Category: Scientists

Letter to British PM from climate scientists authored by Bob Ward?

Climate scientists are fond of signing their name to activist letters. Usually, these letters end in some fiasco or the other. The latest, the Guardian has reported, is one written by ‘leading scientists’ to British PM Theresa May asking her to persuade Donald Trump away from climate skepticism. The letter  (alternate link: here) was ‘delivered to Downing Street on Friday,’ the Independent informs somberly, after being signed by ‘100 of the world’s leading climate researchers working in the UK.’

Not unexpectedly, contained within was the usual combination of admonishments, pleas for funding and veiled threats one has come to expect from climate science nowadays, and sadly enough from the science establishment in general. The tone is dismally poor and presumptuous, a familiarity to anyone associated with the climate debate.

Checking the letter’s metadata in Acrobat showed the letter’s author was one ‘WARDRE.’

'WARDRE' - Bob Ward author of letter to Theresa May

That’s right. It is climate activist Bob Ward, ‘Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics’ whose name is listed as the document’s author. Ward lists his email address as ‘’ at his employer’s web profile. I think it is fair to conclude Bob Ward wrote the entire letter, though other conjectures are possible.

What’s more, Ward signed on the letter himself though he is no scientist. That close to a hundred professors and leaders in UK climate science would sign off on such a poor letter can at best mean they did not read its contents. At worst, they actively worked with an activist Ward and are happy to be tarred by his political brush.

How is this all presented, in the media, to the outside world? Here’s Ward himself on his Twitter feed:


More accurately put, it would read ‘Bob Ward urges Theresa May to pressure Trump on global warming.’

In large part, letter campaigns do not befit science. These types of documents seem to represent the views of small cliques in any discipline, the kind that will not do science and instead spend time in activism. Such letters, usually on a politically sensitive topic, then get passed around head to head and people simply sign off to avoid confrontation, keep the peace and be seen as doing the right thing. Their prestige is used to score political points or ride the news cycle.

UPDATE: It appears the letter is set to ‘private’ on the Scribd document hosting platform. If you travel to this page on the Climate Home website and scroll down, it remains available to read.

Alt-science climate activists

The US House Science committee tweeted a link to a James Delingpole article on the drop in atmospheric temperatures of the Na Nina that is underway.

Look at the climate alarmist and intelligentsia response:

Science writer Deborah Blum:

The articulate British scientist Doug McNeall:

PhD scientist Bob Ward:

Former journalist Leo Hickman:

Climate activist ‘Climate Truth’

Climate communicator Michael Mann:

Climate communicator Michael Mann

Climate communicator Things Break:


Climate communicator ‘Climate Truth’

‘Journalist’ Hywel Robers

Anti-e-cig activist John Mashey:

Veteran Climateprogress commenter Lou Grinzo:

Climate communicator Eric Steig:

‘Physicist’ Aatish Bhatia:

That’s right. A veritable stream of tweets feigning outrage and fainting over the name ‘Breitbart’ but not a single one that explains why they are angered.

It’s the flavor of the season: how outraged you manage to be is proof how wrong/evil your opponent is.

In all, I saw one response by biologist Karen James who attempted to come up with some form of reasoning why the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee was wrong:


Unfortunately, with Delingpole’s article becoming ‘heinously misleading,’ there is only emotional ranting and little thinking going on here. The Breitbart article does not say anything about ‘greenhouse gases from human activity causing climate change’ or even ‘something like that.’

All it does is point out how mum the climate establishment has been given the drop in temperatures corresponding to the La Nina. It quotes David Whitehouse and and Myles Allen as sources. What a shocker.

The same establishment makes a deafening racket every time there is an El Nino. In fact, climate activists actively hope for El Nino warm periods so they can hyperventilate about ‘record temperatures’ and advance their policy goals.

Now that Milo Yiannapoulous’ work has been used by propagandists to smear Breitbart as a ‘racist’ platform, it would be doubly delicious were James Delingpole—who has been writing for Breitbart for even longer—to become the de facto source of climate updates. It would be sharp, scientific and right-on-target.

