Sheldon Whitehouse Continues To Push To Prosecute Climate Skeptics

Back in the spring, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) brought out the idea to use the RICO statues to prosecute those who have climate wrongthink. Especially fossil fuels companies. Despite Whitehouse himself refusing to give up his own use of fossil fuels. Now he writes more on the subject in the Providence Journal

Sheldon Whitehouse: Fraudulent speech is not protected

The Founding Fathers built our judicial system to withstand the special interest pressures that beset the political branches of government. A case heard in court, before a neutral judge or jury, is subject to judicial tests like proof under oath and cross-examination (dubbed “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth” by the Supreme Court), not just to political power.

The concerted program of climate change denial, funded largely by fossil fuel interests, should now face those tests. We know that the court process can work, even in the face of massive industry pressure, because our government brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry for a similar campaign of denial of tobacco’s health effects.

The federal judge’s decision in the tobacco case declared that the “[d]efendants knew there was a consensus in the scientific community that smoking caused lung cancer and other diseases. Despite that fact, they publicly insisted that there was a scientific controversy and disputed scientific findings linking smoking and disease knowing their assertions were false.”

Reread those sentences, replacing the word “smoking” with the words “carbon pollution.” Replace the references to “health” and “disease” with “climate change” or “harm to our atmosphere and oceans.” Investigative reporting shows this is an accurate description of what the fossil fuel industry has been up to. For instance, researchers at Exxon warned top executives of the risks of carbon pollution as far back as the 1970s. Instead of addressing those facts honestly, Exxon chose to sow public doubt of the emerging scientific consensus, to prevent a drop-off in sales of oil.

This is blatantly a way to deny people their 1st Amendment Rights to Free Speech, by deeming anything the Cult of Climastrology and Sheldon Whitehouse deem “fraudulent”. This is the way it works in Fascist nations.

The results are already coming home to roost in Rhode Island. The tide gauge at Naval Station Newport shows around 10 inches of sea level rise since the Hurricane of 1938 battered our coast. The mean winter water temperature in Narragansett Bay is 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than just 50 years ago.

First, neither would prove mostly/solely anthropogenic causation. Second, according to the actual data, the sea level trend for Newport, R.I. is rising at a whopping rate of 2.74mm per year, equal to a 0.9 inches of sea rise per century, well within the statistical norm for a Holocene warm period. Oh, and some of that is considered to be part of land changes post glacial period. Whitehouse attempts to paint that rise as apocalyptic, yet, it is much less than would be expected during a Holocene warm period.

There are solutions to this looming threat. Virtually every Republican willing to propose a solution to climate change supports a revenue-neutral carbon fee, where all the money raised goes straight back to the American people. This includes conservative economists, former Treasury secretaries, former Environmental Protection Agency administrators, and former members of Congress.

Democrats are willing to meet them there, and I have proposed legislation that will do just that. But industry, empowered by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment in Citizens United to spend unlimited amounts expressing its views in our elections, holds Republicans in Congress back.

How dare anyone use their Constitutional Free Speech to block an out-of-control central government from instituting draconian taxes and private sector controls!!!!

In the meantime, I believe history will reveal and condemn a massive disinformation campaign, funded by the fossil fuel industry, and propagated through a network of front organizations to obscure the hand of the industry. Some say that seeking a day in court on this question is suppression of free speech. But if this campaign is fraudulent, it does not deserve and it does not get protection under the First Amendment.

Protected free speech has boundaries, and one boundary is fraud. The test of whether the denial campaign amounts to fraud is the test established by the Founding Fathers: a case, in a neutral court of law, where the truth can be tested with evidence, under oath and by cross-examination.

And that right there is his plan: drag Skeptical companies, groups, and individuals into court, using the Power of the Federal Government, to prove that they aren’t engaged in fraud. This breaks another prime American Right, that of being innocent till proven guilty. He’s deeming Skeptics as guilty. Period.

Interestingly, Whitehouse has another op-ed complaining about carbon pollution from fossil fuels. Yet, his Twitter feed is chock full of tweets where he has certainly taken fossil fueled travel (boat, car, and plane). Does that mean he himself is engaged in fraud?

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13 Responses to “Sheldon Whitehouse Continues To Push To Prosecute Climate Skeptics”

  1. Dana says:

    To prove fraud, you must also prove that another identifiable person or organization or company or government has been defrauded; just whom does the Distinguished Gentleman from Rhode Island identify as having been defrauded?

    Further, Senator Whitehouse must also define just what actual loss has been incurred by the defrauded person. Can he specify whom has lost what to this (alleged) fraud?

    I will state now, for the record, that while my website hasn’t had all that much to say about global warming climate change — I’ve said more about it in the comments sections here — neither my website nor I have been paid in any way by the fossil fuel companies, or any other person or group, to make the statements I have.

    If someone does wish to pay me for such, he may do so here.

