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Quadrant on the death threats

Quadrant magazine reviews the climate death threats issue:

The elements involved an organized and possibly funded campaign by sceptics to terrify and silence climate scientists, who were merely doing an honest job of putting climate facts before the public. “The barrage has left the scientists… working behind unmarked doors and surrounded by heavy security,” as one report put it.[1]

In the past fortnight official information has been released that the ‘death threats’ were fiction. The story was a mammoth beat-up promulgated and/or swallowed by the science community, which normally prides itself on checking evidence.

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Reader Comments (113)

Useful summary and commentary. Plus he recalls, and links to, that vulgar video produced by Australian climate scientists intent on the contemptuous dismissal of opinions different to their own. They succeeded as far as I am concerned only in trashing themselves and degrading their professions.

'The scientists acting and by-lined in the video included PhD students Tim Leslie and Tristan Sasse and Drs Jason Evans and Katrin Meissner, all from the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW; Professor Roger N. Jones, research fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University; Dr Ailie Gallant, post-doctoral research fellow, school of earth sciences, University of Melbourne; and Drs Leanne Armand and Linda Beaumont, climate futures research centre, Macquarie University.'

Once again, I look in dismay at the calibre of those promoting alarm about climate change.

The Quadrant piece finishes with this paragraph:
It’s a bit clumsy to call this entire saga ‘death-threat-gate’. But it is weird how many of the iconic warmist narratives (e.g. hockey-sticks, polar bears, melting-Himalaya-glaciers, Hansen-congressional-testimony, snows-of-Kilimanjaro…) turn out to be crocks.

It is quite astonishing how much political success the promoters of cagw scaremongering have had. I suspect the 'over-the-top' but very effective media-spinning and political exploitation of these supposed 'death-threats' is a reflection of where their real skills lie.

May 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"In the past fortnight official information has been released that the ‘death threats’ were fiction. "

No. Simon Turnhill, a sceptic, asked for emails regarding six specific academics (out of 30 - his choice) over a six month period. That hardly covers it. And from that ANU was able to find 11 of which 10 were abusive, according to the Commissioner, and one was intimidating, with maybe a threat of harm.

Well, that's not nothing. And it only covers messages received on campus. Quadrant seems to think the threat doesn't count because it was made off campus. I don't know why that is meant to mean it can be ignored.

The Commissioner emphasised that his actual finding was not whether the messages were dangerous, but whether releasing them, identifying info removed, would create a danger.

Here is the response of the original reporter, Caroline Beeby. And more from Graham Readfearn. And here are some extracts from emails to people other than the six ANU staff. It's nasty stuff, and not surprising that it worries people.

May 7, 2012 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

I have not come across a better use of one of my favourite words in a long time ....

"The country’s highest science panjandrums, the executive committee of the Academy of Science ........................"

"Panjandrum" - A self important person of rank ............ somebody, especially an official, who is pompous or pretentious

May 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

Good old Nick Stokes.

I recall mass threats from Greenpeace to sceptics and "deniers":

We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.

May 7, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Mr Stokes, you seem to moving the goalposts. The issue being debated is the existence of "death threats".

It is quite clear that some climate scientists are receiving abusive e-mails. Although highly regrettable and to be deplored, it is not unusual for individuals on either side of a controversial issue to be abused in this way. It has ever been so and the internet has merely served to facilitate it.

Your response simply repeats this, but provides no contradiction to the original post that implied that the "death threats" were a figment of someone's imagination. You are also somewhat ingenuous when you divert our attention to the Commissioners statement that he was ruling on the impact of the release of the e-mails. Of course he was, that was the subject of the appeal, but this is not relevant to the substantive point - Had death threats been made?

The answer appears to be no. There were no threats, let alone death threats, in the majority of the e-mails under consideration and just the possibility of a threat (again not a death threat) in a single e-mail.

It seems clear that the scientists concerned had received some abusive, and probably unpleasant and hurtful e-mails. I, and I suspect most BH readers deplore this. But there do not appear to have been death threats.

