The Spanish government came to the defence of the country’s AEMET weather agency on Friday, which has suffered threats and abuse from climate conspiracy theorists over its forecasts during a record drought.
Some of the anonymous messages sent to AEMET in recent weeks on social media, by email and also by phone, have included being labelled ‘murderers’ and criminals’, as well as being warned, ‘you’ll pay for this’ and ‘we’re watching you’.
The threats were responding to forecasts and reports published by AEMET, notably over last week’s early heatwave, when mainland Spain registered its hottest-ever temperature for April, reaching 38.8 C in Córdoba.
‘Enough is enough,’ wrote Ecology Minister Teresa Ribera on Twitter. ‘Lying, fuelling conspiracies and fear, being insulting … impoverishes us as a society and has unacceptable consequences.’
In a video published last month on Twitter that highlighted some of the abuse it had received, AEMET called for ‘respect’ for its staff.
‘While we respect freedom of expression and welcome interaction, not everything is OK,’ it said.
Greenpeace Spain said it was ‘very concerned about the aggressive tone taken by some climate deniers and conspiracy theorists’.
In an interview with the El Diario, AEMET’s spokeswoman Estrella Gutiérrez said she had ‘never’ come across such aggression in her 30 years of working in the sector.
‘Climate change is obviously real. The latest IPCC report and others before it, found that climate change is bringing episodes of higher temperatures and now we’re feeling it,’ she said.
Last week’s scorching temperatures worsened drought conditions that have already seen some farmers chosing not to sow crops this year.
In 2022, Spain experienced its hottest year since records began, with United Nations figures suggesting nearly 75% of the country is susceptible to desertification due to climate change. ALSO READ: Confirmed: 2022 was Spain’s hottest year on record.
With water reservoirs at half their capacity and farmers unions saying 60% of agricultural land is ‘suffocating’ from lack of rain, Spain has asked Brussels to help by activating the European Unoin’s agriculture crisis reserve funds. ALSO READ: Spain requests emergency funds from EU as drought hits farmers.
Mentir, dar alas a la conspiración y al miedo, insultar… nos empobrece como sociedad y tiene como resultado consecuencias tan rechazables y negativas como las que denuncian los meteorólogos @AEMET_Esp.— Teresa Ribera 🌹 (@Teresaribera) May 5, 2023
Es hora de decir basta.https://t.co/KsVqvnplRP
AEMET en #RedesSociales— AEMET_Corporativa (@Aemet_Corpora) April 18, 2023
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Pero todo NO vale⛔️ pic.twitter.com/xnyWFtBrTy