Unlike the dumber-than-a-sack-of-rocks climate activists who can’t find the words or come up a single reason for their outbursts.

The climate cat-and-mouse game and Trump


Climate diplomacy is just war by other means. In fact, climate as diplomacy took birth for this purpose though the pretense at the surface is anything but. The initial momentum of the climate movement was Malthusian – directed at overconsumption of ‘resources’ and ‘overpopulation’ of the earth by the wrong types of human beings in developing countries. Paradoxically however, the movement incorporated globally negotiated treaty-making under the UN as an integral part of its design. This meant inviting the very targets of the Malthusians  to voluntarily subject themselves to the intended curbs—in growing crops, using forests and land, producing and using fossil fuels—essentially in all elements of modern life. This central, unresolved paradox has remained at the heart of the UNFCCC/IPCC process.

When things kicked off (at Rio de Janeiro) in 1992, the only way to entice developing countries to participate in the UNFCCC was via  (a) promises of a temporary reprieve and special permissions to continue using fossil fuels – the so-called principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities,’ and (b) dangling the twin carrots of technology transfer and financial aid to overcome the ravages of climate change. Developing countries like India and China, then utterly secure in their backwardness, were eager to accept these conditions. All one had to do was accept climate consensus formulations (‘the science’) to appear scientific, which was an attractive proposition to the global South. Once accepted the Rio template brought further benefits. They could band together in berating developed countries like the US and the UK for their ‘rampant consumerism,’ ‘capitalism,’ and ‘exploitation of resources.’ They could pretend to ‘care’ for ‘the environment.’ The ball of ’emission reduction’ was not yet in their court which made the moral posturing easier.

To be fair, as poor nations lacked leverage, there were direct participatory pressures on developing countries. If they chose to keep away from the UNFCCC/COP negotiations, they could find themselves subject to mandatory rules made in their absence.  The safety valve in all this was the knowledge that the US was neither about to transfer nuclear technology nor freely part with gobs of cash. The developed countries had their safety valves, too. For a good while, countries like Germany and Russia double-counted incidental large dips in their GDP toward the Kyoto protocol. In the US, the Senate proved to be an insurmountable barrier for climate activist legislation. Ironically, in climate circles, the knowledge/belief that neither India nor China would accept accept verifiable mandatory emission reduction targets has itself served as an inhibitory force. In other words, each party depends on the other to act in their self-interest in order to protect themselves from self-harm in the name of climate!

Developed countries use ‘the science’ to pursue Malthusian dreams of their environmentalist cohorts. Developing countries pretend at believing in the science to play at being the global left. Skepticism at the whole charade drops between the cracks. This has been the climate story over the past 22 years – of pantomime fools dancing around a Gordian knot.

There is, however, great danger even in play-acting in a Malthusian drama. At regular intervals, countries have found themselves paying a real price for the indulgence. The Climate Change Act in the UK is one such example. Written entirely by a college-level activist, the passage of the CCA exposed the weakness of ‘checks and balances’ in the UK and showed how trivial it was to being gamed. The EPA coal rules – the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ of the Obama administration in the US are a second example of calculated harm inflicted by a government on its own citizens. With Copenhagen, the UNFCCC/COP system entered an unstable phase. Here a hastily assembled alliance of countries BASIC fended off a binding agreement.  But the wall of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ was crumbling fast with the growth of the Indian, Brazilian and Chinese economies. Post-Copenhagen, the United States went to work breaking down the BASIC alliance and by 2015 had largely succeeded. Stung by failure, climate activists were under pressure to show the world they could succeed. India did not want to be seen as a lone villain obstructing a treaty. The Paris agreement was born.

