The debates over Australia’s new carbon price have risen to new heights as a string of death threats have been sent to climate change scientists in recent weeks. These threats come in the wake of a new pro-carbon price TV advertisement featuring actor Cate Blanchett.
For weeks, the Australian government has come under fire for its proposal to institute a price on carbon emissions in the country. According to the government treasurer, Wayne Swan, the country can still achieve economic growth while undertaking deep cuts in carbon pollution. In a speech obtained by Reuters, Wayne points out how “the modelling will show real national income growing strongly under a carbon price, at an average annual rate per person of around 1.1% until 2050.”
Despite these projections, recent polls suggest that only 38% of Australians favor a price on carbon.
These threats completely undermine the very cornerstones of democratic debate, as they attempt to stifle science through intimidation. The vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, Professor Ian Young, acknowledged in an ABC radio interview that climate change “is an emotive issue” but that “the concept you would be threatened for your scientific view and work is something completely foreign to [scientists].”
As a result of these threats, numerous scientists have been forced to unlist their phone numbers and contact information and move to more secure locations on university campuses. One scientist was even told by police to install a panic button alarm in his office.
Due to the anonymous nature of these threats, it is difficult to determine whether there is some substance to them or whether they are just empty threats. Regardless, they are clearly rattling climate change scientists and impeding them from properly fulfilling their duties. A scientist who comes to his conclusions based on rigorous scientific research and years of training should not have to be afraid to release his findings in a democratic society.
Image CC licensed by Takver: Australian rally for climate action and carbon price, June 5 2011