What irony. The latest attack on fellow scientists was launched by academics from a university named for the patriot who wrote the original Virginia version of our Bill of Rights. Those rights include freedom of speech and assembly, the right to petition our government, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure of our property.
Sadly, it reflects the appalling state of “academic freedom” on too many campuses, which today celebrate every kind of diversity except diversity of opinion.
Jagadish Shukla, four associates at his George Mason University-based Institute of Global Environment and Society, and 15 other climate researchers have signed an outrageous letter, asking President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate “organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”
They want people like me and the groups I work with prosecuted and punished under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
The letter claims the organizations’ “misdeeds” must be “stopped as soon as possible,” so that the world can “restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done” to human health, agriculture, biodiversity and the world’s poorest people.
Their action attempts to coerce, intimidate, slander and silence organizations and scientists who question claims that humans are causing dangerous climate change; shut down skeptic research, speech and publication; destroy skeptics’ funding, businesses and livelihoods; protect alarmist funding, standing and influence; and bankrupt skeptics, who would have to spend personal fortunes responding to a Justice Department that has limitless resources at its disposal.
RICO is used to prosecute underlying patterns or practices of criminal behavior. It defies belief to say questioning claims that humans are causing climate cataclysms — or opposing campaigns against anti-fossil fuels, modern living standards and better lives for billions of impoverished people worldwide — somehow constitutes a “criminal enterprise.”
Moreover, the “misdeeds” alluded to in the RICO-20 letter are studies, reports and discussions that contradict alarmist allegations and what cataclysm skeptics believe are exaggerations and computer model failures underlying those claims.
Indeed, extensive, solid scientific research and publications challenge the climate chaos thesis. They include satellite and weather balloon temperature data, peer-reviewed reports, conferences, articles, interviews and briefings. Not only do they undermine climate chaos theory; they are protected free speech — reflecting careful, replicable science.
“Racketeering” means conducting a “racket,” which frequently means fraudulently offering to solve a problem that does not actually exist or proffering a solution would do nothing to solve it. Many would say this definition accurately describes the climate crisis industry.
Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth’s history. Driven by powerful natural forces that we do not yet understand and certainly cannot control, it has ranged from gradual to sudden, from beneficial to harmful or even devastating.
Contrary to alarmist assertions and computer models, there is still no observational evidence that any climate changes we are experiencing today are different from what our ancestors confronted. Nor is it clear that changes are now driven by plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide instead of natural forces, nor that they could be prevented by ending fossil fuel use.
In fact, the notion that we can “restabilize” an unstable and frequently fluctuating planetary climate is absurd. So is any claim that carbon-based fuels are more damaging to human health, agriculture, biodiversity and the world’s poorest people than eliminating those fuels and relying on expensive, unreliable wind, solar and biofuel “substitutes.”
Equally doubtful is any suggestion that Mr. Shukla and his associate can understand or predict Earth’s ongoing climate variations by focusing on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and ignoring the solar, cosmic, oceanic and other natural forces that govern Earth’s climate.
The Institute of Global Environment and Society derived 99.6 percent of its 2014 funding ($3.8 million) from taxpayer-financed government agencies. It would likely lose that funding if it expressed doubts about carbon dioxide or redesigned its climate models to include natural forces — and thereby assure accurate monsoon and climate forecasting.
Mr. Shukla, his wife and daughter received salaries and other compensation totaling $499,145 in 2014 from their tax-exempt research organization. Mr. Shukla worked there only part-time, and his $333,048 compensation package “was presumably on top of his $250,866-per-year [George Mason] academic salary,” says professor Roger Pielke Jr.
That totals $750,000 a year to the RICO-20 leader and his family “from public money for climate work and going after skeptics,” Mr. Pielke adds.
The ultimate irony would be an evenhanded investigation that exonerates the skeptic organizations that the RICO-20 want investigated — and results in charges against organizations that engaged in collusion, data manipulation, junk modeling and other deceitful, alarmist research practices highlighted over the years by “Climategate” emails and various inquiries.
The alarmists are desperate. They are losing the climate science fight. Contrary to their models, planetary temperatures haven’t budged in 18 years, and Oct. 24 would mark a record 10 years since a Category 3-5 hurricane hit the United States.
They face major odds in Paris, where they will likely get a toothless treaty that places no binding emission targets on poor countries — which will keep burning coal and sending atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels ever higher — with no effect on the climate.
• Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.