and cow scientists into limiting their participation in the public discourse.

“I get a lot of hate mail,” said Schmidt, a climate modeler at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies who also runs, a website devoted to debunking myths and errors about climate change. “I get a lot of praise mail, but pretty much every time I have a quote in a mainstream publication I’ll get a string of emails from various people accusing me of various misdemeanors and fantasizing about my life in prison.”

Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has a 19-page document of “extremely foul, nasty, abusive” e-mails he’s received just since November….

The bullying has long been part of life for many climate scientists. Retired NCAR climate scientist Tom Wigley said he’s been fighting it for the last 20 years or more. Most of the e-mails appear to be the work of frustrated individuals, ranting into the ether, scientists say. But some appear to be the work of coordinated campaigns, and many, scientists say, appear to be taking their cue from influential anti-climate change advocates like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and

Scientists say the bullying, if anything, emboldens them. But it does have a cost.

Organized, “McCarthyite” tactics aimed at specific scientists by various groups can be stressful, Schmidt said. “Frivolous” Freedom of Information Act requests can tie up considerable quantities of researchers’ time.

But worst of all, he said, are “intimidating letters” from congressional members threatening dire consequences to scientists working on climate change.

“That is chilling the work of science in the agencies,” Schmidt said. “It’s certainly very off-putting for scientists who want to talk about their stuff in public but fear the political consequences.”

“Nobody wants to create an enemy on the Hill.”

For the most part, the rants have remained just that – rants. Threats of physical harm remain rare and are usually discounted, scientists say. “These people don’t really know you,” Schmidt added. “They’re not really talking about you. You’re just a symbol that has an e-mail address.”

The pace picked up late last year, when several years’ worth of stolen correspondence among climate scientists were published on the Web. The onslaught intensified as errors in the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s most recent report surfaced in January and policy makers and reporters began to question what has become the gold standard of climate science.

What’s clear is the e-mails show anger and hostility. There’s no effort to ask questions or seek what Trenberth called “the truth.” Scientists aren’t the only target; journalists covering the issue also routinely find their inbox stuffed with epithets.

“They do not tend to be reasonable,” said Rudy Baum, editor-in-chief of Chemical and Engineering News, who has been covering science for the magazine for 30 years. “They do not seem to be interested in dialogue. They are shrill, they are unfriendly, and they are bullying.”

… That neither the stolen correspondence nor the minor IPCC errors undermine the underlying science of climate change hasn’t checked the onslaught.

Trenberth says that is the most dispiriting aspect of the e-mails: Facts don’t carry more weight in the public debate. The nature of public discourse – be it climate change or health care – has changed; information that does not fit one’s worldview is now discounted or rejected.

Increasingly,” wrote Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. in the Miami Herald recently, “we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth.”

Added Trenberth: “In science there’s a whole lot of facts and basic information on the nature of climate change, but it’s not being treated that way. It’s being treated as opinion.”

… Determining whether any given e-mail is part of an organized campaign is difficult, said Richard Littlemore, editor of DeSmog Blog and author of Climate Cover-up, an investigation of industry’s effort to undermine climate science.

But it’s not happenstance, he said. The bullying doesn’t start serendipitously or from scratch.

It starts with a paid campaigner – Morano; the International Climate Science Coalition’s Tom Harris; publisher and Fox News commentator Steve Milloy – and filters out from there, Littlemore said.

“They’re the PR guys and they’re in the game and taking money for what they do,” he said. “They also wind up recruiting other folks…. In many ways they’re just dupes and sincerely believe they’re standing up for democracy.”

“They’re people whose world view is being disrupted by climate scientists,” Littlemore added. “Sometimes they end up being the most effective and vitriolic.”

Morano, for his part, is unapologetic in his efforts to knock climate science down a notch.

He doesn’t wish anyone harm. But he sees opportunity. “I seriously believe we should kick them while they’re down,” he said. “They deserve to be publicly flogged.”

Public flogging?  Uhh, that would extreme harm.

The anti-science crowd goes ballistic over even a hint of a threat of violence against them — even by comments in one’s lbog (see WattsUpWithThat labels people who advocate putting a price on global warming pollution as “criminal,” the same as “murdering people”).

