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Climate of hatred for climate change scientists growing stronger

By Stephanie Dearing     Mar 13, 2010 in Environment
Climate scientists say they had received threats and ugly correspondence in the past from people objecting to the idea of climate change, but since Climategate, the tone has become more abusive and more threatening.
Those scientists accused of conspiring to manipulate science in the titillating media scandal known as Climategate say they have been receiving abusive emails. Some scientists claim they have received death threats.
Climate change has always been a divisive subject, with strong believers in pro- and anti-climate change camps. However, the theft and release of email correspondence exchanged between climate scientists over a 10 year period from East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit not only lent fuel to the anti-climate change side, Climategate also spawned an unprecedented level of public fury and backlash against climate scientists.
Climate scientist Stephen Schneider, based at California's Stanford University had emails leaked from East Anglia last November. He spoke to Tierramérica about the threats he had received since the emails were posted on the internet, saying he thought a scientist would ultimately be killed. “"I have hundreds” of threatening e-mails. I’m not going to let it worry me...but you know it’s going to happen. They shoot abortion doctors here.”
The fury of the anti-climate change faction has been encouraged by outspoken people such as United States Senator James Inhofe. Inhofe who has long alleged the science behind climate change was faulty, has found a lot of fodder with Climategate. Charging that climate scientists had "... cooked the science." Inhofe released the names of the 17 climate change scientists he believes should face criminal prosecution for conspiring to commit climate change fraud. This has alarmed scientists, who feel that criminal prosecution is a way to intimidate dissenters.
Climategate exists primarily because the story is a media feeding frenzy full of gold for media outlets. The story, which appeals heavily to the anti-crowd, is the stuff of soap operas with its wild allegations and no-holds-barred attitude, denigrating climate scientists as fraudsters and criminals. One leading media voice in the climate ruckus has been writer Jonathon Leake, former Environment Editor with the Sunday Times. Leake's writing is now called "Leakegate," reflecting Leake's propensity to write journalistic-style stories that manipulate, sensationalize and misrepresent scientific findings.
The recent revelation that a climate change report issued by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contains several errors has only fueled the gossipy soap opera known as Climategate. Journalistic standards have been thrown out the window with Climategate, because facts must not be allowed to interfere with the juicy gossip and innuendo.
Australian ethics expert Clive Hamilton said the targeted climate scientists have been under attack for a long time, a fact revealed by the hacked emails. Hamilton wrote "... the emails reveal the enormous external pressure they were under. They show they were constantly accused of being frauds and cheats; their work was twisted and misrepresented; and they were bombarded with vexatious freedom of information requests orchestrated by denialists. In short, they were caught up in a hot political debate that they did not really understand or want to be part of, yet they were the target of savvy, secretive and ruthless organisations ready to pounce on anything they said or wrote.
This is the real story exposed of "Climategate". Instead, the scientists in question have seen their professional reputations trashed in the world's media for no cause, to the point where Phil Jones has been on the verge of suicide. It has been the most egregious and unfounded attack on the integrity of a profession we have ever seen."
Hamilton insists the science that demonstrates global warming is "rock solid," as does the IPCC.
Schneider criticized media and the role it has played in Climategate, telling Tierramérica “I’m pretty damn angry that media companies are putting profits ahead of truth. The media are deeply broken...That’s a real threat to democracy."
Scientist Michael Mann is concerned about how Climategate serves to erode the science of climate change. There has been an negative impact, as writer and journalism teacher Bud Ward told Public Radio International "There are a number of public opinion polls which have shown the public's concern over this issue has gone down. The percentage of the public who are considered critical of this issue, or opposed to doing anything on climate change, on carbon dioxide, that percentage is going up."
Anyone who defends climate science is at risk of being threatened. When it comes to climate change, nothing is sacred -- youth groups are just as readily targeted as are politicians and scientists.
Environmentalism is seen by the anti-climage change faction as manipulating the public and swaying politicial and economic decision-making through fear-mongering. It appears that this belief is used to justify the use of terrorism in the attempt to shut-down climate studies.
There is a benefit to denying climate change -- for some big businesses. Simply put, it's economic. Without being forced to invest funds into technology in order to comply with restrictions on the production of greenhouse gas emissions, there is more money available for profit, although it should be noted that many big businesses embrace social responsbility, willingly implementing environmental protections.
More about Climategate, Climate change, Stephen schneider, James inhofe, Jonathon leake
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