A group of climate change scientists are calling on the White House to criminalise all forms of ‘climate change skepticism’ in a move that they say will help make progress on climate change policies.
The 20 scientists a showing support of a proposal by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) for a RICO investigation of fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, who they say have deceived the American public on the risks of climate change.
RICO, short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a federal law enacted in 1970 as a crime-fighting tool for use against the Mafia. It includes prison sentences of up to 20 years and seizure of financial assets for those found guilty of such “racketeering.”
Senator Whitehouse singled out one climate scientist, Willie Soon, a solar physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who argues that changes in solar radiation, rather than carbon emissions, are the major force behind global warming.
Seven other climate scientists were the targets of a recent McCarthyite ‘witch hunt’ by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). I was one of the seven. Rep. Grijalva indicated that I was investigated because of my recent Congressional testimony summarizing peer-reviewed research indicating that the magnitude and impacts of expected warming could be less than generally believed.
None of the Grijalva 7 was found to have engaged in wrongdoing of any sort, yet there have been significant career consequences for some.
The demand by Senator Whitehouse and the 20 climate scientists for legal persecution of people whose research on science and policy they disagree with represents a new low in the politicization of science.
The role of these 20 scientists is particularly troubling. The consequence of this persecution, intended or not, is to make pariahs of scientists who are doing exactly what we expect of researchers: to critically evaluate evidence and publish that work in the scientific literature.