Morano needs to retract this statement.  The “He doesn’t wish anyone harm” is not a direct quote.  The “publicly flogged” is.

Related Post:

56 Responses to The rise of anti-science cyber bullying

  1. Lacking anything like logic, principles, evidence or facts, it is unsurprising — though incredibly sad — that the deniers resort to blatant, vicious ideology.

    For the record, the resort to threats is the ‘fallacy of the stick’, the argumentum ad baculum.

  2. MapleLeaf says:

    I agree, Morano’s reference to “flogging” is over the line and is inciting people to be violent. What a malicious and nasty piece of work Morano is. Lawyer please.

  3. Mike Monett says:

    Yes, incredibly sad, and today they’ve begun viciously chain-blogging about an alleged murder-suicide in Argentina last week, where the family was supposedly distraught over climate change.

    I just tracked down the original news story, from Saturday (February 27th) and a Buenos Airies daily called “The Clarin”:

    Una beba sobrevivo 3 dias…

    However, I understand very little Spanish, so I cannot compare this original account to what the right-wingers are saying today.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Arguments and talking points from the denialist noise machine appeal to emotion. This is not surprising at all.

    Remember, we know their efforts will be ramping up even more as the ACES vote approaches. Expect more of this from the fascists and corporatists. And the parroting of these talking points from the tools who spread the the fascists’ and corporatists’ word. For free.



  5. Dano says:

    Oops. That was me.



  6. Richard Brenne says:

    Everyone has an appropriate, legal, peaceful place in the battle for the survival of billions including all future generations. The key to this battle is to help the public, media and policy-makers understand the essence of what climate change scientists understand.

    You might have the calling to form an organization that provides the antidote to the deeply disturbing trend Joe writes about in this post.

    Let’s say a scientist like Dr. Moralcourage puts all abusive e-mails into a folder. There is a funded non-profit whose job it is to answer each of the e-mails.

    Something like: “You have sent Dr. Moralcourage an abusive e-mail and we are following up with all such e-mails, and will continue to follow up.”

    Your e-mails to Dr. Moralcourage will not be answered as long as there is any profanity, name-calling or threats. They will instead be sent to us.

    Rather than hiding behind the cowardice of anonymity, do you wish to become a living, breathing, thinking human being as those you’ve attempted to bully, harass, abuse and threaten are? Do you wish to give us your real name and contact information?

    Are you doing this as part of an orchestrated campaign? If so, what is the organization? Where do they receive their funding? Who heads the organization? What is their contact information? Who suggested to you that you send this e-mail?

    Any threats will be immediately sent to the FBI (who needs to assign a division to this), who are keeping all threatening e-mails indefinitely. This is not a threat to you. It is common sense, common courtesy and the law.

    Also, have you considered getting a life?”

    Of course appropriate links, etc can also be included. Is this your calling to be a part of the appropriate antidote to this anti-science, threatening, bullying, intimidating and dangerous trend? If so you might want to mention that here in these comments.

  7. DavidCOG says:

    Mike Monett,

    Here’s Google’s translation – not perfect, but:

    I saw this story spreading around the hysteria-o-sphere earlier today with the usual gloating joy that the Deniers bring to any story that confirms some part of their idiotic ranting: ‘global warming as cult’ on this occasion.

    Looks like this poor family had reason for anxiety in a country suffering the ‘classic’ double punch from climate change:

    * Drought sucks life from Argentina’s farms.

    * Too much rainfall threatening Argentina’s record soybean crop.

  8. fj2 says:

    Good post.

    Really describes what those exposed to public discourse have to deal with.

  9. Fire Mountain says:

    The people who send these messages are the cultural and in some cases literal children of the Ku Klux Klan and John Birchers, with a long tradition of verbal and physical violence. And like their forebears, they are brave wrapped in a sheet of anonymity or in a crowd. Otherwise they are cowards, the typical inner core of a bully. One hopes they remain so and do not carry out their threats of violence. If they do, I hope Beck and his fellow Saudi assets at F–ks Noise Channel are called to account.

  10. Mike#22 says:

    Joe, comment #10 need to be moderated.

    [JR: Done!]

