Watch the ad that made Australian climate scientists get death threats
I'm no Peggy Olson, but if someone asked me to put together an ad that would NOT cause anybody to get death threats, I'd probably say something like: "Make it positive and upbeat about the future. Throw a baby in there. Can we get Cate Blanchett? See if we can get Cate Blanchett." Positivity + babies + gorgeous actresses seems like a pretty good recipe for getting people to, if not agree with you, at least not want to KILL YOU. But this ad promotes a carbon tax, and that tends to get people really riled up. Riled up enough to threaten climate scientists with such frequency and viciousness that many of them are going into hiding.
Australia's prime minister hopes to enact a carbon tax plan this summer, and Cate et al. support the measure because it will lower pollution, create jobs, and combat global warming. The ad, with its controversial images of happily employed construction workers, healthy babies, and Oscar-winning actresses, sparked a campaign of vicious email attacks that have led some Australian climate scientists to move to high-security university buildings, install alarm systems at home, and remove accessible contact information. More than 30 top researchers across the country have reported being targeted with threats of violence, sexual assault, and libel.
And it's not just Cate's smiling face that's pissing people off — anti-environment sentiment seems to be at a boiling point. One scientist said she received "threats of sexual assault and violence against her children" for promoting community tree-planting.
Climate of fear: scientists face death threats,