Australian climate scientists face death threats, cyberbullying

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"Australian climate scientists face death threats, cyberbullying"

I hope readers will help draw attention to this stunning news in today’s Canberra Times:

Australia’s leading climate change scientists are being targeted by a vicious, unrelenting email campaign that has resulted in police investigations of death threats.

The Australian National University has confirmed it moved several high-profile climate scientists, economists and policy researchers into more secure buildings, following explicit threats to their personal safety….

More than 30 researchers across Australia ranging from ecologists and environmental policy experts to meteorologists and atmospheric physicists told The Canberra Times they are receiving a stream of abusive emails threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members.

I hope you will also voice support in the comments section for the scientists and the important work they are doing to warn humanity of the gravest danger facing the planet.  I have many readers and colleagues in Australia and we will make sure that as many of the scientists see these comments as possible.

UPDATE:  See the featured comment below from Stephen Spencer, an Australian reader with insight into what’s happening down under.

Only in a very perverse world are such tireless, underpaid heroes the subject of relentless attacks to muzzle their vital message, as if they were the title character in Henrik Ibsen’s classic, An Enemy of the People.  Sadly, such cyber bullying and threats of violence are not exclusive to Australia (see “UK Guardian slams Morano for cyber-bullying and for urging violence against climate scientists“).

Here is more from this important Australia news story:

Among the scientists being targeted is Australian National University climate institute director Professor Will Steffen.

Others include University of NSW climate change research co-director Professor Andy Pitman and University of Melbourne meteorology professor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author Professor David Karoly.

Many scientists spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared the email attacks would escalate if they were identified.

Several scientists have installed upgraded home security systems and switched to unlisted phone numbers after receiving threats that their homes and cars would be damaged.

One scientist said he was advised by police to install a ”panic button” security alarm in his university office after receiving death threats. Others have removed all contact numbers from their work websites, and deleted social media sites after these were defaced with abusive comments and obscene photographs. One researcher told of receiving threats of sexual assault and violence against her children after her photograph appeared in a newspaper article promoting a community tree-planting day as a local action to mitigate climate change.

Australia’s new chief scientist, former ANU vice-chancellor Professor Ian Chubb has condemned these email threats as ”an outrageous attack” on open and public debate.

”These hurtful attacks are intended to intimidate scientists, to scare them off and stop them from participating in public discussions on climate change. They are the antithesis of democratic debate,” Professor Chubb said.

Federal Climate Change Minster Greg Combet said harassment of scientists or other researchers was unacceptable….

Australian Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said the emails were ”an orchestrated, extremist anti-science campaign attempting to threaten and intimidate people into silence.”

Outspoken climate science critic, Queensland Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce also condemned the attacks as malicious and counter-productive.

”No one deserves that kind of behaviour,” Senator Joyce said.

University of NSW senior psychology lecturer Jason Mazanov said the emails were indicative of a ”closed room” mentality where people have lost all sense of what is normal.

Someone should modernize An Enemy of the People into a climate science parable.  The closest anyone has come is discussed here, “Jaws: A movie review by DenialDepot.”

Given that  so many of the threats are against NSW scientists, this Thursday story from The Sydney Morning Herald is sadly relevant:

Upper house whip under fire for Nazi slur on scientists

THE state government’s whip in the upper house, Peter Phelps, has been accused of likening scientists to Nazis in a speech to Parliament.

In an address attacking global warming, Dr Phelps said it should not be forgotten that ”some of the strongest supporters of totalitarian regimes in the last century have been scientists”.

”We should not be so surprised that the contemporary science debate has become so debased,” Dr Phelps, pictured, said. ”At the heart of many scientists – but not all scientists – lies the heart of a totalitarian planner.”

… Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Dr Phelps quoted an unidentified writer whom he described as ”speaking about the rise of Nazism” and its similarity to ”scientists agitating for a scientific organisation of society”.

Dr Phelps then went on to say: ”One can see them now, beavering away, alone, unknown, in their laboratories.