  11. John McCormick says:

    Morano has become the star in the movie trailer of the yet to be released climate change horror film:

    “Blood on Your Hands”

    He is the [snip] villain creeping around the municipal water system (aka — the source of reliable information on the science of climate change) with his bottle of dioxin and determined to poison America’s fledgling effort to make sense of our complicity in this global warming world.


    [JR: I think we’ll need to keep the analogies a bit more moderate.]

    Morano intends to shut up logical and reasoned discussion of means to mitigate a climate change threat to our children and grandchildren.

    We actually need the Moranos or are they Moronos to keep spouting their venom to show the rest of us how deranged they really are.

    John McCormick

  12. dhogaza says:

    Yes, incredibly sad, and today they’ve begun viciously chain-blogging about an alleged murder-suicide in Argentina last week, where the family was supposedly distraught over climate change.

    However, I understand very little Spanish, so I cannot compare this original account to what the right-wingers are saying today.

    Older man, younger woman, he was totally domineering, jealous, etc. They weren’t seen much around the neighborhood. The woman’s brother said something about the guy being obsessed with global warming, and there was a suicide note that expressed their worries about global warming and the fact that “presidents do nothing”, by which I presume he means world leaders.

    Sounds like a crazy couple that would’ve been obsessed about something.

    BTW the headline is that their baby girl survived three days with a bullet wound to the breast, alone, in the house with the three bodies of the parents and her 2 year old brother. “Una beba sobrevivo 3 dias…” – a baby girl survived three days …

    Anyway that’s a distillation from my half-assed spanish with a bit of help from wordref, since my normal travel vocabulary doesn’t cover suicidal crazy people and the details of crime scenes that “freeze the blood” of the police. My vocabulary’s more like “a beer, please” and “another, please” …

    I think I want to avoid whatever spin the RW denialbots are putting on this. Exploiting the sad death of two obviously crazy parents and an innocent child sounds about up to par though.

  13. Jeff Huggins says:

    Getting Real

    I’ve gotten threats at times, and nasty e-mails, one of them only a few days ago from someone who must have read a post of mine on Climate Progress, because he (or she) referred to it amidst the profanity, misspellings, and incredibly poor logic.

    And I’m just me, not at all a public figure or IPCC scientist or etc.

    But I think we need to get real. It’s not gonna stop — and many people won’t pay attention to facts — so sufficient change is not gonna happen until we, and large chunks of the public, start to speak with their pocketbooks. When a few universities stop buying any gasoline from ExxonMobil, and a few major pension funds sell their ExxonMobil shares, and ten million people stop buying ExxonMobil gasoline and start wearing buttons saying so, then (after a period of heightened silly anonymous foul-mouthed e-mails in the in-box of every respectable scientist and activist) things will start to change.

    Let’s be clear: When the money machines that want us to continue using oil and coal and etc. start to see their stock being sold and sales begin to diminish, and reputations tarnished even more than they are already, then they will begin to change their tunes — perhaps slowly, but still — and when responsible advertisers start to bag Glenn Beck and Hannity and so forth, they too will start to shift, and on down the line, and pretty soon most of those people who are organized to send anonymous foul-mouthed nonsensical e-mails will stop doing it.

    Follow the money. Period. And ACT on that understanding. If we don’t get that by now, we haven’t been paying attention. What good will it do to clearly convey all the science if we don’t also understand, and deal with, these elements/aspects/dynamics that reflect certain parts of human nature.

    Get this: The most profitable company in the U.S., which has well over ten thousand scientists working for it, many of them PhDs, is the largest confuser and delayer, and one of the least responsible companies, when it comes to climate change. That is, of course, ExxonMobil. Do any of us really think that relevant ExxonMobil scientists don’t understand that climate change is real, and a big problem? Do any of us REALLY think that?

    No, of course not.

    And, do any of us really think that there will always be large volumes of organized foul-mouthed anonymous e-mails once a few of those companies and their industry associations (e.g., the API) stop funding or encouraging those things?

    No, of course not.

