Friday, June 15, 2012

Read the Disturbing Death Threats Sent to a Top Climate Scientist

High-profile climate scientists have notoriously received death threats, especially since the backlash against global warming reached a fever pitch in the wake of so-called ClimateGate. Michael Mann, a climatologist behind the famed 'hockey stick' graph, and Phil Jones, head researcher at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, have both notably said they're regularly sent some chilling messages.

But James Delingpole, perhaps the most vociferous climate change naysayer in the U.K., doesn't believe them. He dedicated a column a while back to calling Jones and company liars, and claims they're exaggerating the hate mail sent their way. Delingpole writes:
Maybe it's time someone did an FOI to see whether the UEA's dodgy and discredited Phil Jones really did get any of those "death threats" he claims to have received after Climategate and which allegedly drove him to consider suicide. Speaking for myself, if Phil Jones released a report claiming that grass is green I'd feel compelled to go outside just to double check ...I've a strong suspicion that the emails I get in my inbox most days from the ecoloons ... are far more foul-mouthed, repellant and poisonous than anything these junk scientists have ever received.
I've a strong suspicion not. Grist reports that Simon Hopkins did indeed file a Freedom of Information request to check into Jones' claims, and sure enough—death threats. Dozens of them.

Remember, these aren't anonymous YouTube comments or postings on a conservative blog's comment thread. These are direct correspondence emailed to a working scientist, whose only crime is toiling in a field that conservatives have developed a hatred for. They're alternately disturbing, poorly written, outlandish, and genuinely frightening. I just took a few minutes to read through them, and it's pretty chilling stuff:

FOI/Public Domain

FOI request/Public Domain

FOI/Public Domain

It's important to read these unsettling notes, if only to get an idea of the kind of hatred that's out there for climate scientists—an entire fringe; a clearly unstable contingent of conservatives really feels deeply threatened and outraged by their work.

As a coda, I'll note that Delingpole himself does all he can to feed this sentiment; it's no wonder his followers seethe with such rage, given the hate-filled, conspiratorial myth-building he engages in his column. A column, I should add, that's based famously on his "interpretation of interpretations"—he's admitted he doesn't have time to read any peer-reviewed science himself.

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