”Now, through the great global warming swindle, they can influence policy, they can set agendas, they can reach into everyone’s lives; they can, like Lenin, proclaim what must be done.”

The anti-scientist disinformers  can’t even decide if climate scientists are ultra right wing or ultra left wing.  It’s all the same hate speech to them (see Lord Monckton meltdown: “I’m not going to shake the hands of Hitler youth”).

For some background on cyber bullying of climate scientists, see my earlier pieces:

FEATURED COMMENT:

Stephen Spencer · La Trobe University

I am an Australian who is currently travelling in England. What is happening in Australia is quite surreal. The Oposition and the Government both have policies supporting a (small) rection of carbon emissions, the problem is that the Opposition Leader (Tony Abbott) often talks like a Climate Denier as he is desperate for the votes of climate crazies. The media (which is dominated by the Murdock Press) give Abbott a free pass on his inconsistency and dishonesty so the Denier Crazies feel justified in their absurd ideas.

The Climate Deniers claim to be conservatives but are acting in a very unconservative way, rejecting basic science and economics. Not all Conservatives reject their traditions in this way. In England the Conservative government is arguing for 50% emissions cut by 2025! Before the mid 1990s most conservatives accepted the science and economics, but something strange happened to encourage many conservatives to reject basic Conservative traditions. It would be interesting to read a post / paper / book by someone who could explain why so many conservatives have turned against such basic elements of their tradition.


Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Leif Erik Knutsen

It looks like we are approaching the “End Game”. “I do not know the weapons of WW III but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Albert Einstein. I am rooting for WW III to be fought with reason and scientific understanding and WWIV will be fought with sonnets. Where WW III becomes known as the “WE ALL WIN WAR,” (WAWW), Where people and nations and armies across the world work shoulder to shoulder to provide a sustainable rewarding environment for all to share and prosper. It will only happen if we all believe can/will happen. It cannot happen if Capitalism and Corporations continue to put Profits before Planet, The “commons” be damned! It cannot happen if ~50% of “We the People” feel it is “SEPs”, “Someone Else’s Problem”. Douglas Adams

June 4 at 6:21pm

Kenyatta J Yamel

Ignorance and intolerance on the rise.

June 4 at 6:46pm

John Mason

Root and branch, stock and stone, the guys who do the hard work of climate science will always have my support. As for these orcs – the Ents are stirring. It is when the gentlefolk get really angry – that’s when the anti-science bunch had better have a hole ready!
Cheers – John.

June 4 at 6:51pm

greenframe78

A lot of us had to deal with bullies in school, especially around junior high age (which I spent in Lawton, Oklahoma). Security systems and complaints to police won’t stop them. The only hope is to fight back, employing acid edged rebuttals, humor, and ridicule, not violence. Santer and Alley succeeded at this recently on television, turning Congressman Rohrabacher into a grinning idiot who suddenly wanted to be their friend.

Bullies are, after all, insecure cowards. The worst thing you can do is show them that you have been intimidated, since they smell the blood.

June 4 at 6:54pm

Tomasyn Berkowitz

Pure evil. I hope the people behind this can be identified and arrested.

June 4 at 7:01pm

Ben Wright

I was born in Canberra, moved to the United States at the tender age of five, and now a burgeoning physicist, am shocked and appalled to hear of this childish, aggressive and hurtful behavior coming from my homeland. Being a (still tender) 23 years of age, the unrelenting hate mongering toward people with truly good intentions is disheartening. It is the very existence of such positive beings that inspires me to move forward to the future that awaits my generation. Our planet is too beautiful to neglect, but the momentum I’m watching grow (and doing my best to help foster) is something in which one can find genuine inspiration. The good people are out there, waking up thousands by thousands. Focusing all our positive energies, the looming global crises can and will be averted.

I encourage everyone of influential stature to look to the youth in building support and momentum for the imperative changes we face. It will be the union of professional know-how and youthful fervor that will lead humankind to our next chapter on this green planet.