    So — we are barking too much up the wrong trees, I think, or at least not spending enough time on some vital trees. Follow the money. Take business away from the key sources. Put the spotlight on them, in a way that reduces their business. And then begin to watch what happens (after a quick flurry of push-back, of course, during which we’ll just have to close our eyes and change our e-mail addresses).

    Let’s get real.



  14. fj2 says:

    Years ago, Lady Bird Johnson civilized and beautified the vast space surrounding our nation’s highways.

    The same has to be done for cyberspace as well.

  15. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Do you keep and log your abusive E mails. Could be relevant some time.
    Just to document the timing if nothing else.

    [JR: Oh man, they are as bad as what is reported here. I delete them. But I do have all the comments somewhere in the spam filter.]

  16. David Gould says:

    I think that what the ‘climate wars’ have demonstrated is that the internet has not helped in the communication of science. It was known long before the internet age that lies and slander could be communicated more easily than the truth. The internet has magnified this unfortunate difference.

    It has also created places where people can continuely get their worldviews reinforced rather than challenged. If the only people who you talked to were your friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours you would in all likelihood get some spread of views on any particular issue. Even if you did not, it would be difficult to conclude from such a small sample that lots of people around the world agreed with those views.

    However, the internet means that people tend to always speak with people who agree with them and it demonstrates that there are *lots* of people who agree with them.

    This is a recipe for disaster in communicating science to the public when that science has the potential to be marketed as controversial. Once someone starts to doubt, they are pushed more and more into doubting by the websites that they are likely to frequent. The debate becomes polarised. And that is one of the reasons why there is so much hate mail.

    It should be noted that this means that once someone ‘chooses a side’ so to speak, there is very little chance of them ever moving to the other side.

  17. Leif says:

    I believe that it was Mark Twain that said: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is tying it’s shoes.”

    It does appear that “push is coming to shove” however. Nature bats last and my feeling is that “Nature” is going to hit one out of the park this year. If Bastardi can predict, so can I.

    Dr. Joe and commentators, thank you all for your efforts and tenacity in the face of irrational dogma and physical threats.

    Two Palms Up, Leif

  18. Dano says:

    I agree with Richard Brenne.

    Folks who get these spew e-mails should save them and do something with them, like keep them where they can get “released by a whistleblower”…er…hacked so they can be made public. Line after line of nutter spew might make some heads turn.



  19. Lou Grinzo says:

    Bill McKibben mentioned in his recent “OJ” piece the similar e-mail he’s been getting for some time, which should surprise no one and disgust everyone.

    I’ve said it before, and I think it bears repeating: How can anyone watching this sad state of affairs unfold not conclude that there will be violence? Someone, somewhere who thinks like the people who send these e-mails will get so worked up that he or she (oh, hell, who am I kidding–it will be a he) will take the next horrid step.

    And yes, as others and I have pointed out many times before, this will only get worse as we collectively attempt to take some meaningful action to reduce our CO2 emissions. The people who send the kind of e-mail quoted in Joe’s post think they’re on a crusade to save themselves and their families from an unspeakably evil Other. As long as that’s their perception, no matter how absurdly and obviously wrong it is, then they’ll behave in accordance with it. It’s a classic example of the management axiom “perception is reality”.

    And I have no freaking idea how to end this mess.

  20. Bruce says:

    Adding to what Dano@18 writes:
    Can/should scientists collect and pool these emails for tracing analysis and traffic analysis by an e-mail savvy researcher?
    As much as we find signals in the noise of climate records, we can find signals in the noise of these emails.

  21. PeterW says:

    I agree with Lou. It only takes one nutcase with a gun or bomb to take this to the next level. Lord knows America has a history of this sort of thing. I hope I’m very wrong on this.

    I also get the feeling that these people are trying to provoke a negative response that they can spin.

  22. doug says:

    “Lacking anything like logic, principles, evidence or facts, it is unsurprising — though incredibly sad — that the deniers resort to blatant, vicious ideology.”

    Not sad for them. Bullying appears to be a winning strategy in a world where progressives/climate scientists refuse to get tough and stand up for themselves and instead resort to hiding their lunch money in their socks, hoping the bullies won’t find it. Progressives always seem to assume that having “logic, principles, and evidence of facts ” on their side will somehow allow them to transcend what is essentially a brutal and violent world. But “inner qualities” didn’t make them as popular as the beautiful people in high school, did they? You’d think they’d have learned by now that the majority of the world’s people don’t value these things. Its time they learned to get dirty with the rest of brute humanity or face irrelevance and ultimately, extinction.