With Paris, there were only two safety valves left standing. One, that developed countries would not actually cough up billions of dollars annually for ‘climate adaptation.’ Two, the US Senate or the political system would not ratify and implement an internationally imposed mandate of emissions reduction. It is at this juncture that Donald Trump has been elected. As Benny Peiser points in the Financial Post, if Trump carries out what he has proclaimed, there would be no free cash flowing toward developing countries in the guise of a climate fund. The Obama-era climate regulations could see themselves dismantled completely. These should provide enough excuses for developing countries—if they have the sense to recognize the opportunity—to disengage from economic self-harm and walk away from the precipice.  The abysmal failure of the Indian position at Marrakech should serve as yet another example that moral posturing on the climate brings zero tangible benefits to countries.

With Trump, and open climate skepticism, a global era of countries depending on others to act in self-interest in order to protect their own can finally come to a end.  The chapter of fake collective global climate guilt can be closed.








Astrophysics Alienpsychosis

Imagine a researcher studies the ideas of psychiatric ward patients suffering hallucinations. “It’s staggering, ” he concludes, ” the evidence points to aliens controlling the minds of these people via special radio waves.”

Now picture a group of astronomers studying the brightness of a distant star (called KIC 8462852). “It is astounding, ” they conclude, “the evidence points to aliens controlling the brightness levels of the star via an enormous mega-structure.”

In the world around you today, if a researcher concluded the former, he would be thrown into an asylum himself. If he arrived at the latter conclusion – that aliens were controlling the brightness of a star – he would be paraded in the front pages of newspapers and be given media interviews.

Want to make lots of money, be famous and sell out? Join science and push out your premature conclusions. Just make sure you include a ‘sci-comm’ hook, like aliens.


Climate Brexit in three tweets

Exhibit 1 is from Michael Mann drawing a connection between climate change and Brexit. That’s right, you guessed it: Brexit was caused by climate change


In reality, ‘climate change’ is a news headline parasite. Whatever issue is making headlines is either a cause of climate change or is caused by it. The rule is far simpler, easily remembered, and probably true.

Exhibit 2 is from Gavin Schmidt drawing a parallel between Brexit supporters and vaccine-averse parents.


Anyone who has a different opinion than Schmidt is an idiot, an anti-vaxxer, ‘racist’ or a Holocaust denier. Even if they constitute >51% of the voting British public.

Exhibit 3 is from James Annan, according to whom the Brexit vote must simply be thrown away.


That’s right. The final outcome of a referendum, with only two possible results as outcomes, happens to be something that needs to be rejected. Why did they even hold the referendum in the first place? 

[minor edits]

Gavin Schmidt: Brexit would lead to more than street killings of MPs

Yesterday British MP Jo Cox was killed by an attacker while going about meeting people in her constituency. The shocking incident set off a train of thoughts in Gavin Schmidt, who is from Britain.

A sudden crisis nearly always brings out hidden currents, which may have otherwise never surfaced. In his string of tweets Schmidt appears to blame ‘Brexit’ for the killing. His tweets followed the incident so closely in time there was no reliable information on motive.

The only possibility, then, is Schmidt was influenced by early reports that said the killer shouted “Britain first!” or the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee who wrote a long article squarely laying the blame for the murder at Brexit’s feet.

Schmidt pulls the trick climate activists have been resorting to, for decades:

schmidt copy

This is an incredible giveaway, isn’t it? Here we have an activist climate scientist, in the throes of a heated crisis, capitalizing on an event to attribute blame for murder on his political opponents, and going beyond, that if his side is defeated — in a fair election no less — more such incidents would occur.

It is speculation, wrapped in plausible deniability, capped off with a threat. How does he know the incident had anything to do with ‘Leave’?

Rremember, reliable information available on the killer’s motive was next-to-none at the time he wrote this. Yet Gavin Schmidt was quick off the bat.

Why wouldn’t I think he does the same with climate, and weather? ‘While no single weather event can be attributed to anthropogenic global warming, more such disasters would occur in a climate-changed world’ — how many times have we heard this from activists and scientists alike?

It is a reflexive exploitation of a crisis – you ascribe blame on your target, and while you cannot be fully sure it was what caused it, you nevertheless proceed to forecast more of the same, investing the threat with a cloak of probabilism.

Note: I wrote this originally on Medium. Only slightly modified here.

The US Govt #Knew the dangers of global warming. Yet it funded John Christy?

