First climate change advocates attempted to smear skeptics as akin to flat-Earthers, and since that tactic has failed, they’re playing the victimization card. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which promotes the idea of anthropogenic global warming, released a statement yesterday alleging Freedom of Information Act requests and other legal challenges have created a “hostile environment” for climate scientists, and may lead to a “chilling effect” at research institutions.

“Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges [emphasis mine] have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public,” reads the statement. “This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.”

The AAAS seems to be particularly concerned with FOIA requests against climate scientists. During the past few years, these requests have helped expose information that severely discredited the global warming advocacy movement.

“The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and intimidate scientists,” said AAAS, which bills itself as the world’s largest scientific society. “The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse.”

The group added it was concerned that “establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.”

Of course, what the AAAS calls “personal information” actually appears to be public data. The group’s statement comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed against NASA by the conservative American Traditional Institute earlier this month, which is trying to force the agency to release information about scientist James Hansen.

And after years of watching climate change advocates demonizing global warming skeptics, it’s hard to have any sympathy for the AAAS on this issue. Not to mention, previously leaked emails have shown climate change scientists behaving in ways abusive to the public trust. Skeptics should absolutely work to expose any potential corruption in the global warming advocacy community — and the fact AAAS is so terrified of legal challenges is good reason to believe these skeptics might be onto something.

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