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CAUT Bulletin Archives

January 2010

Science Marred by Harassment

Scientists working in the climate-change field are being targeted by a well-orchestrated campaign of harassment by global-warming skeptics who want to discredit their work and block any chance of achieving binding greenhouse gas emission targets, says University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver.

Weaver and other scientists around the world have been speaking out about harassment since the “climategate” controversy which saw, on the eve of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the public release of an e-mail archive stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England.

Climate skeptics claimed the e-mails exposed how little evidence exists linking climate change to human activity, but the scientific community has since demonstrated the information contained in the e-mails was taken out of context and misrepresented, and reveals nothing that would contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that link exists.

Weaver, a world leader in climate dynamics and lead author of assessment reports for the Nobel-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been targeted himself, with two break-ins at his university office, the theft of a computer and several attempts to hack into the computer network.

He says the goal of the people who stole and published the e-mail archive was to distract from critical discussions aimed at achieving a binding figure for emissions reduction at the climate conference in Copenhagen.

“This is just one in a series of incidents that have been part of a sustained and well-organized attempt to discredit science and harass scientists, and scientists are being targeted precisely because the evidence is overwhelmingly demanding change,” said Weaver.

“In the end, while I’m sure they were overjoyed Copenhagen was an absolute flop, I don’t think their tactics had an effect on the outcome of the negotiations,” he added. “They were nothing but a transient distraction.”