The US government has known about the dangers of global warming since the first IPCC report.

Yet it has funded the research of scientist John Christy.

In collusion with Roy Spencer, another notorious scientist

Christy is a notorious ‘pro-fossil fuel and anti-scientific consensus’ ‘climate misinformer’ . With continued support, Christy has performed science that casts doubt on global warming.

Christy casts doubt on the tropospheric hot spot, a proven feature of climate models

He even maintains a satellite temperature record that shows no global warming for the past 18 years.

Climate scientists have said he is ‘providing legitimacy to those who refuse’ to accept global warming.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) knew this. Yet they funded his work, right up to 2014.

The DOE must be investigated by the DOJ for racketeering.

CSIRO in tears

There has been a huge uproar in CSIRO which is set to shed scientist jobs following a restructuring by its boss Larry Marshall, who was brought in specifically to effect change.

The scientists are upset because ‘they are passionate about what they do’ and some of them have ‘spent 20 or 30 years working in a particular area’ and ‘that’s what gets them out of bed in the morning’.

If they lose their jobs all this would be … gone.

For a profession engaged in the radical transformation of the entire world, these notions seem hypocritical and peculiarly sentimental. Attached to their jobs, livelihoods, fulfilling professions, and a sense of purpose in life… how quaint.

After all, these are things climate scientists, indirectly, worked day in and out to eliminate for thousands upon thousands of people everywhere.

If we want to cut carbon we need to eliminate waste and redundancy. Climate science is settled. Who is redundant once ‘the science’ is settled?



RICO-teering: How climate activists ‘knew’ they were going to pin the blame on Exxon

Picture this.

You are a scientist. You wake up one morning and go:

“Why don’t I write a letter to the US Attorney General asking her to throw fossil fuel companies in jail under the RICO act?

It would be my civic deed for the day”.

Sounds plausible?

No it doesn’t. Climate scientists have a penchant for signing activist letters. But letters pushing legal advice to an Attorney General recommending prosecution of opponents?

So where do these strange ideas come from?

Step forward ‘Climate Accountability Institute’

The Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) is a small front attempting to marry ‘climate concerns’ to environmentalism and tobacco prohibitionist tactics. But ‘small’ is a relative term in the climate activist world.

In 2012 the CAI held a ‘workshop’ in La Jolla California. It was ‘conceived’ by Naomi Oreskes and others, and called ‘Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control.’ Stanton Glantz, a prominent tobacco control activist scientist was present as were a clutch of lawyers, climate scientists, communication professionals, PR agency heads, bloggers and journalists.

They released a report (pdf):

CAI report

The workshop was an ‘exploratory, open-ended dialogue’ on the use of  ‘lessons from tobacco-related education, laws, and litigation to address climate change.’

The headline conclusion was essentially conspiracy theory. Here it is, verbatim (emphasis mine):

A key breakthrough in the public and legal case for tobacco control came when internal documents came to light showing the tobacco industry had knowingly misled the public. Similar documents may well exist in the vaults of the fossil fuel industry and their trade associations and front groups…

Why do these mythical documents needed to be ‘unearthed’?

While we currently lack a compelling public narrative about climate change in the United States, we may be close to coalescing around one. Furthermore, climate change may loom larger today in the public mind than tobacco did when public health advocates began winning policy victories.

The reader should take a moment to grasp the momentous logic: We know legally ‘incriminating documents’ (their choice of words) ‘may’ exist, because tobacco activists had a breakthrough with such documents. They need to be found in order to make climate change a ‘looming threat’ in the public mind. 

Try thinking of a more reverse-engineered form of activism.

The first chapter in the report is ‘Lessons from Tobacco Control’. It is mainly one section called ‘The Importance of Documents in Tobacco Litigation’

importance tobacco

We learn next to nothing about these supposed ‘documents’ from the report. After all, they haven’t been released or even found.

But ‘the documents’ were very valuable:

says ‘one of the most important lessons to emerge from the history of tobacco litigation’ was the ‘value of bringing internal industry documents to light’.