  23. Leif says:

    For the past few weeks I have been exploring the roll of the Military in the coming showdown. I feel that there is fertile ground here that requires much more gray matter than I can bring to the subject.

    It has been noted before that a “WW II” effort will be required to achieve meaningful mitigation and I whole heartedly agree. For the record I state that I have been a life long pacifist and the Military/Industrial complex has not been high on my list. With that said, it is clear to me that the Military will have a huge roll to play in the coming, hopefully avoidable, apocalypse.

    First, it may be that the Military will be the only thing that can get the attention of the Tin-hats and prevent them from throwing sand in the gears of mitigation.

    Second: Only the military has the “weight” to transform industry, issue rationing, focus research and development, deploy technology, draft a work force, and even has a budget sufficient to “get it done.”

    3: The Military has admitted that climatic disruption is a national security issue.

    4: Secretary of State Clinton recently mentioned that the Military R&D was allocated money for sustainable mitigation. A drop in the bucket but a drop none the less.

    5: Once established the military will do what ever it takes to remain relevant.

    All this and more implies to me that the military will be a player when push comes to shove which looks to be any day now, IMO.
    I do see one stumbling block, however, I do not believe that it will be a show stopper. That is, I feel that the Military will have to transform at least a portion of itself into a “Humanitarian Force” instead of the “Killing Force” of the present. That would not be hard to do though. The Military has adjusted to Blacks, woman, G&L, surely they can adapt to “Nice”… The Military could retain a token “Kill” posture for old time sake for some time to come. On the other hand , I believe a that serious effort of improving the standard of sustainable living not only here but around the world will significantly lower hostilities to the point of nothing more than police actions in a few years. Thus making mitigating efforts self sustaining.

    There is lots more to explore on this front but you get my drift.

    Gray Panther.

    Gosh. Just thinking about the military has turned me Militant. Curious.

  24. wag says:

    you have to see this one to believe it: Anthony Watts uses an article from 1989 to prove there’s no global warming.

  25. Heraclitus says:

    I think David Gould #16 is right about the polarisation of the Internet, but as well as polarising views it also serves to exclude many from the debate. It is clear that there is a deliberate attempt to intimidate those who speak out on climate change, but the visciousness of the ‘debate’ also has the effect (and I don’t know if this is deliberate as well, but I suspect not) of driving many decent minded people away from engaging with the issues.

    It seems to me that the biggest problem we face is not so much from the extremists who attempt to sabotage any rational discussion, but from the vast majority of people who recognise that climate change is a serious issue but are too caught up in coping with day-to-day life to be able to face up to the consequences of this reality. The nature of the language and views that dominate most blogs is so alienating that it just gives another excuse for decent people to remove themselves from the debate.

  26. Joe,

    For the last couple years, we’ve been frequenting the SciGuy blog @ the Houston Chronicle doing our layman best to present the climate science from RealClimate, Climate Progress, Open Mind, James Hansen @ Columbia, NASA GISS, NOAA, et al, & have been frequently, if not innocently, gang-banged. Thank Fortuna our email address was never shared, & thick-skin is familial.

    However, most disturbing have been the pernicious, denigrating ad homs against the reputation & character of many respected, leading climate scientists & experts from James Hansen to Michael Mann to Gavin Schmidt &, yes, even mild-mannered Joseph Romm, by card-carrying members of the Texas Taliban, all the while canonizing the machinations of the captains & lieutenants of anti-science denial like, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, Roger Pielke Jr., Joe D’Aleo, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Fred Singer, Lord Monckton, Michael Crichton, & EXXOM denier-in-chief, James Inhofe.

    So this behavior is nothing new from the denialosphere, although, as of late, it does appear orchestrated with steroids, what with Copenhagen & Cap & Trade & now EPA regs in the offing & the news media in (unwitting?) collaboration.

