Climate Scientists Claim 'McCarthy-Like Threats,' Say They Face Intimidation, Ominous E-Mails

"No one is advocating violence," Morano said, "but it is refreshing to see these scientists hear from the public. When you go to a used-car salesman and you get conned ... you don't go back to the used-car dealer all happy and pleasant. You have a lot of anger, and that's what these scientists are appropriately feeling."

Gavin Schmidt of NASA dismissed the idea that climate change is a hoax.

"It's nonsense," Schmidt said. "Scientists are hyper competitive. ... The idea that you could fool all of these people or get them to just buy into some global conspiracy, is laughable."

Many scientists say the harassment they endure stifles scientific discovery and progress.

"Good scientists just go where the evidence takes them," said Peter Gleick, a hydro-climatologist and president of the Pacific Institute. "The idea that they would be limited by politicians in what they can evaluate or study or say, is anathema to them."

Scientists Issue Public Letter

Gleick, along with 254 other members of the National Academy of Sciences, recently signed a public letter calling for an end to the intimidation of climate scientists.

"Many recent assaults on climate science, and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory," read the letter, which was published in Science magazine earlier this month.

"We ... call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distraction to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them," the letter continued.

Gavin Schmidt of NASA said attacks are meant to keep scientists from speaking out about climate change in public.

"They're trying to dissuade people from being involved in the public discussion about what this means and what we can do to prevent it," he said. "I think people who care about the integrity of science in this country should find that worrying."

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