There was little doubt about their existence:

… many participants suggested that incriminating documents may exist that demonstrate collusion among the major fossil fuel companies …

Since they were so sure they exist, careful plotting was needed on companies whose vaults to raid

He [Glantz] stressed the need to think carefully about which companies and which trade groups might have documents that could be especially useful.

Stanton Glantz was a vocal workshop participant:exciting

Glantz was so excited he proposed using the tobacco archives platform at the University of California San Francisco for climate documents (which were yet to be found)

Because the Legacy Collection’s software and infrastructure is already in place, Glantz suggested it could be a possible home for a parallel collection of documents from the fossil fuel industry pertaining to climate change.

In what mode were the documents to be used?


Most importantly, the release of these documents meant that charges of conspiracy or racketeering could become a crucial component of tobacco litigation

Having firmly established that documents convenient to their strategy existed, the delegates moved on to discussing how to obtain them


The answer was once again clear: ‘lawsuits’. It was not just lawsuits, it was ‘Congressional hearings’, ‘sympathetic state attorney generals’ and ‘false advertising claims’.

State attorneys general can also subpoena documents, raising the possibility that a single sympathetic state attorney general might have substantial success in bringing key internal documents to light

Oreskes had a bunch of advertisements with her:

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.

Even libel suits were deemed useful:

Roberta Walburn noted that libel suits can also serve to obtain documents that might shed light on industry tactics.

Once the documents were in the bag, a story needed to be spun. :

In lawsuits targeting carbon producers, lawyers at the workshop agreed, plaintiffs need

to make evidence of a conspiracy a prominent part of their case.

Now you know where the line on how ‘fossil fuel companies ‘knew’ they were doing wrong but yet did it’ comes from. The cries of ‘it’s a conspiracy!’ are planned and pre-meditated, on lawyers’ advice.

This is where RICO came in:

Richard Ayres, an experienced environmental attorney, suggested that the RICO Act, which had been used effectively against the tobacco industry, could similarly be used to bring a lawsuit against carbon producers.

Richard Ayres is no slouch. A prominent environmental lawyer, he is co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Ayres knew starting lawsuits against productive companies wouldn’t look good. They needed to be spun:

It has to be something positive

How? By dressing it up as injury ‘compensation’

Even if your ultimate goal might be to shut down a company, you still might be wise to start out by asking for compensation for injured parties.”

The suggestions appeared to grow outlandish at every turn. Richard Heede, one of CAI’s members, had come up with a system for blaming individual companies:

Heede is working to derive the proportion of the planet’s atmospheric carbon load that is traceable to the fossil fuels produced and marketed by each of these companies

Heede’s bizarre formulas, we learn, were received ‘positively’ by ‘most of the workshop’s participants’. One UCS participant felt that ‘it could potentially be useful as part of a coordinated campaign to identify key climate “wrongdoers.” Another felt it was useful in blaming faceless corporate entities instead of countries thereby bypassing provoking patriotic impulses in international negotiations.

Heede’s work was funded by Greenpeace. Of note, Greenpeace counsel Jasper Teulings was present at the meeting.

An inspired Oreskes then appears to have proposed blaming sea level rise on corporations:

Picking up on this notion, Naomi Oreskes suggested that some portion of sea level rise could be attributed to the emissions caused by a single carbon-producing company

The oil company Exxon made its appearance in her example:

She suggested, “You might be able to say, ‘Here’s Exxon’s contribution to what’s happening to Key West or Venice.’”

This was a strategy Glantz liked:

…Stanton Glantz expressed some enthusiasm about such a strategy, based on his experience with tobacco litigation. As he put it, “I would be surprised if the industry chose to attack the calculation that one foot of flooding in Key West could be attributed to ExxonMobil.

The conspiratorial tide did not recede. Former computer scientist John Mashey claimed collusion between ‘climate change deniers’ and fossil fuel companies:

[Mashey] presented a brief overview of some of his research, which traces funding, personnel, and messaging connections between roughly 600 individuals …

The penultimate section in the report is on how delegates planned to win ‘public opinion’. Even with RICO, some felt it was ‘not easy’ (‘RICO is not easy. It is certainly not a sure win’ – Ayres) and others were wary of drawing the attention of “hostile legislators who might seek to undermine them”.

