‘Murderers’ and ‘criminals’: Meteorologists face unprecedented harassment from conspiracy theorists

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These are just a handful of the threats and abuse sent to meteorologists at AEMET, Spain’s national weather agency, in recent months. They come via social media, its website, letters phone calls – even in the form of graffiti sprayed across one of its buildings.

Abuse and harassment “have always happened” against the agency’s scientists, Estrella Gutiérrez-Marco, spokesperson for AEMET, told CNN.

But there has been a rapid rise recently, coinciding with extreme weather in Spain. A severe drought has shrunk water levels to alarming lows, exacerbated by record-breaking April temperatures.

The abuse got so bad that in April, AEMET posted a video on Twitter calling for an end to the harassment, and asking for respect. Even the government intervened. Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for the ecological transition, posted on Twitter in support of the agency: “Lying, giving wings to conspiracy and fear, insulting … It is time to say enough.”

The harassment of meteorologists by conspiracy theorists and climate deniers is not a phenomenon confined to Spain.

National weather services, meteorologists and climate communicators in countries from the US to Australia say they’re experiencing an increase in threats and abuse, often around accusations they are overstating, lying about or even controlling the weather.

In Spain’s case, much of the trolling revolves around the rehashing of an old conspiracy theory: so-called “chemtrails.”

Under many of the agency’s Twitter posts, especially those that refer to more extreme weather, users have posted images of blue skies, crisscrossed with wispy, white trails. They falsely claim the trails contain a cocktail of chemicals to artificially manipulate the weather – keeping rain away and causing climate change.

It’s a theory roundly rejected by scientists.

Content retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/27/world/meteorologists-conspiracy-harassment-abuse-climate-intl/index.html.

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