It’s a bit clumsy to call this entire saga ‘death-threat-gate’. But it is weird how many of the iconic warmist narratives (e.g. hockey-sticks, polar bears, melting-Himalaya-glaciers, Hansen-congressional-testimony, snows-of-Kilimanjaro…) turn out to be crocks.
A year ago alleged death threats against warmist climatologists at the Australian National University became a media sensation.
The elements involved an organized and possibly funded campaign by sceptics to terrify and silence climate scientists, who were merely doing an honest job of putting climate facts before the public. “The barrage has left the scientists… working behind unmarked doors and surrounded by heavy security,” as one report put it.
In the past fortnight official information has been released that the ‘death threats’ were fiction. The story was a mammoth beat-up promulgated and/or swallowed by the science community, which normally prides itself on checking evidence.
On June 4 The Canberra Times ran a story “Climate of Fear” by Rosslyn Beeby, science and environment reporter, describing a vicious campaign of death threats. Her account of police investigations was incorrect, which may be why the newspaper has dropped the story from its website.
The story focused on ANU scientists but also mentioned threats to those at Melbourne and Queensland Universities, in all, “more than 30” researchers. Those named included Will Steffen (ANU), Andy Pitman (UNSW) and David Karoly (Melbourne University). An un-named scientist was quoted: ”If you want to find me, it’s impossible unless you make an appointment, sign in with some form of photo identification, and are personally escorted to my door. That’s directly as a result of threats made against me.” Later, another claimed police had urged him to install a ‘panic button’ in his office, and one had upgraded his house security after someone threw eggs.
Ian Chubb, former ANU vice-chancellor and newly-installed Chief Scientist, weighed in saying the threats were outrageous attempts to intimidate climatologists and stifle debate on climate change.
“We’re back to the Middle Ages aren’t we?” he asked the ABC. “I mean, that’s what they tried to do to Galileo.”
Simon Turnill, who runs the Australian Climate Madness blog and is legally qualified, put in next day a Freedom of Information request to six prominent ANU climatologists seeking the ANU’s threat emails. On August 4 the ANU refused to disclose its 11 relevant emails. It cited an exemption involving danger to its personell’s lives or security. The next day (Turnill doesn’t muck around!), he appealed to the Privacy Commissioner, Tim Pilgrim, who on April 26 this year disallowed the ANU claim and said the emails (less personal identifications) could be released. The ANU is considering an appeal and meanwhile declines to release the emails. Disclosure might show how weak the ‘threat emails’ really are.
Pilgrim found that 10 emails didn’t involve a threat to kill or to harm; they were just abusive. The 11th described a verbal exchange at an off-campus event.
Pilgrim said the exchange could be “intimidating and at its highest perhaps alluding to a threat… I consider the danger to life or physical safety in this case to be only a possibility, not a real chance.” It sounds like uproar in a pub, which occurs even in Australia.