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Friday, 10 June 2011

Climate Change: Dangerous Science Down Under


Hazelwood Power Station, Victoria, Australia: photo by Simpsons fan 66, 16 October 2007

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
....Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
....Though greater far, is innocent.

John Donne: from A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning (1611[?])

Climate of fear: scientists face death threats

Australia's leading climate change scientists are being targeted by a vicious, unrelenting email campaign that has resulted in police investigations of death threats.

The Australian National University has confirmed it moved several high-profile climate scientists, economists and policy researchers into more secure buildings, following explicit threats to their personal safety.

Scientists at universities in NSW and Queensland have told of being moved to high security buildings, where their names do not appear on staff directory lists or on their office door.

''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,'' one scientist said.

''That's directly as a result of threats made against me.''

More than 30 researchers across Australia ranging from ecologists and environmental policy experts to meteorologists and atmospheric physicists told The Canberra Times they are receiving a stream of abusive emails threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members.

Among the scientists being targeted is Australian National University climate institute director Professor Will Steffen.

Others include University of NSW climate change research co-director Professor Andy Pitman and University of Melbourne meteorology professor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author Professor David Karoly.

Many scientists spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared the email attacks would escalate if they were identified.

Several scientists have installed upgraded home security systems and switched to unlisted phone numbers after receiving threats that their homes and cars would be damaged.

One scientist said he was advised by police to install a ''panic button'' security alarm in his university office after receiving death threats. Others have removed all contact numbers from their work websites, and deleted social media sites after these were defaced with abusive comments and obscene photographs. One researcher told of receiving threats of sexual assault and violence against her children after her photograph appeared in a newspaper article promoting a community tree-planting day as a local action to mitigate climate change.

Rosslyn Beeby, Science and Environment Reporter, Canberra Times, 4 June 2011

Australian marine scientists examine coral cores at Clerke Reef, Western Australia

Australian marine scientists examine coral cores at Clerke Reef, Western Australia. Climate scientists have recently received death threats, universities say: photo by Ho/Reuters (via the Guardian, 6 June 2011)

Prof. David Koroly, of the University of Melbourne's school of Earth science, told the Australian Broadcasting Company that he receives threats whenever he is interviewed by the media.

"It is clear that there is a campaign in terms of either organised or disorganised threats to discourage scientists from presenting the best available climate science on television or radio," he said.

The Guardian, 6 June 2011

Spencer Street Power Station, Melbourne, Australia: photo by Marcus Wong, 31 August 2007

Yallourn W Power Station, Victoria, Australia: photo by Marcus Wong, 18 August 2007

File:Yallourn power station.JPG

Yallourn Power Station, Victoria, Australia, from Bates Preserve: photo by RockerballAustralia, 10 April 2010

Two large dredges working the coal face, and smaller units on the mine floor, Loy Yang Power Station, Victoria, Australia: photo by Marcus Wong, 11 December 2008

Loy Yang A Power Station, Victoria, Australia; four generating units of Loy Yang A, 2200 megawatt capacity: photo by Marcus Wong, 11 December 2008

Loy Yang B Power Station, Victoria, Australia; two generating units of Loy Yang B, 1050 megawatt capacity; coal conveyor from open cut mine in foreground: photo by Marcus Wong, 11 December 2008

Energy Brix Power Station, Victoria, Australia; brown coal fired power station and briquette factory: photo by Marcus Wong, 9 December 2008

File:Collie coal mining.jpg

Coal mine near Collie, Australia: photo by Calistemon, 22 October 2010

Muja Power Station, Collie, Australia: photo by Nachoman, November 2001

Hazelwood Power Station, Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia: photo by Simpsons fan 66, March 2008

Spencer Street Power Station, Melbourne, Australia, being demolished: photo by Nomadtales, 27 October 2007


manik sharma said...

"presenting the best available climate science on television or radio"..? what does that he talking about things like star trek ?? ...the planet has become a continuation of such patterns all over...for once i wish the planet were you could actually move 'away' from is saddening to look at such photos...Because somewhere someone is actually proud of such accomplishments...and that pride is rubbed on every eye swollen to the heart is life they with it...or kill somebody...

Ed Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...


About the only thing that causes me to persevere with this project is the sense of living communication that occurs when I hear words like yours. But of course these are merely the temporarily condoned anodyne conversations of the unspeakable repeating to one another the unspeakable things that are anyway evident and palpable in the images. On any sort of anthropological or intuitive level, these are things that, though they perhaps must and in any case actually will always have to remain unspoken, probably don't need saying. Still, always good to know you're out there, my brother.


