Published on June 11th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer3
Could Intimidation Shut Down Climate Science?
In congressional testimony before the House (in which they attempted to rouse the nation to act urgently on climate change) three prominent climate scientists also disclosed an escalation in violence that they believe could curtail the number of future climate scientists prepared to go into the field.
The battle against abortion followed a similar trajectory. Intimidation at abortion clinics, shouting, threats, even ultimately – murders did succeed in sharply limiting the number of clinics in this nation.
The laws that the majority passed were overruled in practice, by a minority. Violence worked.
As a result, few doctors practice abortions in the US, so few study it in medical schools. The field has been shut down. Taking a leaf from that book, now the same strategy is apparently being used on another target: climate scientists.
In congressional testimony before the House, three climate scientists described an escalation in threats in their personal lives, and their increasing concern that the level of intimidation will affect the career decisions of future climate scientists. The President of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Cicerone said he worries about the current atmosphere of intimidation in terms of its effect on young scientists, because of fears about what they might be subjected to.
All three now get hate mail. Stanford University professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Dr. Stephen Schneider described messages that say things like “you communist … you traitor, you should be hung.” Now global warming deniers come to meetings to yell and shout at scientists. By and large, this has not happened before, he said. It has now gotten to the point that things have become accusatory and highly ideological.
A Research Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Dr. Ben Santer gave an example of the harassment of climate scientists moving beyond hate mail into threats against their families.
Answering a knock on the door of his home late one night, he found a dead rat on his doorstep and saw a yellow Hummer speeding off with the driver yelling curses. Without going into the specifics, he said he has come to feel that his loved ones are now in harm’s way.
“I think there are powerful forces of unreason out there,” Santer said. They are trying to create “scientific ‘no go’ zones. They are saying, in effect, if you do research in that area and we don’t like your conclusions, we’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks.”