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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rush Limbaugh keeps attacking women, now it is University of Oregon sociology professor Kari Norgaard's turn for writing about climate change deniers

Sociology professor draws Limbaugh’s ire

The conservative radio host and bloggers attack Kari Norgaard for her work on climate change

(Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012 05:01AM
University of Oregon professor Kari Norgaard had the honor last week of taking part in a panel discussion in London at a prestigious meeting of scientists on the subject of climate change.
But upon her return, she found her name on Rush Limbaugh’s lips, her university e-mail stuffed with hundreds of hateful messages and the UO itself under attack in the blogosphere for “Stalinesque” changes to its website.
“Maybe they’ll soon go from being called The Mighty Ducks to ‘The Mighty Schmucks,’ ” one of the bloggers wrote.
The subject of the bloggers’ ire appears to have sprung from an inaccurate description of Norgaard’s work that appeared in a UO news release.
It said: “Resistance at individual and societal levels must be recognized and treated before real action can be taken to effectively address threats facing the planet from human-­caused contributions to climate change.”
Norgaard’s study, which she is working on with professor Robert Brulle at Drexel University in Philadelphia, actually suggested that societal resistance to the idea of climate change should be recognized and addressed through “dialogue,” Brulle said.
But bloggers seized on the words “and treated” in the UO news release, and spread a mushrooming and false story that Norgaard had delivered a paper in London that called climate skeptics “sick” or “mentally ill” and in need of “psychoactive drugs.”
“This is a complete perversion of the whole intellectual project that’s going on,” Brulle said. “It’s an absolute, utter distortion.”
Limbaugh extrapolated about Norgaard further on his website: “This is the kind of person that Obama would hire,” he said. “This the kind of person Obama has hired. This is the kind of thinking that Obama believes and sponsors.
“It’s what he believes. It’s what he was taught.”
Norgaard said Tuesday that she found nothing on the critical websites or in the e-mail messages to which she could respond.
“I don’t think this is a space where there’s a real public discourse,” she said. “It’s obvious to me that people aren’t interested in what I actually have to say.
“These are personal attacks. ... If you’re interested in my work, read it. It’s OK to disagree about things, but do so in an honest way and don’t attack people personally.”
Norgaard is the author of “Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life,” a book published a year ago by MIT Press.
In recent years, a half-dozen or so researchers have experienced the kind of Web-based campaigns that Norgaard is seeing this week, said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.
Mann said he was an early target of climate change skeptics after former Vice President Al Gore used Mann’s dramatic graph in the documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It showed steady temperatures for 1,000 years and then a sharp uptick in global temperatures at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Mann also was named in the so-called Climate­gate incident, in which hackers published e-mail threads and suggested that climate scientists were massaging the facts and misleading the public.
“I’ve been subject to death threats,” Mann said. “They’re not just against me, but threats of harm to my family, my wife and 6-year-old daughter.”
Mann’s just-published book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” documents what he calls concerted efforts to discredit climate science by attacking individual scientists.
“Dr. Norgaard is just the latest in a long line of very respected, responsible scientists who are being attacked because their message, frankly, is a threat to some very powerful vested interests,” Mann said.
This year, he said, at least two attacks on other academics have come to light:
After Katharine Hayhoe, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas Tech University, published her own views on being an evangelical Christian who agrees with the science supporting human-caused global warming, she got screens full of hate e-mails, Mann said.
Kerry Emanuel, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate program, was bombarded with vile e-mails after he appeared in a video produced by some pro-science Republicans, Mann said.
Mann said the bloggers’ tactics are tried and true.
“It was the same tactic used by the tobacco industry to try to discredit scientists who were finding the linkage between the use of their product and adverse health effects,” he said.
Mann asserted that many of the bloggers are paid by fossil fuel industry groups to deliver a purposefully crafted message: “They use very carefully calibrated rhetoric,” he said. “They use buzzwords. They try to portray climate scientists as environmental extremists who are trying to take away your personal liberty.”
Mann said universities are ill-equipped to respond to Web-based personal attacks on their faculty.
In hindsight, Jim Barlow, director of science research communications at the UO, said he regretted using the word “treated” in the news release about Norgaard’s work, calling it a poor word choice.
Then, in an effort to shift the focus back to the actual topic of the conference presentation, Barlow said that around midday Monday he removed the word “treated” from the version of the news release that appears on the university’s website.
But that merely fanned the flames among some bloggers, who then wrote posts about a “cover-up” and a Soviet-style rewrite of history at the UO.
The UO, however, did back up its faculty member.
“They’ve made it clear they recognize that this is not about my work, and my work is good,” Norgaard said. “They’ve provided me with assistance about how to handle my e-mail.”
Mann said protecting academic freedom in the face of such attacks is key.
“We have to shine a light at what’s going on here,” he said. “This has to be exposed. They want us to shrink away from the attacks and disappear into our labs.”

1 comment:

gbarrett said...

Limbaugh is a textbook bully. His supporters who cheer him on are just as bad, they are the by-standers. I notice on his site that he doesn't have a comment section. I would say this on his site and to his face. I would love to tell him to his face that he is an overblown bully. And, if you look at his site, you can see just how he twists Norgaard's words and outright lies about what she said. For example he QUOTES Norgaard as saying: "' If you don't believe in climate change, you must be sick.'" He has that in quotes and says she says it. He is a bully and a liar. No one should advertise on this guy's site. He should be retired asap.