  2. John says:

    Teach you gotta admit math is not your strong point
    And i guess Dana might not have noticied, or chose to just not correct.
    Teach if the sea level rise is 2.74mm per year it will go up 274mm in a century If you divide 274 by 25.2 you get 10.8 inches not .9 inches.
    Now also please note that average rise of 2.74mm is figured on the last 85 years, the actual rate of increase now after 2 hottest years ever and since 1993 it has averaged 3.2mm and increase of an additional 15% If this rate of change remains constant think calculus dy/dx then we see 3-6 feet in a century

    Now about corporate funded free speech: Teach YOU have a right to say more than a corporate entity. YOU can say that your Jeep can smash into a brick wall at 100mph without injuring the occupants. BUT when a corporation says that it is fraud. If YOU wish to continue to say that smoking is not harmful of course you still can. But corporations who market tobacco are not allowed.
    Big Tobacco and their shills like Heartland Institute (who now are the main mouthpiece for fossil fuel) said that Tobacco does not cause cancer. That was a lie. It was fraud and in civil court companies were found guilty. Lord Moneyton is not allowed to say that his quack medicine “Resurrexi” to tell people in the USA that it cures cancer and multiple sclerosis

  3. It’s not math, it’s typing. That should read .9 feet

  4. […] The Pirate’s Cove has more, and also points out how Whitehouse is a big fan of fossil fueled travel, so maybe we should restrict his speech. […]

  5. jl says:

    John-“after the 2 hottest years ever.” Thanks, Mr, Drama Queen, but you know it’s not “ever” but only since 1880 or so, which when talking about earth”s climate change history is mere seconds. And of course satellite data shows no warming, where the settled science of your cult said the troposphere would warm first. “Big tobacco and the Heartland Institute…. Funny John, but there’s nothing bigger than big government, which is itself perpetuating a lie about Co2. But thanks for helping show what’s really big and what is not.

  6. Jeffery says:

    The two warmest years since 1880 are most likely the warmest 2 years for the past 20,000 years.

    The RSS satellite calculated “temperature” shows no warming since 1998, while the UAH satellite system does show warming. Both show warming since 1979.

  7. Stosh says:

    Discovery in any suit would be a hoot, produce real, unadulterated data…models not pertinent.

  8. gitarcarver says:

    It’s not math, it’s typing. That should read .9 feet

    Actually Teach, there is a math component to it.

    john, who lives under a glass bridge writes:

    If you divide 274 by 25.2 you get 10.8 inches not .9 inches.

    Presumably, john is trying to convert millimeters to inches.

    There is one problem though: john uses the wrong conversion rate.

    There are 25.4 mm per inch, not 25.2 which john says he used.

    If john wants to claim that he made a typo, that’s fine. That’s what Teach did.

    At least Teach had the maturity to say it was a typo. John and people of his ilk won’t do the same thing.

    Trolls under glass bridges shouldn’t throw stones.

  9. The two warmest years since 1880 are most likely the warmest 2 years for the past 20,000 years.

    A, proof?

    B, that still would not prove mostly/solely anthropogenic causation.

  10. Jeffery says:

    A, proof?

    Best available reconstruction is Marcott et al 2013.

    We know, we know, this Science article is THE bête noir for Deniers, and the usual suspect, committed, non-climate scientist Deniers claim this study is fraudulent and has been debunked or refuted. It hasn’t. Is this proof? No. There is precious little “proof” in science. The Earth warmed coming out of the last glacial period but has been steadily cooling (less than 1C, though) for the past several thousand years. Starting about 100 years ago, the Earth has warmed, erasing the 5000 year cooling trend. Is it possible that the Earth naturally warms and cools 1C in cycles too rapidly to have been picked up by proxy reconstructions? Sure. Is it likely? No. Deniers stake their beliefs on unknown mechanisms, unlikely events and unsupported hypotheses. Yes, we know that the Vikings used to sunbathe in Greenland, that they made wine in England and that James Imhofe found a snowball in the Senate cloakroom.

    B, that still would not prove mostly/solely anthropogenic causation.

    In fact, nothing will prove mostly/solely anthropogenic causation! On the other hand there is little evidence, let alone proof, that the current rapid warming period is mostly/solely natural, and anything but the greenhouse effect. Currently, the only plausible mechanism is the greenhouse effect resulting from CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activities. The opponents of action, all affiliated with the fossil fuels industry and their supporters, base their opposition on unscientific analyses.

  11. drowningpuppies says:

    Best available reconstruction is Marcott et al 2013

    …expert Don Easterbrook’s analysis of their study that concludes, “In the past 10,000 years, at least six other warm periods of magnitude equal to the MWP occurred; nine other warm periods that were 0.5°C warmer than the MWP occurred; two warm periods that were 1°C warmer than the MWP occurred; and three warm periods that were 1.5°C warmer than the MWP occurred. All of these periods warmer than the MWP clearly contradict the Marcott et al. conclusions.”

    A second assessment by David Middleton determined,

    “This paper appears to be a text book example of creating a Hockey Stick by using a low resolution time series for the handle and a high resolution time series for the blade…”

  12. Jeffery says:

    As I said, the usual Denier suspects lined up to criticize Marcott.

    David Middleton is a pretend scientist who works in the oil industry. Yes Dave, high resolution like the surface temperature record.

    Don Easterbrook is a crank claiming “his” PDO “data” predicts global cooling.

    Both are WUWT stalwarts.

  13. drowningpuppies says:

    Dr. Don Easterbrook a crank?

    Well if you say so.

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