Scientists Urge Investigation of Climate Change Skeptics

climate change

Climate change is the focus of dueling calls for investigation in Washington.

The controversy began Sept. 1, when a consortium of 20 climate scientists urged the Obama administration in a letter to investigate researchers who don’t support man-made climate change theories.

In response, Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, suggested this month that he may investigate a nonprofit science organization whose president was the lead signatory of the letter urging President Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to investigate “corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”

Congress enacted the RICO Act in 1970 to fight organized crime syndicates. Those found guilty of racketeering — criminal activity designed to benefit an organization — may face prison sentences of up to 20 years and seizure of financial assets. The Justice Department used the RICO Act in 1999 to successfully prosecute major tobacco companies.

The Sept. 1 letter stated, “If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds” alleged in books and journal articles by scientists who believe in human-induced climate change, “it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible.”

The letter supported a proposal by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to initiate a RICO investigation of fossil fuel corporations and their supporters. Whitehouse compared fossil fuel companies to those who promoted the tobacco industry and deceived the American public about the dangers of smoking.

“The parallels between what the tobacco industry did and what the fossil fuel industry is doing now are striking,” Whitehouse wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in May.

The last paragraph of Whitehouse’s op-ed, however, qualified his accusations.

“To be clear,” Whitehouse wrote, “I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don’t have enough information to make that conclusion. Perhaps it’s all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke.”


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SOURCE: WORLD News Service, Baptist Press