With public opinion, the delegates were clearly divided. PR mavens, lawyers and activists wanted to cry fraud, paint up villains and create outrage:

To mobilize, people often need to be outraged.

Daniel Yankelovich a ‘public opinion researcher’ involved in ‘citizen education’ appears to have balked at the ‘sue, sue, sue’ chanting. Court cases are useful only after the public had been won over, he said.


It is not clear he grasped the activists and lawyers aimed for the same with a spectacular legal victory or headlines generated by court cases and bypass the whole issue of ‘citizen education’ .

The workshop ended and there was ‘agreement’. ‘Documents’ needed to be obtained. Legal action was needed both for ‘wresting potentially useful internal documents’ and ‘maintaining pressure on the industry’.

A consensus had emerged

… an emerging consensus on a strategy that incorporates legal action with a narrative that creates public outrage.

The participants, we learn

…made commitments to try to coordinate future efforts, continue discussing strategies for gaining access to internal documents from the fossil fuel industry and its affiliated climate denial network…


Photo (c) Brenda Ekwurzel, from the report


Why is the report important? Because climate activists have done everything the delegates said they wanted done, in the report.

Everyone from climate skeptics like Roy Spencer, columnists like Holman Jenkins Jr and even a consensusist like William Connolley has been left scratching their head. However, from RICO to ‘Exxon knew’ — the twin defibrillator paddles in use to reanimate a moribund climate Frankenstein — the present actions of climate activists have been none but the pre-meditated ones presented in the report.

These include the latest letter from US Senators to Exxon, the conspiratorial ‘Exxon Knew’ campaign with the portrayal of old Exxon reports by InsideClimateNews as ‘internal documents’, the RICO letter from scientists and much more. Particularly, with the pathetic ‘journalism’ of InsideClimateNews it is almost as if climate activists have willed these ‘documents’ into existence – just as they were advised.

The CAI are free to plot the downfall of their opponents. But it is somewhat of a surprise to see the entirety of their ideas to be picked up and translated into action by the intellectually bankrupt climate activist movement.

Klinger and the RICO debacle

Arrested for eating all the donuts

Climate skeptic arrested for eating all donuts (j/k click on link for full story)

To get a grip on the Jagadish Shukla Barbara Streisand Own-goal Backfire Effect, you should start with Paul Matthews’ summary. Briefly, a bunch of scientists headed by Shukla decided to jump on the climate-tobacco bandwagon with a letter (to none less the American president) seeking persecution of ‘corporations and other organizations’ under the US RICO Act. The bunch then hastily fled the field, taking the letter down, when it was shown Shukla’s own various organizations were less than squeaky clean with federal funding.

But Shukla’s colleague Barry Klinger still hangs on at the scene of the crime so to speak, as he pens thoughts on ‘why RICO’ and his ‘ambivalence’ about the letter (which he fully signed).

These show the contradictory mish-mash that climate scientists seem to pass off as their understanding of the climate debate. To a fault, none of it seems to extend beyond the latest New York Times or Washington Post article and faithfully incorporates every trope and cliché sold by climate activists and PR hacks.

The first underlying mythical assumption of Klinger et al is a common one: the work of climate scientists greatly threatens the fossil fuel industry, which is scared of them. Fossil fuel companies provide a convenient, cartoonish ‘evil corporation‘ target for climate activists, and those in climate science with a world-justifying fuzzy feeling from imagining themselves ranged against powerful, unbeatable opponents.

In sociologic terms, fossil fuel companies are the folk-devil. But beyond this, there is little substance to the fantasy. Fossil fuel companies and their products are tightly interwoven with the fabric of modern life. Writing bad things about them is no more a ‘threat’ to them than cataloguing the evils of water (drowning, sweating) is a threat to the local water board. At best you make what they sell expensive. Forcibly making coal more expensive hurts consumers of coal power more than it does coal companies.