June 4 at 7:06pm

Prokaryotes

At certain points the public will use force against the so called “Skeptics”. The mob will hunt these skeptics and will try to lynch them. This comes after people realize climate change and becoming afraid of the doom we unleashed. Though the most skeptics are just the tools of the oil firm chiefs which fund the orchestrated campaign against science and humanity.

Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist.
· Testimony to US Congress will also criticise lobbyists.
· ‘Revolutionary’ policies needed to tackle crisis.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/​environment/2008/jun/23/fo​ssilfuels.climatechange

Climate change is about national security., about the foundation of society. If we do not act now and stop the orchestrated campaign against climate change we will have lost the last hope we have. Time is running out. Time to act is now! Everything what the human race is about is at stake!

June 4 at 7:08pm

Joseph Romm

I’m glad to see you are not personally calling for the use of force against “skeptics.” I have made clear that I won’t condone that here, even though the deniers continue to call for the use of force against climate scientists.

You are making a prediction about the future here that I am skeptical of. Once it becomes painfully obvious to everybody that we have unleashed multiple catastrophes on humanity for decades to come, (I suspect sometime between 2025 and 2035), I don’t think there will be many skeptics left and the public will be too focused on desperate mitigation and adaptation efforts. I could be wrong.

· June 5 at 9:40am

Leif Erik Knutsen

I sure hope that your “2025-2035″ prediction is wrong Joe, and I will be spending my remain years to make it so. Personally I do not see the transition coming any later than 2020. If the Humanity Epiphany moment were contingent on “A” climatic “Pearl Harbor” alone such might be the case. However there are so many other points and prods to take into account. A world wide “economic house of cards” built on a foundation of sand is right up there at the top. As the rich start to loose money it will be obvious that transition well have to start at the foundation. Capitalism and Corporations will have to be charged with, AND BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO PAY FOR, a percentage of profits to start to fill the mitigation hole. After all, PROFITS will still be made. Alternatively it will be adaptation, good money after bad, and the Big Cull. The heads of capitalism are GREEDY indeed, not stupid. (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here in spite of many years of contrary evidence.) Humanity forward will require a fully functional economic underpinning to succeed. One that RESPECTS THE COMMONS FIRST, Profits 2nd. That is clearly why the current GOP strategy will fail. In a dog eat dog world you are left with only a few BIG dogs. Certainly not a world view I aspire to, nor a world of, by, & for the people.

June 5 at 12:26pm

Colorado Bob

In Brazil they’re being murdered –

Amazon activist shot dead, third murder in a week.

(AFP) – May 27, 2011.

BRASILIA — A community leader who had denounced illegal logging in Brazil’s Amazon was shot dead Friday, a church ministry said, making him the third environmental activist killed this week.

http://www.google.com/host​ednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h​bA_mOIhzZm-FBUvg5nQUoEL-2R​Q?docId=CNG.86cef52d30e13b​28b2d80598a38bfa1d.e61

June 4 at 8:20pm

Lou Grinzo

This is beyond horrible.

But as I just minutes ago pointed out on my site, it’s part of their pattern. Whether they’re threatening scientists and their loved ones with violence or delaying action on climate change and therefore committing (delayed) violence on literally billions of human beings, it’s just another facet of the actions that stem from their warped world view.

And people wonder why I’m screaming in my fb photo…

June 4 at 8:27pm

George Ennis

There will come a time when public opinion tips either into total denial and pursuit of illusion or into that sudden dreadful wakening that will happen when it realizes that climate change is real, all too real and deadly.

I hope that the organizations are demanding that the police take every possible action to identify the people making these threats and prosecute them. Even if the possibility of conviction is low shining a light on such people will force others like them to flee.

June 4 at 8:43pm

Gary Herstein

Sadly, just all too unsurprising. The ‘argumentum ad baculum’ and ‘argumentum ad nazium’ are the typical tools of resort for those who have neither logic, principles, evidence nor facts to support their dogma.

June 4 at 8:47pm

Gary Herstein

Oh, and it is also rather sadly ironic — assuming it was not deliberate! — that you said, “The anti-scientist disinformers can’t even decide if climate scientists are ultra *WHITE* wing or ultra left wing.” Racism does seem to be endemic on that side of the political spectrum.