May 7, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Nick, for heaven's sake! The Redfearn link goes straight to some boringly offensive (I assume American from the language) stuff that is standard for the English-speaking nutter brigade across the world.
Yes, it's disgusting, and childish, and unpleasant. And if you've never come across it before, upsetting.
But as the saying goes, it's not personal; just business. These same people will have been writing that stuff to and about anybody that does anything that gets up their noses.
[snip] they probably recognise each other's work-names and try to out-do each other in unpleasantness. They are sad little pathetic failures. They are no threat to anyone but themselves.
And where are the death threats in that link, Nick?
I am infinitely more worried at supposedly intelligent people who want to lock me up or possibly even have me lobotomised or maybe even terminated because I disagree with their obsession with carbon dioxide. Those people are truly scary because they have the ear of government and may eventually persuade my government to add a clause to the Climate Change Act which makes denying the existence of climate change a criminal offence — climate change as they define it, you understand, since I don't deny the existence of climate change just the catastrophic anthropogenic bit if it.

May 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nick Stokes

I think we all can agree to condemn such vile language addressed to anyone. Perhaps now you will become motivated to influence, educate, and reform "your" side because it is impossible to comment on a variety of public forums with even a hint of skepticism about C-AGW alarmism without being subjected to some of the vilest smears and verbal assaults I have seen in my lifetime.

As for "death threats" we still see no evidence. Abusive name-calling does not constitute a "death threat."

p.s. Many of us (myself included) are reluctant to participate by name in what should be frank, free, and open democratic debates because we work for and with people who (we know or believe) would treat us in a discriminatory fashion merely for our opinions and beliefs. My freedoms of expression and activity are seriously circumscribed by the appalling, intolerant words and behaviors of so many people on "your" side of these debates. Because I do not (currently) wish to blight my life by expressing my views openly I must live as though in a totalitarian society..... that is what very pervasive behaviors on the "alarmist" side of the debate have given us to date in terms of civility and ordinary human decency.

May 7, 2012 at 10:28 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

It's Rosslyn Beeby, Nick Stokes, not Caroline Beeby. Are you always so sloppy in your citations? Goodness knows you can't tell the difference between workaday abuse and death threats.

May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterWB

Nick Stokes,

I have seen occasional comments of yours on various blogs that show flashes of lucidity, and then you relapse into delusion, as above. I agree with Skiphil that many on your side indulge in the intolerance of totalitarianism. For some years, circa 2005-2009, even the skeptics' right to be heard was widely challenged by alarmists in academia, politics and lamestream media. I do not use my surname on blogs because, like many others I suspect, it might jeopardise my employment. Have you ever had such concerns? No Nick, the vast majority of frightening people are on your side, not ours.

May 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Mike Jackson - instead of regrettable, I'd call it deserved abuse.

You say tomato. I say tomotto.

When a uni type sits in self appointed judgement on the entire human race, and finds his or her own kind guilty, based on the slim and less than slim evidence that we have all seen examples of here, if you are that guy you damn sure better be expecting those chickens to come home to roost.
If they're just doing it to line their pockets, or playing the game of going along to get along, then this isn't a patch to the abuse they deserve.

May 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterpapertiger

I'm quite appalled to discover that Ian Chubb, former ANU vice-chancellor and newly-installed Chief Scientist, considers Galileo to be a figure from the "Middle Ages".

May 7, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

I think the death threats of the sceptics is very real. There is a threat of death to the AGW theory. The Quadrant magazine and "climate scientists" (or should that be climate "scientists"?) have cause to be concerned.

May 7, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Interesting to see Nick & Zed trying to reposition the argument as usual. Because in the world of the left victimhood is currency, and for the thin skinned and the professionally offended even a mild critique from the likes of us is probably a veiled death threat.

Like being able to call your opponent a racist or a bigot, in their circles it instantly wins the debate.

May 7, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

'....the science community, which normally prides itself on checking evidence.'

Oh - REALLY..??

May 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

'... considers Galileo to be a figure from the "Middle Ages".'