Klinger is all innocent about the second point in the RICO letter: We didn’t want to shut down speech, he says, only bring a few ‘giant corporations’ to court for fraud. Even there he admits the ‘standard for finding fraud is quite high’, is not sure whether a case would clear the bar, all while hoping such a case would be ‘a relatively limited affair’. Furthermore, after signing the letter, Klinger is suddenly concerned that there might be ‘squelching’ of  ‘the free speech of scientists’ themselves.

As Paul Matthews notes, with this degree of confusion it is evident Klinger should not have signed the letter at all.

The tobacco master settlement agreement and the course of actions that led to it serve as an inspiration and a template to the climate movement. In anticapitalist discourse, advertising creates unnatural demand for nonessential goods (like the shiny Yellow Hummers whose sole purpose is to consume more of the oil industry products). When fighting against it, an activist can only rail against greed, consumerism and ‘consumption’ (and look foolish). In puritannical abolitionist discourse, ‘addiction’ serves in the same role. But ‘addiction’ has a special edge—you can ignore the buyer (he’s helpless, ‘addicted’) and go after the dealer, in a legal setting.

Second is the power of the ‘internal documents’. Tobacco executives appeared before the US Senate to declare openly they did not think nicotine was addictive. Internal tobacco company memos and documents were later used to show that executives ‘knew’ about the addicting properties of tobacco. This was one of the reasons behind the abolitionists’ ‘they knew!’ success.

Climate activists presently attempt to follow both templates: the world is ‘addicted’ to fossil fuel – meaning not that it wants, desires or craves oil (which it does) but that it is not responsible for its state. Who are responsible? Companies that sell these products. As for the ‘secret internal documents’, a couple of newly minted ‘science journalists’ from the Tom Levenson school of science journalism have attempted to establish Exxon ‘knew’ the dangers of CO2 but chose to keep mum about it, using a tranche of old typewritten documents.

For climate activist zealots, it is immaterial that the square peg of CO2 does not fit in the round hole of tobacco. Any new rhetorical toy is a welcome addition for the exhausted, intellectually threadbare lot of arguments so jam it in they will. All the better if the toy has a proven track record of ‘success’ in a morality play.

But what about climate scientists themselves? They should see through that people use oil and coal products not from ‘addiction’ but because they are indispensible to normal daily life. The type and nature of their benefits are unlike tobacco’s. What about the absurd argument that Exxon ‘knew’ how bad climate change would in 1977? One hates to admit it but yes, Wikipedia’s William Connelley is right—Exxon knew as much as anyone else about the climate and what they ‘knew’ internally is what they declared externally. There is no ‘gotcha’.

Nor can there be one either. The very question of what is ‘known’ vis a vis anthropogenic climate change, i.e, set beyond reasonable doubt, remains in contest to date. What can said to be known when the IPCC has yet to say what it truly ‘knows’ with any rigor beyond appeals to ‘consensus’ and ‘expert judgment’?

Klinger himself admits to the latter. He lays out, though not explicitly, how the case for the consensus is riddled with holes. To prove he’s no alarmist, he points out he and his boss Shukla wrote papers pointing out the contribution of natural factors in 20th century climate change. Klinger says the paper is an example of their scientific equanimity. It is absurd to think he and Shukla should be considered unbiased for publishing such papers whereas Exxon should be thrown in jail were they to have referenced it.

Though Klinger inadvertently admits several points and caveats he refuses to cave in fully. What he does insist is being allowed to score points against ‘corporations’ by bringing civil suits against them, even if only briefly and futilely, simply because they just deserve their day in court. This is extrarordinarily political, activist, and short-sighted. Surely this sort of bottled-up political yearning and frustation in scientists is … dangerous?

However, it doesn’t end there. In a last gasp, as he realises the turn the letter his signed has taken Klinger argues his critics, being the advocates for free speech that they are, ought not restrict his freedom to shut down his critics from speaking freely. A fitting colophon to the RICO debacle indeed.