It's pretty depressing to consider that even now, well into the 21st century, highly respected scientists are still harassed, intimidated, and attacked for their work. Ever since the far-right latched on to the hacked email event at the University of East Anglia, the well-regarded paleoclimatologist Michael Mann has been particularly victimized by conspiracy theorists and ideologues who claim global warming is a hoax.
He, his colleagues, even their families have received personal threats—just for working in a field that has produced some inconvenient findings for fossil fuel companies and, by extension, a particular political ideology.But now, the harassment stands to accelerate. A coal industry group is now organizing an entire campaign to harass Michael Mann, who is giving a speech at the university where he works, Penn State. Brad Johnson reports:
A coal-industry astroturf group is running a public campaign to harass Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann for his “radical agenda” of climate science. The Common Sense Movement/Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee (CSM/SEAPAC) has established a website asking people to criticize the Penn State Speakers Forum for allowing Michael Mann to speak about the climate change challenge. “Join us in calling on the administration to disinvite the disgraced academic,” the group says on its Facebook page.The group then asks people to send out a pre-written letter to local newspaper editorial boards lambasting the scientist. In short, it's disgusting. It's a public campaign to attack a scientist—not an elected official, not a prominent businessman, not an activist.
If we've reached a point where scientists can be subjected to such organized attacks, it bodes ill for our society at large. Such campaigns could eventually have a chilling effect on good science in general. Who will want to go through all that hassle, personal discomfort, and, perhaps, danger, to collect and analyze some data?
The Common Sense Movement and Secure Energy for America should be deeply, deeply ashamed.