This is why we have all the controversy about the MWP. The scientists do not know when it was!

May 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

The elements involved an organized and possibly funded campaign ...

There it is. The "well funded" part of "well funded and coordinated" is crumbling. Maybe next will be "organized" or "coordinated."

May 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

There's a "Death Threat Hotspot" out there, just waiting to be discovered. Someday.

May 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

Nick Stokes, when Ms Beeby starts a sentence with "And, unlike the anonymous climate-hate emailers" you really shouldn't take her too seriously. What on earth is a climate-hate emailer? And BTW it's Rosslyn Beeby, not Caroline, but you've never been noted for getting your facts straight.

Can you quote any reports that death threats have been reported to the police and if they have been have the police investigated them? No? Didn't think so, but we've had this drivel pushed down our necks for a couple of years now.

May 7, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

I don't think I mentioned 'regrettable' but I'll go along with it.
Abuse per se is pointless. It devalues the argument of the abuser and allows the abusee to take the moral high ground. It is also very often the last resort of the desperate who have no argument of their own and can only win by persuading the unaligned that their opponents are wrong because of who they are rather than what they say.
Which is why we need to be careful about suggesting that climate scientists in general are charlatans or that they are only in it for the money or any of the other statements that impugn their character. Pointing out where they lie, cheat, obfuscate, distort or otherwise behave in a manner incompatible with honest science is, of course, a different matter but only where we can provide at least some justifiable evidence that they have lied, cheated, obfuscated, etc.

May 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"Can you quote any reports that death threats have been reported to the police.."
Yes. All the initial reports (June 4 2011) said that while the ANU had not contacted the AFP (Federal Police), the police were aware of the threats.

And apologies to Ms Beeby for getting her name wrong.

May 7, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Leftism is based on 'victims' and 'oppressors', so the moment something happens that the Left doesn't like, they scream 'victim' as loud as possible and try to demonize their 'oppressors'.

'Victims' (ie Gleick) are allowed to behave any old how, 'oppressors' (ie Heartland) are not.

May 7, 2012 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

..the police were aware of the threats.
May 7, 2012 at 2:17 PM Nick Stokes

Neat sidestep Nick - but no banana.

They could hardly be "unaware" since the promoters of the hoax had plastered them all over the news media.

The question was "were they reported to the police" - which is a different matter entirely.

When you officially report a crime you have to provide evidence that it happened, and risk prosecution if you're found to be wasting their time by making things up - which is presumably why the university bureaucrat involved didn't risk reporting it.

May 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Nick ... which part part of 'Death Threats' in of 'Death Threats' do you find difficult to understand?

May 7, 2012 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

Nick doesn't find it difficult to understand anything. It is just that he is netiher ethical or truthful as they are foreign to his nature. He got right royally spanked at WUWT on this issue and instead of owning up like a man that he was wrong, he ran to David Appell's blog and spouted lies. He continues doing it here.

May 7, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenter

Personally I like to read and discuss the mechanics of the climate system, but I find the political and ethical debates on BH both informative and entertaining. Especially when the odd over the top advocate for the AGW brigade makes an entrance.

Keep up the good work - I've bought both books by the way - quite an eye opener.

May 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

"They could hardly be "unaware" since the promoters of the hoax had plastered them all over the news media."
No, the report I linked was the first mention in the press. And that's what it said.

May 7, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Let's come back to my short-lived comment from earlier this afternoon.
The police take death threats seriously, and I assume this applies equally to the Aussie police.
They also are pretty good — probably better than me or most climate scientists or Nick Stokes — at recognising the difference between a Death Threat and an immature anal-retentive engaging in a bit of [snip...please tone your comments down] whatever turns you on.
Since the Aussie police have so far not followed this up or if have they have they are keeping mighty quiet about it, I think it is safe to assume that they did not recognise what they "were aware of" as being death threats.

Nick's sidesteps would get him a spot on Strictly Come Dancing any time he likes — he might even be good enough to bamboozle the judges into letting him win.
Relevant, meaningful discussion? [snip].