    Heard several good ideas here tonight, esp. the database & analysis of attacker emails. Surely, there’s a savvy computer scientist or two lurking in our midst with the disposition, if not the time. Besides alerting us to the principal offenders, it may just come in handy for the FBI, if not the halls of justice.

    And a legal fund to defend & protect our precious limited resource of honest, dedicated, outspoken climate scientists. Now we’re talking.

    Let’s tuit! –IANVS

  27. fj2 says:

    The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences publication:

    “Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response”
    New York City Panel on Climate Change
    2009 Report
    Volume 1195, April 2010

    was originally scheduled for publication January 2010 which keeps being delayed.

    This is a report from the New York Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) which consists of many of the people on the IPCC.

    Perhaps part of the reason for the delay is that they are fine tuning the elimination of errors but, there are probably other reasons as well.

    Projections from the report will be something like by century end four times the number of heat waves of greater intensity with greatly magnified health dangers and failures of services and a 6-foot rise in sea level covering lower Manhattan, large parts of Brooklyn and elsewhere.

    This will provide a major wake-up call to a new environmental reality in the most iconic city in the world that will be very difficult to dispute or ignore and not totally unlike 9/11.

  28. PSU Grad says:

    I think you need to look at this a bit differently. Look at it the way cops do with the illegal drug trade. You don’t want the people actually sending these emails, you want to get their “distribution network”. In this case, the “coordinators” of these attacks.

    Perhaps a suitable cash reward for information leading to the arrest of these “coordinators” for whatever charges might be appropriate.

    I have no doubt the overwhelming majority of the senders are cowards first class, especially the clowns talking about “war”. Start making noises about tracing them back, start offering rewards for information leading to………and watch the whole thing fall apart.

    It’s an idea.

  29. fj2 says:

    #16. David Gould, “I think that what the ‘climate wars’ have demonstrated is that the internet has not helped in the communication of science.”


    Do think about this a little more.

  30. fj2 says:

    In today’s (3/3/2010) New York Times

    Gavin A. Schmidt
    Senior Climatologist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies

    The answer is simple, he said.

    “Good science,” he said, “is the best revenge.”

  31. Chris Dudley says:

    Andy Revkin has posted a little about the response that followed Limbaugh’s comments about his population writings. In that case incitement certainly seemed to be the intent. We see many cases of violence against ObGyns who provide abortions including murdering a man in church. Much of that seems to be pushed by politician who seek to raise the profile of the issue to get votes and campaign contributions.

    In the case of climate science, the juice comes first from the oil and coal lobby and greases up the political organization. We know that these industries are pretty much OK with dead miners and oil rig workers so we might expect the same sort of trajectory.

  32. tonym says:

    this isn’t new – i’ve been getting threatening emails from you hippies for years.

  33. Wit's End says:

    Speaking of coordinated cyber attacks, I got an anonymous message last night from a concern troll trying to cast aspersions on the founder of the Coffee Party which I reproduced here:
    The parallels to climate change disinformation campaigns are disturbing and makes me wonder how much of it is really being funded, and by whom.

  34. Dano says:

    The parallels to climate change disinformation campaigns are disturbing and makes me wonder how much of it is really being funded, and by whom.

    You know. Follow the money. Follow the money regarding the USDA-FDA considering allowing GMO soy to be mixed with organic food. See who is for it. Same thing. Capital and profit. Care and risk is on the other side.



  35. Berbalang says:

    I have to agree that at some point the military is going to step in when the civilian sector doesn’t get its act together on dealing with global warming.

    The professional deniers know that the science behind global warming is good. The goal is to delay action until it is too late and adapt. The adaption they have in mind will leave us totally dependent on oil and coal, but since the planet will be pretty much lifeless at that point, they can mine and drill wherever they want without the environment getting in the way.

    And the professional deniers do indeed regard the people who do their dirty work for them for free as “useful idiots.”

  36. PurpleOzone says:

    Jeff Huggins — I’ve been boycotting ExxonMobil since it was called Esso. Sorry, I forget why, maybe for price-fixing. It hasn’t helped but I’d love to have some company!

  37. PurpleOzone says:

    The scientists who do, or are thought to do, animal experiments have long been harassed this way. There have been incidents of violence, the worst a firebombing of a house.