All your strong convictions need is just a wee bit more courage to back them up. If you feel the light is speaking from within you, why drop the lampshade over it a minute later?

But we've been through this before.

Your comment, just between you and me, pretty much sized up the situation, alas.

Ed Baker said...

felt that that comment was like throwing rocks at a hornet nest
which is what we-all seem to be doing

especially in our foreign, domestic, and cultural
.... ugh .... "mightmakesright" attitude

not to mention that God who is on our every dollar bill
a a flag-pin is on every one of our Piss-ant "Leader's" lapel !

and as far as what comes through to us NON-STOP
via the media ...
what a crock of dumbed down,
filtered almostzero information we get.

all those "pretty" smokestacks with the white smoke

just because the smoke is white ... doesn't meean it is "clean"

I guess "clean energy" will make "clean tuberculosis"

like "clean styrofoam" (cups) & "clean" particleboard

(used in 99 % of our present construction of buildings & houses)

did you see the NYT article yesterday..
OUR GOV'T SCIENTISTS have just put

styrene AND formaldehyde on the "probable causes of cancer" list...

where's the media coverage of this?

"courage" ? I no longer 'piss into the wind'


I just didn't want to start an argument on your blog about [...]

(besides... it just might cutinto any future sales of my newest book ..)

Ed Baker said...

here is that article about styrene/formaldehyde

dig what the Styrene manufacturers of America say !

TC said...


You speak from our muted present into a future which, at this rate, will probably have plastic tabs for ears.

This is courage.

Don Quixote had no idea.

I salute you.

Ed Baker said...

"plastic tabs for ears"


and all live in samesizedlittlehouses
filled with ticky-tacky !


just now am reading Sartre's book (remember books ?):

the Main Man who led us the way into this

mad mad mad mad world

(with an huge p u s h from Sade ....

Now it is Sunday ... Let us All Cry to and prEy on God

(whoever She may be)

as for me ? I'm off to Dogtown
&then down to the ship,
Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and
We set up mast and sail on that swart ship:


Fey said...

"..of course these are merely the temporarily condoned anodyne conversations of the unspeakable.." via the unspeakable "..repeating to one another the unspeakable things that are anyway evident and palpable in the images. On any sort of anthropological or intuitive level, these are things that, though they perhaps must and in any case actually will always have to remain unspoken, probably don't need saying." That's why I haven't.

"About the only thing that causes me to persevere with this project is the sense of living communication that occurs when I hear words like yours." That's why I am.

"On parle, on parle, c'est tout ce qu'on peut faire," maintenant. Grieve for the world.

Fey said...

Of curse* evil will always triumph, because evil has no scruples and destruction is so quick and easy compared with creation. The end was a foregone conclusion.
*It was a typographical error, but how appropriate!

Fey said...

So all we can do is cherish the good, try to guard it, love it and let it know it's loved and show we're sorry by trying to behave and be better ourselves (hah!) but honestly each of us has already done more harm than could be justified by a thousand well-led lives. It is our fault - obviously, 'cos we wouldn't have computers if we lived properly, but most people don't want to stop - they like it. They talk about "the environment," as though we were the one important thing, the reason the world exists, and all the rest were just our surroundings, instead of understanding that it's a whole world of life and lives, in which we were privileged to live should be no more noticable or world-altering than sparrows.
It's far too late, though, and anyway it was going to happen once humans started changing things, so I suppose it started with agriculture. Hunter-gatherers and nomads live in the world; agriculture starts to alter it; then agriculture enables people to group into and build cities and then you're done for.

TC said...


The grieving, the sorrow, the cherishing, the persevering in the face of the hopelessness, the not remaining silent even when we know the words won't do...

Still what else can we do?

Thank you for the glimmer amid the encroaching darkness. To persist in one's beliefs is to remain alive. For now.

Fey said...

Well, as I wrote, I only commented to show you another person who's hearing you, but:

And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here.
No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension.
We are their parents and original.

Poor, poor, mazèd world.

TC said...

The disruption of natural order in the play is down to a row between the Queen and King of fairies. Things are put back into balance and harmony by the reconciliation of these not quite human creatures. Had they been human, they'd have just kept up the row until the poor maz´d world had been wrought into such a state it could never be put right. And then as it fell to ruin around them they'd have kept on squabbling right into the eternal night.