June 4 at 8:50pm

Joseph Romm

No, it was just my failing to enunciate into my DragonDictate for Macintosh.

June 4 at 9:03pm

Richard Brenne

I coached 10 seasons of ice hockey (this is being written between period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup – go Canucks!) and we taught all our players to always have their heads up. Even now on the bike path if a cyclist is coming at me with their head down I’ll instinctively say “Head up like a hockey player.” Fortunately none of them know what I’m talking about, as I’m sure you don’t either.

What I’m saying is that we need to have our heads up about alll of this. It is a common human trait to think things will always get better, but in fact they can get worse, including much worse.

As things start to unravel due to Peak Oil, Climate Change and all the other symptoms of the Limits to Growth, many here assume that all of these causes and effects will ultimately be understood by everyone.

I’m afraid the opposite might be true and the worst ideologies of ignorance, superstitution and blamiing the messangers might take hold, as they’re already beginning to. We might only have a window of opportunity to get at least the intelligensia of all writers, teachers and artists of all kinds to understand that we’ve reached the limits to growth and there will be all of these consequences that will each individually and all together tend to increase dramatically over time.

That’s why the communication of Climate Change and everything related, both cause and effect, might well be the most important communication ever, and sadly there’s no guarantee that the good guys will win. We each need to do everything we can to try to make that happen and those who believe in karma can imagine good karma and those who believe in baseball can see us going down swinging. And always with our heads up.

June 4 at 9:34pm

Charles Scott

“One researcher told of receiving threats of sexual assault and violence against her children after her photograph appeared in a newspaper article promoting a community tree-planting day as a local action to mitigate climate change.”

This is truly disgusting. I agree with greenframe78 that we need to “fight back” in appropriate ways. I was glad when UVic’s Andrew Weaver sued Tim Ball.

June 5 at 2:50am

Climate Portals

It’s time to support a price on carbon with our down under cousins…..

Thousands ‘Say Yes’ at carbon price rallies.
www.abc.net.au
Thousands of people have gathered at locations around the nation to rally in support of the Federal Government’s plan to put a price on carbon pollution.

http://www.facebook.com/pe​rmalink.php?story_fbid=205​322869512555&id=1394348227​41700

June 5 at 6:57am

Climate Portals

Climate Portals
The msm has a lot to account for….

Study says majority believe in climate change.
www.abc.net.au
A national survey reveals most Australians believe in, and are concerned about, climate change.
about an hour ago.

http://www.facebook.com/pe​rmalink.php?story_fbid=206​451146059049&id=1394348227​41700

June 5 at 7:00am

stevegeneral999

I’m offering my place as a safehouse! And when she’s old enough, I’ll be pointing to a lot of these people and telling my kid they’ve got seats alongside all those other heros in our stories, the one’s who stuck to principles and told the truth despite the risks.

June 5 at 8:25am

Joan Savage

The video “I’m a climate scientist’ included names and institutions in Australia. Stuff that goes ‘viral’ through social media gets to people all over the world. That’s the downside of reaching a wider audience, picking up variation that’s farther from the mean. The cyber-threats to the Australians could have come from anywhere, and we can hope there is some tracking down on that.
Note a link failure in the CP piece — “UK Guardian slams Morano for cyber-bullying and for urging violence against climate scientists.“ Hope there’s no need to cross that to the comments on the new page format.

June 5 at 9:01am

Joseph Romm

Hmm. It worked for me. I changed it a little. Let me know if it still doesn’t work for you.

June 5 at 9:34am

Joan Savage

It worked this time, thanks!!

June 5 at 9:46am

Stephen Spencer

I am an Australian who is currently travelling in England. What is happening in Australia is quite surreal. The Oposition and the Government both have policies supporting a (small) rection of carbon emissions, the problem is that the Opposition Leader (Tony Abbott) often talks like a Climate Denier as he is desperate for the votes of climate crazies. The media (which is dominated by the Murdock Press) give Abbott a free pass on his inconsistency and dishonesty so the Denier Crazies feel justified in their absurd ideas.