    Also geologists who were in a remote site in Canada to study a batholith were beset by a young man who was sure they were looking for oil. (Anyone who knows what a batholith is, is laughing.) He tampered with an explosive device to inhibit their work. Fortunately no damage, but it was dangerous.

    Plus the head of the Physical Society was fatally shot in 1955 by a deranged nut.

    I’d been uneasy in the face of threats of violence. Most are bluster, but how do you know?

    The drumbeat of name-calling and denigrations of one’s integrity are abusive. It can’t always be easy to take that stuff.

  38. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    I say can the “world view” excuse. How many people really have world views about atmospheric physics? None that I know of. Look instead to for instance Juan Cole’s article on Swiftboating science.

  39. PurpleOzone says:

    If somebody is inciting or organizing this garbage, shouldn’t it be possible to trace it back or to locate it on the internet?

    Harassment is illegal, is it not, or at least actionable in court? Like organizing the neighbors to write poison pen letters to you, what would that be?

    These are “poison pen” emails.

  40. Jeff Huggins says:

    To PurpleOzone (Comment 35),

    Although you may not realize it, your actions (your personal boycott) have helped. Indeed, if you can estimate the money that you haven’t given to them, you can (by looking at their financial statements) roughly estimate the average amount of money that they haven’t been able to send overseas, spend on X, pay to Z, build more Q, and so forth, on your “behalf”.

    I’ve been boycotting them too, for a number of years now.

    But of course, those singular influences are very small. We just need many, many more people. The reasons are valid … people just need to see and understand them, and then have the courage and will to act (as part of a peaceful boycott).



  41. PurpleOzone says:

    Maybe if a few more of us boycott Exxon, their CEO won’t get a half-billion dollar bonus.

  42. PurpleOzone says:

    Scientists have been receiving vicious emails. The East Anglia emails were hacked. Reference to the vicious emails are made in their emails. However, the data base of stolen emails seem to contain no bullying emails, although scientists are chatting to each other about them.

    So the thieves removed the bullying emails?

  43. Craig says:

    Marc Morano is a scumbag. On his website, he has a link to a NY Times article that contains a quote by Gavin Schmidt. Underneath the link he posted Schmidt’s email.

    He posted his email!

    And the media still offers up Morano as a credible source. He is a thug.

  44. Dennis says:

    This is all starting to remind me of how some people were calling for a toning down of the anti-government rhetoric back in the 1990’s. That rhetoric was getting mean and nasty too. Where did that lead? We got Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing.

  45. Aaron Lewis says:

    I watched too much of the Olympics. One thing that I was reminded of is that the ski sports and the sliding sports (bob sled) and the skating sports have different rules. When athletes change sports, they change governing bodies and the rules that they play by.

    Similarly, science has one set of rules that is different from the rules of politics and advocacy communication. If we go out to play hardball with the advocacy communication crowd, they need to know that we will play by “hardball” rules. They need to know that when they lie, we will shout “Fraud!” in the district attorney’s ear. They need to be sure that we will sue EVERY time they slander and libel. If a Senator states false information about climate science, he needs to know that the Senate ethics will be informed that the Senator lied to the Senate. They need to know that when they harass us, we will get restraining orders from a sympathetic court, and that such court orders have teeth.

    We ARE on the playing field, and the game IS “hardball”. We need to play by hardball rules. Find yourself a good attorney, and explain to him/her, that if they do not help us tell the truth, everyone loses.

  46. Wit's End says:

    Congratulations JR! The denialsphere is going bonkers, you must be doing something right!

    [JR: You can tell your opponents by who they spend most of their time attacking and who they spend most of their time defending! Those folks are so desperate for legitimacy, but then why do they defend the anti-science crowd and attack scientists???]

  47. Joe,

    “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” ~ Cool Hand Luke

    Submitted our comment last evening ~midnight after comment #24 & again this morning (w/o html tags) ~10:24 PDT after comment #44, but still no go. 3rd attempt initiates the Duplicate detected window. Do we have a filter problem or just a lack of trust? thx –IANVS

  48. Jeff Huggins says:

    On the Debate

    I haven’t been keeping track of this “debate” notion, nor of the reasons given for doing it or not doing it.

