Twenty climate scientists want the federal government to launch a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation against companies and organizations which have “deceived” the public about climate change.
In a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s John Holdren, the twenty write “as climate scientists we are exceedingly concerned that America’s response to climate change – indeed, the world’s response to climate change – is insufficient.”
“We are now at high risk of seriously destabilizing the Earth’s climate and irreparably harming people around the world, especially the world’s poorest people.”
We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change. The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peer-reviewed academic research … and in recent books …
The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking. If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done.
At least one of those who signed the letter appears to be rather fond of making use of government power: Rutgers University’s Alan Robock describes in loving detail his 2010 trip to Cuba — featuring a meeting with “El Comandante” himself, Fidel Castro.
Georgia Institute of Technology climate scientist Judith Curry responds to the letter:
Obviously, there’s a lot of money hanging in the balance with regard to energy policy. But when does coordinating “a wide range of activities, including political lobbying, contributions to political candidates, and a large number of communication and media efforts” go from basic First Amendment expression to racketeering? The tobacco analogy is inappropriate in regards to how direct the link between smoking and cancer is. Even among those who do agree that global warming is a problem, there’s a tremendously wide variety of opinions about the practical effects. Who gets to decide whether someone is “downplaying the role of carbon emissions in climate change” relative to the consensus? If message coordination and lobbying on controversial scientific and political issues can be declared racketeering because the people funding such efforts have a financial interest in a predetermined outcome, we’re just going to have to outlaw everything that goes on in Washington, D.C.
h/t to Climate Depot