Today's award goes to an Italian court, which has convicted seven people for failing to give adequate warning of an earthquake that killed over 300 people. Reuters reports:
Scientists warned that researchers in areas involving unpredictable natural threats, like volcanology and even meteorology, will now be more reluctant to offer advice and insight to the public.
"If it stands, this verdict will have a chilling effect on earthquake science in Italy and throughout Europe," said Sandy Steacy, professor of earthquake physics at the University of Ulster.
"Who would now be willing to serve on an earthquake hazard evaluation panel when getting it wrong could mean a conviction for manslaughter?"
. . .
"Imagine if the government brought criminal charges against your local meteorologist for not being able to predict the exact path of a tornado," said Halpern. "Scientists need to be able to share what they know - and admit what they do not know — without the fear of being held criminally responsible should their predictions not hold up".
There's more at the link.
It seems to me this is yet another manifestation of the 'nanny state'. I suspect the court felt that, since the scientists concerned were publicly funded to research warning signs of earthquakes, they'd been paid to give warnings, but had failed to do so. Their failure was thus (I presume) not a lack of due scientific diligence, but a failure to provide a return on the nanny state's investment.
Whatever the court's reasoning, I suggest it's just ensured that no further scientific warnings or reassurances will be given in Italy concerning any natural phenomena whatsoever . . .