    But, the following seems to me to be the case:

    Joe, you know the science from all angles. You have, I expect, an excellently “comprehensive” grasp of the current scientific understanding, when it comes to its essentials anyhow, realizing that nobody can have a memory for every single data point of every single paper.

    It’s my sense that you also have a great grasp of the different dimensions of the issue … that is, let’s not confuse the science of global warming itself with the question of what policy solution would or might be best, and so forth. You can tell when someone is saying something silly like, “the problem is so bad, that let’s give up, and by the way free markets can never do any harm”.

    So, unless I’m missing something, I think it’s likely that you should do a debate, as long as the conditions of the debate are such that they favor fact over non-fact, sense over nonsense, explanation over rushed five-second sound bites, calmness and sanity over rush and jabs, and so forth. And of course, as you’ve mentioned, science is not “a vote”, so I’d do away with the vote — “who won?!” — entirely. A “vote” is nonsense, by definition, if the point is to discuss and debate the science and, perhaps, policy options from the standpoint of reasoning and fact.

    So, what you might consider doing is this: Define the sort of conditions (plenty of time, plenty of time to talk and explain, no voting, and so forth) under which a debate/discussion can really, genuinely be a sane and reasoned debate and discussion. Define the scope of topics to be covered. Provide plenty of time. And so forth. And then offer to — and indeed be eager to — debate those matters under those sensible conditions.

    Reason and science and so forth are “on your side”. So, if you can agree on conditions that allow reason and science and so forth to be heard, clearly and calmly, you are in fine shape.

    Anyhow, just a thought.



  49. For the last couple years, we’ve been frequenting the SciGuy blog at the Houston Chronicle doing our layman best to present the climate science from RealClimate, Climate Progress, Open Mind, James Hansen at Columbia, NASA GISS, NOAA, et al, & have been frequently, if not innocently, gang-banged. Thank Fortuna our email address was never shared, & thick-skin is familial.

  50. Chris Winter says:

    PurpleOzone wrote (#42): “So the thieves removed the bullying emails?”

    I don’t think we know who the thieves are yet. But if there were threatening e-mails from deniers in that archive, they certainly would not have been made public.

  51. Catchblue22 says:

    I think we need to shed more light on who is funding this. Where are the offices of these organizations?

    For that matter, where are our libel laws in this? Surely there is some legal remedy for character assassination and libel? If I utter a death threat, this it would be a criminal matter. What if an organization is conspiring to make people utter death threats? Surely this is criminal conspiracy.

    Our modern worldview tends to discount the existence of evil. In watching this unfold, I am coming to think that many of those who are orchestrating this campaign are evil soulless psychopaths who cannot be reasoned with.

  52. Hey Joe,

    You appear to have a big fan named Tom Fuller over at Bart Verheggen’s blog. (Sarcasm)

    [JR: Kind of amazing, no? The term “anti-science” and/or “anti-scientist” does strike me as a better term than most.]

  53. Agreed! Skeptic is far too kind because we scientists are ALWAYS skeptical. I am simply amazed how many non-scientists have no idea of how we think and how rare it is to have the kind of consensus we have about AGW. Sigh…..

  54. Boom says:

    I think that’s good news:
    1. denial
    2. ANGER
    3. bargaining
    4. depression
    5. acceptance

  55. There is a concerted and criminal campaign spearheaded by the fossil fuel industries, via third party organizations they founded, to discredit climate science and confuse the public. They are the leaders who indirectly encourage this kind of criminal harassment and abuse.

    Perhaps if we began filing lawsuits against them, then perhaps this uncivil nonsense would start to wane.

  56. zed ink says:

    Congratulations for running this blog and including the Aussie stuff.. there are links US/Aussie-wise though I don’t have time finger exactly who right now.. would usual suspects pass muster.. :-)

    May interest you folks.. concerning the UK Institute of Physicists submission to the UK Parliamentary Inquiry that the guardian news-site investigation reveals a put-up job by only several members of an energy subcommittee of the IOP’s Science Board, okayed the submission. And yep, a deniosaur from the energy-side looks highly instrumental in this affair.. watch this space..