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Climate Scientists in Need a Legal Defense Fund?

Over the past few years, climate deniers have subjected some college professors who are among the nation’s leading climate scientists to “e-mail hackingdeath threats, politician’s demands for documentsFreedom of Information requests” and more, as Andy Revkin points out.

When I wrote the Climate Solutions Consensus textbook with David Blockstein, we relied heavily on the pain-staking, voluminous work of many of the scientists that have since been targeted by the climate deniers.

If I shake out the footnotes of that book onto a desk, you will find the names of almost all the folks being tarred and feathered by the climate deniers. So, I am taking this climate war seriously and personally–whether I have ever met a specific scientist being pilloried in person or not.”

Recently, we learned that the scientists being attacked face huge legal bills. Try covering that tab on a college teacher’s salary.

Actions under attack include an employee’s right to privacy over personal correspondence as well as the broader communication between scientists on matters of method and replication of results.

To quote Jeff Ruch from Andy Revkin’s interview above, “Our main concern is that industry-funded groups and law firms are seeking to criminalize the peer review process by obtaining internal editorial comments of reviewers as a means to impeach or impugn scientists.”

Ruch is the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nation-wide service organization that has long protected public employees, such as whistle blowers who might be forest rangers, attorneys, doctors or others, against retaliation from within their own agency or from external sources.

Would folks like Michael Mann be the target of such uncivil actions, if they studied the human genome, brain tumors, semiconductors, or even economic models of social service delivery programs? Probably not, yet. But…

If we do not stand up now for the right of climate scientists to pursue their career to wherever their research findings may lead, we may soon find these corrosive attacks being levied against biological scientists, behavioral scientists, or even political scientists, whose research finds disfavor with a few vocal deniers.

For more, visit the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.


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