What if simply doing your job and being honest triggered death threats?
Climate scientists know what that’s like. And think about it: you are doing nothing wrong, you are just doing research on the climate, and you’re being honest about what you’re finding, and as a result of that, you get death threats. That’s astonishing, and also peculiar. You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s hard to do better than that. What more can you do?
Michael Mann writes in the Washington Post:
Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He co-authored, with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.”
My Penn State colleagues looked with horror at the police tape across my office door.
I had been opening mail at my desk that afternoon in August 2010 when a dusting of white powder fell from the folds of a letter. I dropped the letter, held my breath and slipped out the door as swiftly as I could, shutting it behind me. First I went to the bathroom to scrub my hands. Then I called the police.
It turned out to be cornstarch, not anthrax. And it was just one in a long series of threats I’ve received since the late 1990s, when my research illustrated the unprecedented nature of global warming, producing an upward-trending temperature curve whose shape has been likened to a hockey stick.
I’ve faced hostile investigations by politicians, demands for me to be fired from my job, threats against my life and even threats against my family. Those threats have diminished in recent years, as man-made climate change has become recognized as the overwhelming scientific consensus and as climate science has received the support of the federal government. But with the coming Trump administration, my colleagues and I are steeling ourselves for a renewed onslaught of intimidation, from inside and outside government. It would be bad for our work and bad for our planet.
Donald Trump, of course, famously dismissed global warming as a Chinese hoaxand “a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money.” This month, he framed his position on climate change as “nobody really knows — it’s not something that’s so hard and fast.” He has vowed to cancel U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement and threatened to block the Clean Power Plan, a measure to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector.
The strong anti-science bent of his advisers is similarly ominous. Among the members of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team are some of the most notorious climate change deniers. One adviser has threatened to cut NASA’s entire climate research program , disparaging it, with no apparent sense of irony, as “heavily politicized.”
Trump’s nominee for energy secretary, Rick Perry, wrote in his 2010 book that “we have been experiencing a cooling trend” (in reality, 2016 will go down as the third consecutive record-breaking year for global temperatures), and when he was governor of Texas, his administration removed all references to climate changefrom a report on rising sea levels. Trump’s proposed interior secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), plays down climate change as “not proven science” and has a dismal record on the environment, voting again and again in favor of the fossil fuel industry. Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state, represents those interests even more directly as the chief executive of ExxonMobil.
And then there’s Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma and Trump’s pick for EPA administrator. When it comes to fossil fuel advocacy and climate inaction, Pruitt checks all the boxes. He has received substantial campaign funding from the oil and gas industry and is a self-professed “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Among the various lawsuits he has brought against the agency is his current suit against the Clean Power Plan. Fox, meet henhouse.
But it is the disrespect Pruitt displays for science that my colleagues and I find most distressing. Consider this statement from a commentary he published this year in National Review: . . .
I have to confess that I just do not understand people like Pruitt.