*UPDATE/CORRECTION: This post was based on an article in the Independent, which has since been changed. This is the original headline:
It is only available on the wayback machine:
Now it reads:
Many other outlets, including Yahoo News picked up the story.
This has come about because the biologist in question made a joke, and the reporter used the quote verbatim. The blog “On Second Thought” delved into the details:
Wiens confirmed that he did, in fact, say Trump should kill himself, but noted the statement was made as joke:
“On Thursday, December 8, I was contacted by Ian Johnston from The Independent, ostensibly to talk about my paper on climate change and extinction that was being published in PLoS Biology (the paper actually received serious reporting by Brandie Wiekle from CBC News and others).
“Unfortunately, Mr. Johnston admitted that he had not read my paper, and apparently had little interest in talking about it. It turned out that he only wanted to talk about Donald Trump. I did not. He asked me what I would say to Donald Trump. I said that I really did not think that Donald Trump cared at all what I thought.
“Obviously, I hoped that this would be the end of the topic. He persisted. I did therefore say that Trump should “kill himself immediately” (i.e., his doing this seems about as likely as him following any recommendation from an obscure scientist like myself about stopping climate change). I then made sure that it was clear that it was a joke.”
Johnston’s original story did note it was a joke, but Wiens was nonetheless surprised it got into print:
“I also assumed, wrongly, that it (the joke) would not be reported, since the statement was meant to be ridiculous. He did NOT report my preceding statement that I did not think Trump cared what I thought. He then kept persisting with the same question about Trump.
“Next, to further indicate that I wanted to change the subject, I suggested that the UK should make its former colonies switch leaders, so that the U.S. gets Justin Trudeau and Canada gets Donald Trump (as in, to make both the U.S. and Donald Trump nicer after a few years).”
In a subsequent email, Wiens told me that he and Johnston are in disagreement over what was on or off the record.
So for those confused by the headline, Weins did in fact say that, intended it as a joke, and thought he was in the clear. This illustrates the perils of making jokes while talking to a reporter. President Ronald Reagan learned the hard way back in the 80’s with his famous bombing quote. From the Wikipedia account:
On August 11, 1984, United StatesPresidentRonald Reagan, while running for re-election, was preparing to make his weekly Saturday radio address on National Public Radio. During a sound check before the address, Reagan made the following joke to the radio technicians: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” The joke was a parody of the opening line of that day’s speech: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they’ve too long been denied — the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do.”
Contrary to popular misconception, this microphone gaffe was not broadcast over the air, but rather leaked later to the general populace.
So for all those people who got their panties in a twist over this (Brandon S. for example), that’s the clarification.
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Yahoo reports on another outbreak of green peace and love, this time from Arizona Professor John Wiens.
‘Kill yourself immediately’: Biologist takes aim at climate change denier Donald Trump
An evolutionary biologist who says all animal life could be wiped out in as little as 50 years has instructed Donald Trump to “kill yourself immediately”.
Professor John Wiens took aim at the controversial president elect, who refutes the existence of climate change, while describing the “global disaster” taking hold of our planet.
The Arizona University scientist found that 47 per cent of almost 1000 species had suffered local extinctions linked to climate change, according to the Independent.
Professor Wiens joked that if he ever got to meet Trump he would instruct him to “kill himself”, but when questioned again he gave a more serious answer.
“I guess I would tell him ‘what would you think if there was a country on the other side of the world that was releasing gas that was going to cause extinctions in our country, to hurt our crops and make people starve?’
“He would say, ‘tell me where it is and we’ll bomb them tomorrow’. Then I’d say, ‘this is what we’re doing to other countries because we are the big polluters’.”
You might think Professor Wiens has eaten one field trip mushroom too many, but in terms of Arizona academics he’s actually an optimist. WUWT reported in November this year that according to Arizona colleague Professor-emeritus Guy McPherson we don’t have to worry about climate change, because the 6th mass extinction will kill us all off in the next ten years, regardless of what we do.