Michael Halpern, "The Costs of a Climate of Fear," Academe, November-December 2010.
Ben Santer answered his doorbell one evening to find a dead rat on his doorstep. He looked up and saw a man driving away, shouting obscenities out the car window. It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident. But Santer had been harassed before. A groundbreaking climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he was a lead author of the 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which for the first time attributed global warming to human activity. Santer’s research had earned him high esteem from scientists and contempt from those who did not accept his conclusions.
The funders of climate-change skepticism are engaged in a full-throttle effort to sow seeds of doubt among the public and policy makers, much as tobacco companies did decades ago. Without science on their side, these groups seek to manufacture controversy by attacking scientists conducting important research. . . .