May 7, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nick just one thing you can get from the offended on your side! can you get the police to furnish you with any copy of a written complaint that was filed on paper that also lead to any investigation that uncovered something bad in the state of Denmark ? [ oh and no Gleickian mock ups !] just one and I'm sure everyone will fall in line to condemn the perpetrators! maybe it's just me but reporting a crime is not just sending a fax to the bobbies saying
' nasty man did bad thing ..... that is all .......'

May 7, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

this is the proper moment to introduce the concept of Drama Queen to the larger public

May 7, 2012 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

this is the proper moment to introduce the concept of Drama Queen to the larger public

May 7, 2012 at 4:23 PM | ptw>>>

On Strictly Come Dancing?

May 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

I have only 3 words to say to that, RKS....Fab u lous!!!

May 7, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Spot the difference.

Abortion paper led to death threat
TWO Melbourne academics have received death threats after writing a theoretical paper that argues killing a newborn baby should be allowed in cases where an abortion would have been granted.
Dr Minerva said she had notified police about the death threats and feared for her safety.
The University of Melbourne has reported the incident to the police and said it was assisting Dr Minerva.

May 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

No, the report I linked was the first mention in the press. And that's what it said.
May 7, 2012 at 3:13 PM Nick Stokes

From The Australian May 3rd:-

The Australian Federal Police division responsible for law enforcement in Canberra, ACT Policing, said it was not contacted by the university over the matter. "As no complaint has been received, no investigation has taken place," a spokesman said..........The university yesterday refused to say why no complaint was lodged with the police.

But you knew that already Nick - because it was pointed out to you at WUWT.

Perhaps it had just slipped your mind when you ignored it in your comment here.

May 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Is nick stokes get paid to look a fool on blogs or does he do it for free?

Simply publish the emails. Show us the warnings, cautions and convictions based on these threats. I won't be holding my breath.

Nick, stop making a fool of yourself.

May 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Nick - perhaps you want to trot out Santer's dead rat and the yellow Hummer story?

May 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Ah Nick,

The problem is that we now have several of the claims of "Death Threats" turn out to be nothing. Combine that with what was seen in the Climate Gate emails and the animus of proof is now on your side.

We no long must accept your word for anything. Instead if you want to be believed you MUST produce proof of your claims. Otherwise you are just talking so much nonsense. You link to a news story but there is no proof that they actually did report to the police anything. At this point to be believed you must produce at minimum the following two pieces of evidence. Then there might be something to believe in the deathgate claims.

First you must produce copies with headers of the some or all of the "Death Threats". Just producing emails without headers won't do. Must have the full relevant headers that can be tracked by a professional.

Second the claim is that this was reported to the police. That means there must be a report on file with the police. So produce a copy of the complaint as filed. Or even the Police case number.

With those two pieces of evidence you and your side are just lieing about their being any "Death Threats". At this point there is no requirement that we believe you unreservedly. So you must produce actual proof if you wish to be believed.

May 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterLamontT

"The end justifies the means."

That motto is something of a litmus test I use when evaluating a given (environmental) issue.

And for the highest profile environmental issue let's say it was proven conclusively that CO2 was a trace gas with minimal impact on climate change. I firmly believe that, regardless of such a conclusion, many advocates of CO2 reduction would say it didn't really matter because reducing CO2 is good anyways for pollution reasons, running out of oil, clean energy is "better", etc.

The Peter Glieck incident with Heartland comes to mind. Heartland's "bad" so we can overlook the means. I feel that this (emailed death threats) is but another example. The "death threat" claim appears to be an exaggeration which people who feel the "end" is more important have absolutely no problem glossing over. And if it was truly never reported to the police then they knew they were exaggerating.

To some, what you accomplish is far more important than how you accomplish it. And worse, some think this technique can only apply to them since their accomplishments are worthy while others are not. It's a witch's brew of self importance, hypocrisy, arrogance, intellectual and moral superiority which is all ironically trying to compensate for a massive inferiority complex, subconscious guilt and mild paranoia.

