Gore's RICO-style Prosecution of Global Warming Skeptics

Al Gore is back in the news, prominently seen in a March 29 press conference led by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, where Schneiderman and his fellow AGs announced the latest effort to use racketeering laws to prosecute ‘climate change deniers.’ Minutes after first thanking Gore for attending and noting how his 2006 movie galvanized the world’s attention about the urgency to act on climate change, Schneiderman spoke of how the group was working to find creative ways to “enforce laws being flouted by the fossil fuel industry and their allies in their short-sighted efforts to put profits above the interests of the American people.”

“We know what’s happening to the planet,” Schneiderman continued. “There is no dispute, but there is confusion, sowed by those with an interest in profiting from the confusion and creating misperceptions in the eyes of the American public.”

Schneiderman allowed Gore to offer a mini variation of his movie talk halfway through the press conference, but Gore didn’t stop there. During the Q&A session at the end, he interjected himself into a particular question directed at the Schneiderman regarding a report from the New York Times which indicated that Exxon, unlike tobacco companies, had put “published extensive research over decades that largely lined up with mainstream climatology”, thus the analogy about deceptions from ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Big Tobacco’ was seemingly invalid.

“I do think the analogy may well hold up rather precisely,” said Gore. “Indeed the evidence indicates that these journalists collected, including the distinguished historian of science at Harvard Naomi Oreskes, who wrote the book The Merchants of Doubt, that they hired several of the very same public relations agents that had perfected this fraudulent and deceitful craft working for the tobacco companies.”

Both the nearly one-hour press conference and Gore’s 96-minute-long movie boil down to just two claims: the science is settled; naysayers are corrupted by fossil fuel funding.

There's no need for the public or journalists to listen to any critics because of claims one and two.

Ironically, the situation is completely reversed on who sows the confusion, and who should face legal action here. A single highly questionable phrase found within Gore’s movie could sink this ‘racketeering investigation effort’ and Al Gore’s entire legacy. Related damaging material showcasing this problem is readily found in publications available to the public.

After spending the first three quarters of his movie setting up the ‘settled science’ premise, Gore then spoke briefly of a survey from Naomi Oreskes (there’s that name again) which supposedly indicated no scientific opposition to the idea of man-caused global warming (her survey turns out to be besieged by methodology problems). Immediately afterward, he equated the famous tobacco company leaked memo “Doubt is our Product” to one supposedly from a fossil fuel industry memo, spelling out its strategy full screen in red letters: “Reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.”

Gore’s companion book for the movie credited “Pulitzer-winning reporter” Ross Gelbspan for discovering the memo.

Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer, and was not employed at a media organization when he claims he discovered the ‘industry corruption’ of skeptic climate scientists. Page 34 of his 1997 book The Heat is On, quotes the strategy and targeting statements allegedly attributed to a Western Fuels Association public relations campaign:

The Information council for the Environment (ICE) was the creation of a group of utility and coal companies, In 1991, using the ICE, the coal industry launched a blatantly misleading campaign on climate change that had been designed by a public relations firm. This public relations firm clearly stated that the aim of the campaign was to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”. Its plan specified that three of the so-called greenhouse skeptics, Robert Balling, Pat Michaels, and S. Fred Singer, should be placed in broadcast appearances, op-ed pages and newspaper interviews.

With all the sophistication of modern marketing techniques, the ICE campaign targeted “older, less-educated men” and “young, low-income women…”

Gelbspan’s 1998 paperback version repeats the two paragraphs nearly identically, but he switched “S. Fred Singer” out for “Sherwood Idso” with no explanation for the swap there or anywhere else. Dr. Singer, an internationally famous atmospheric physicist, was never associated with the PR campaign.

Al Gore’s 1992 book Earth in the Balance quoted the targeting statements on page 360 years before Gelbspan first mentioned them:

…some self-interested cynics are seeking to cloud the underlying issue of the environment… Documents leaked from the National Coal Association to my office reveal… as follows: “People who respond most favorably to such statements are older, less-educated males from larger households, who are not typically active information-seekers…  another possible target is younger, lower-income women…

In the multi-author How Well Do Facts Travel? 2011 book, Naomi Oreskes’ chapter titled “My Facts are Better than Your Facts” featured both the targeting statements and strategy statements, noting how the other related Western Fuels documents were archived at the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) Washington D.C. archives. At the chapter’s end, she credited Anthony Socci for alerting her to the Western Fuels material and said “Scholars wishing to consult these materials should contact the AMS.” On page 141, in reference to an assertion within one of the ICE campaign’s newspaper ads, she detailed Socci’s criticism about specific wording within the ad.

But there are problems with this narrative.

First, the AMS archivist confirmed no such materials are in their archives. Second, Socci was present as a Senate staffer in Al Gore’s April 9, 1992 hearing in which Gore utilized Western Fuels material to suggest Dr. Sherwood Idso’s work was tainted by Western Fuels Association funding.

Last, but not least in the overall situation, Oreskes organized a 2012 workshop titled “Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control,” which may have been a catalyst leading to current efforts advocating the use of racketeering laws to prosecute climate change deniers. Its page 13 stated:

Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at the University of California-San Diego, brought up the example of the Western Fuels Association, an industry-sponsored front group that has run ads containing demonstrably false information. Oreskes noted that she has some of the public relations memos from the group and asked whether a false advertising claim could be brought in such a case.

The summary for this whole situation couldn’t be more simple.

Al Gore has been at the beginning, middle and end of this so-called global warming crisis. In the late 1980s, he was immediately faced with the inconvenient truth of science-based criticisms from skeptic climate scientists, and to this day, neither he nor scientists within the IPCC are open to engaging in scientific debate with skeptic climate scientists. To distract the public from this problem from the start, it appears an accusation was invented that is the same one seen today – say skeptics are paid by ‘Big Coal & Oil’ to manufacture doubt about a settled discussion, and say this mimics what shill experts did for ‘Big Tobacco.’

During this whole time, however, not one shred of evidence has been provided to the public proving skeptic climate scientists were paid to lie. In several prior pieces here at American Thinker and at my GelbspanFiles blog, I’ve detailed how the leaked Western Fuels memos which Gore, Gelbspan, and Oreskes love to quote are not what they portray them to be.

Oil and coal companies and conservative think tank organizations don’t need to be prosecuted for manufacturing doubt about ‘settled global warming science’, those who apparently tried to manufacture doubt about the credibility of skeptic climate scientists are the ones who need to be investigated.

Russell Cook’s blog GelbspanFiles.com is a forensic examination of faults in the corruption accusation against skeptic climate scientists, an outgrowth of his original articles here at American Thinker.  He can be followed on Facebook

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