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

Scientists cite e-mails, intimidation. Denier says his side gets threats, too.

ByABC News
May 23, 2010, 3:57 PM

May 23, 2010 — -- Climate scientist Michael Mann says he has received hundreds of them -- threatening e-mails and phone calls calling him a criminal, a communist or worse.

"6 feet under, with the roots, is were you should be," one e-mail reads. "How know 1 one has been the livin p*ss out of you yet, i was hopin i would see the news that you commited suicide, Do it."

"I've been called just about everything in the book," Mann, who runs of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, told ABC News. "It's an attempt to chill the discourse, and I think that's what's most disconcerting."

Mann is not the only one. The FBI says it's seeing an uptick in threatening communications to climate scientists. Recently, a white supremacist website posted Mann's picture alongside several of his colleagues with the word "Jew" next to each image.

One climate scientist, who did not wish to be identified, told ABC News he's had a dead animal left on his doorstep, and now sometimes travels with bodyguards.

"Human-caused climate change is a reality," Mann said. "There are clearly some who find that message inconvenient, and unfortunately they appear willing to turn to just about any tactics to try to suppress that message."

Many climate scientists, however, say the most disturbing recent example of what they call intimidation is not anonymous hate mail.

Rather, they point to a governmental report released in February by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the most vocal climate skeptics in office, which names 17 climate scientists and argues some of them may have engaged in "potentially criminal behavior."

Inhofe's report referred to an incident late last year known as "Climate Gate," in which e-mails hacked from computers at the University of East Anglia in Britain gave the impression some climate scientists may have been trying to hide flaws in their research. Several subsequent investigations have exonerated the scientists' work.

One section of Inhofe's report outlined the laws the scientists may have violated, including the Federal False Statements Act, which the report noted could be punishable with imprisonment of "not more than five years."