May 7, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeC

"Nick Stokes, I have seen occasional comments of yours on various blogs that show flashes of lucidity, and then you relapse into delusion, as above." -- Chris M

I've wondered for some time whether "Nick Stokes" isn't two (or more) persons, one quite rational, the other an ill-informed, illogical Rommulan spittle spewer. Or maybe he just has a thorn in his Birkenstocks on the odd day.

May 7, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

It appears that these so-called "death threats", on investigation turned out to be nothing much.

However, we should all be cautious to understand that some unscrupulous characters on the side opposite the sceptics could easily send anonymous e:mails containing death threats to members of their own side (Phil Jones, Michael Mann etc), thus giving the target a claim on public sympathy and a basis for denigrating the sceptics generally.

These tactics are well understood in some other circles - google "false flag attacks".

May 7, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered Commentermondo

Off topic I know but this is too important not to share. Shark plus jumping methinks:

May 7, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

No surprise here, always thought the claims were largely or entirely BS, like all similarly sourced info.

Prof. Jones + successful FOI = shame faced Phil.

May 7, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterx-poster

Not Fake Death Threats but a real green terrorist!

Terrorist Bill Ayers invited to GreenFestival.

May 7, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

To Nick Stokes

Name calling is one thing, but the reason I remain anonymous here, is that if it was known that I was a climate skeptic my career would be over. My field is not only ideologically left, but is obsessed with CAGW. It is an article of faith.

If CAGW proponents are so nice and unthreatening then how can my career be at risk for speaking out?

I have a friend who works in DECC (CAGW belief is very much expected). Even he can speak out as a non-believer. Everyone just ignores him, and his career is permanently stalled, but at least he can't be fired. I, on the other hand, would never be allowed to work again.

Scary, huh?

May 7, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record


The real difference is that quite a lot of "sceptics" have jumped in to attack heartland over the billboards. Did any of the Warmists do they same over Gleick? The only damning voice came from jame Annan, who was promptly engulfed by the tides of stokesian right-thinkers - it is not proper and seemly to criticise anything said or done by anyone on the team's side.

May 7, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Off topic I know but this is too important not to share. Shark plus jumping methinks:

May 7, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Paul>>>>Just mention climate change in the application and you'll get a research grant for absolutely anything.

I, myself, was thinking of applying for a grant to research climate change proof swimming pools in by back garden.

May 7, 2012 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

A beatification of climate scientists in a bar brawl.

May 7, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiri Moudry

I, myself, was thinking of applying for a grant to research climate change proof swimming pools in by back garden.
May 7, 2012 at 7:18 PM RKS


I'm working up a grant proposal for research into whether it's possible to run a Range Rover Vogue on 15yr old Glenmorangie.

Phase I will be the control study running on conventional fuel for 12 months - followed by five years of experimenting with different proportions of the novel fuel mixed with petrol.

Because of of the storage and health & safety aspects involved in experimental fuel mixtures - we'll have to budget for a considerable amount of wastage.

May 7, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Could try running it on Dinosaur gas

May 7, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Foxgoose. you are on to something but you need to consider including an analysis of the effects of teleconnection on the energy content of RangeRover fuel. Such an experiment would be conducted by locating cases of Glenmorangie at a specified distance from the automotive fuel supply and then gradually reducing the quantity of Glenmorangie over a year to appraise the effect of this reduction on the enthusiasm of the fuel supply.

I would apply if lab assistance was needed for this very worthy study. I have references.

May 7, 2012 at 9:08 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Foxgoose ... might I suggest that you investigate the beneficial and adverse effects of having both the driver and the vehicle, respectively, run on various mixtures of your 'fuel to be investigated'. For instance, what is more detrimental to the Range Rover for a given amount of that 'sustainable fuel'?

And since the outcome of these experiments by necessity have to be described in statistical terms, I suggest you both involve a trained statistician, and conduct a huge number of experiments to get robust empirical evidence for your conclusions ..

May 7, 2012 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonas N

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