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article imageOp-Ed: Australian climate change scientists get death threats

By Paul Wallis     Jun 3, 2011 in Crime
Canberra - Well, if denial doesn’t work, try death threats. Australian National University scientists have received death threats and abusive phone calls. If nothing else, this shows the true nature of climate change denial- pure criminality.
Threats are said to include “attacking the academics in the streets, if they continue their research”. The university has taken steps to increase security and states that the threats have been getting worse in recent months. Police are currently investigating the threats.
Vice Chancellor Ian Young commented in an ABC report:
"Academics and scientists are actually really not equipped to be treated in this way," he said.
"The whole scientific process is one of open debate and discussion, but the concept that you would be threatened for your scientific views and work is something that is completely foreign to them."
This level of intimidation is a clear indication of the desperation of climate change denialists. Having failed abysmally to impact most Western governments and the public as a whole with their campaigns of disinformation and perversion of scientific data, the obvious alternative is to try something more in character.
Obviously, the idea that death threats may not impress the public much either isn’t a factor in this campaign of fear. The main opponents of climate change science are:
1. The oil industry, famous for its humanitarian work around the world.
2. Right wing politicians and their pets, famous for sleaze in multiple forms.
3. Internet “writers” who’ll write anything for money.
4. Tacky “journalists” of various shades of mediocrity.
From this dazzling array of talent and high moral standards, you can take your pick of possible sources of the threats to the scientists. Death threats aren’t all that common in Australia, and it’s pretty safe to assume that this outbreak of anti-democratic hate crime comes from fringe groups.
There aren’t any “usual suspects” for this particular case. Climate change isn’t a particularly polarized political issue in Australia, either. Both government and Opposition have acknowledged the issue and have policies in place regarding their approach to the problem. So the threats are apparently coming from outside the mainstream political spectrum.
The threats may be internationally-based, and if this sort of campaign is almost unknown in Australia, it’s not that uncommon in other parts of the world. As a matter of fact, that scenario is almost more likely than a local threat because of a cultural situation- The Australian public really doesn’t like standover tactics on principle, and this campaign is likely to generate a lot of sympathy for the academics, even from people who don’t agree with them. An Australian source would know that, unless totally delusional.
Delusion has been a hallmark of climate change denial since it began. It involves several basic abuses of basic scientific fact:
1. Denial that changing the mix of gases naturally affects the thermal properties of gases- High school science, for most people, but not climate change denialists. (It wouldn’t matter if human activities were generating large amounts of soda pop instead of carbon. If you alter the mix of gases, by definition you alter their entire thermal profile.)
2. Denial of the effects of CO2, well known as one of the delineating factors of global climate conditions. Basic science, again, and well documented.
3. Denial of the value of alternative energy sources, despite fully documented efficiency with these sources. This is more than denial, it’s outright lying on a global scale, done systematically, complete with the usual debunking websites Joe McCarthy must have been sorry to miss.
4. Denial of any data supporting climate change, including the rise of large anoxic areas in the oceans, ocean acidification, and similar date. (The 200kg jellyfish off Japan presumably don’t exist, either.)
Climate change denialists, despite their ridiculous positions on practically every issue on this subject, haven’t been threatened with death or even mild verbal abuse. They’ve been allowed to speak without fear of retaliation. It will be interesting to see if they’re prepared to publicly support these insane threats.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Australian national university, climate change academics death threats, vice chancellor ian young, climate change denial, climate change Australia
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