The Climate Deniers claim to be conservatives but are acting in a very unconservative way, rejecting basic science and economics. Not all Conservatives reject their traditions in this way. In England the Conservative government is arguing for 50% emissions cut by 2025! Before the mid 1990s most conservatives accepted the science and economics, but something strange happened to encourage many conservatives to reject basic Conservative traditions. It would be interesting to read a post / paper / book by someone who could explain why so many conservatives have turned against such basic elements of their tradition.

June 5 at 9:28am

Kevin Bourassa

Stephen, if it’s anything like what’s happened here in the states, that something would be “Pandering to the evangelical zealot reactionaries”. You can’t argue against someone like that, and it makes politics in this country stupid as f*cking possible. No thanks to Rupert Murdoch either, that cracker piece of sh*t. I just cannot believe that in this country elections come out as close as they do, or even go conservative at all. When you vote Republican here, you are voting for policy changes that help only the top 10-15% of the population. They’ve actually duped 35-40% of the population here to vote against their own self-interest, and they use religion and capitalist “ideology” to do it. It is truly unbelievable.

June 5 at 1:40pm

Tomasyn Berkowitz

by the way Joe – the ‘background’ links at the bottom of the article aren’t working.

June 5 at 10:42am

Climate Portals

Hewson takes swipe at parties over climate.
www.abc.net.au
Former Liberal leader John Hewson has told a climate action rally in Canberra that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s lack of conviction on global warming has allowed the Opposition to run a fear campaign on the issue.

“global warming was “the biggest economic, social, political and moral challenge of this century”.

“This issue is going to affect generations through this century so how dare they play games with the livelihoods of our grandchildren and their grandchildren.”
2 seconds ago.

June 5 at 12:13pm

John Stone

Unfortunately, such threats are not uncommon – Ben Santer and Phil Jones have faced similar threats. These and some of the Australian scientists are long-time friends. We have to stand up for them and for the science.

June 5 at 12:34pm

Arne Perschel

Maybe it’s time for Peter Gleick and 254 members of the NAS to resend last year’s letter to NYT, WSJ and Wash Post. http://www.sciencemag.org/​ content/328/5979/689.full They refused to publish it back then. Will they stay with that positiion, now that we’ve seen the attack on Giffords?

June 5 at 12:36pm

Tenney Naumer

They need to word it even more strongly.

· June 5 at 7:02pm

Mike Ballard

Shock Jock radio has these conservative con-artists of cognitive dissonance e.g. Allan Jones, squawking disinformation about climate change at an ever rushed for information mass of Howard battlers in search of sound bites of wisdom. Reminds me of the media frenzy to sell its wares during the time of Martin Luther King which ended up in stirring one of the regular believers in racist ideological non science to take it into his head to murder Dr. King. The seller must pay the price of the sale. It’s the capitalist media selling us the cheapest commodity they can peddle in order to gain market share via lickspittles like Allan Jones.

June 5 at 8:25pm

Mike Ballard

Shock Jock radio has these conservative con-artists of cognitive dissonance e.g. Allan Jones, squawking disinformation about climate change at an ever rushed for information mass of Howard battlers in search of sound bites of wisdom. Reminds me of the media frenzy to sell its wares during the time of Martin Luther King which ended up in stirring one of the regular believers in racist ideological non science to take it into his head to murder Dr. King. The seller must pay the price of the sale. It’s the capitalist media selling us the cheapest commodity they can peddle in order to gain market share via lickspittles like Allan Jones.

· June 5 at 8:27pm

Mike Ballard

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.~

· June 5 at 8:40pm

Julia Kuglen

This news horrifies me. I’m grateful for the work these scientists do.

June 6 at 9:42am

Mark Maguillicuty

BE careful out there.

June 6 at 11:06am

Jean Mcmahon

I have on my ipod of a meeting of Autralian scientists from 3 year ago..It inspires me.I was hunting for the Marc Marano reference bec he use to work for my dear Senator Inhofe..

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