Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science under Siege

By Clive Hamilton

When the denial machine goes after climate scientists it is, as one of them said, like the marines going into battle against boy scouts.

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The brutality of the attacks has once again been confirmed by the release of some of the emails sent to Phil Jones, the University of East Anglia climate scientist at the centre of the “Climategate” storm.

The emails make for sickening reading and anyone receiving them would be foolish not to treat the threats as potentially serious.

Australian climate scientists have for some years been receiving the same kind of abuse and threats. Every time Andrew Bolt targets a scientist for criticism he or she receives a torrent of aggression from his legion of followers.

The objective of the cyber-bullying is obvious, to drive climate scientists (and anyone else who writes about climate change, including journalists) out of the public debate. Some of the more resolute scientists have said that they will not be intimidated, but they would not be human if they were not at least disturbed by the threats.

Of course, the hate-speech coming from climate deniers is anathema to everything universities stand for. The abuse and threats have taken public discourse to a different level, something akin to the ferocity of the anticommunist crusades against intellectuals in the 1950s and 1960s.

I know that some young scientists have been turned off becoming climate scientists because they don’t want to expose themselves and their families to the violence of the...

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Clive Hamilton 
holds the Vice Chancellor's Chair of the Centre For Applied Philosophy & Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Charles Sturt University.This article is reproduced from The Conversation (http://www.theconversation.edu.au).