The government should march off to jail scientists and others who don’t support man-made global warming theories, according to 20 climate scientists from several universities and research centers.
The group recently sent a letter to the White House, urging President Barack 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 letter supports a recent proposal made 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,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in May.
In their letter, the 20 scientists advocate the investigation of fossil fuel companies, as well as a broader sweep of corporations and other organizations with whom they disagree.
“Aside from the direct attack on the rights to freedom of speech and the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, this letter is horrifically bad for science,” said Calvin Beisner, founder of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
Vigorous debate is essential to the health of science, Beisner noted. History overflows with instances in which “overwhelming scientific consensus” has been proven wrong. He pointed to 1 Thessalonians 5:21, where the Apostle Paul urges Christians to test all things, as a good model for scientific assessment as well as spiritual analysis.
“That’s really the key to science, and it includes testing ideas for which people claim scientific consensus,” Beisner said. “That testing can’t happen without freedom to debate.”
Judith Curry, a Georgia Institute of Technology climatologist, believes actions like the scientists’ letter and Whitehouse’s proposal are intended to make pariahs out of scientists who are doing what scientists are supposed to do: critically evaluate evidence, publish their work in the scientific literature, and work with policy makers to assess the impacts and unintended consequences of policy options. In a democracy, political opponents or scientists with a different view should not be criminalized, she wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.
Demands to prosecute those with whom they disagree on science research and policy “represents a new low in the politicization of science,” Curry wrote.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: flickr.com
Publication date: October 5, 2015