It’s not surprising to read about the deliberate actions of fossil fuel companies to spread doubt on the direct linkage between carbon emissions and climate change. Much has been written on this, and there is even a movie about it.
But recent disclosures shed further light on the full extent of this conspiracy. The fact is that it’s been going on for decades, and, as some members of Congress suggest, it could actually amount to criminal activity.
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), pointed out in a recent editorial that a federal judge found tobacco companies guilty of racketeering for their deliberate attempts to obscure the truth about the linkage between cigarette smoking and cancer. The playbook for fossil fuel companies in their efforts to postpone climate legislation was much the same, even going so far as to use many of the same PR firms to craft the message.
Now, a new report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, based on materials obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the full extent of this deception, which extends back as far as three decades.
The report reveals that at least one company (Exxon) acknowledged climate change risks in its own supply chain as early as 1981 -- seven years before the issue hit the national stage. A veritable treasure-trove of information, these 85 documents formed the seven climate deception dossiers shown here:
There is a name for people who do this sort of thing: liars. Liars are not good people. Now, the question that really needs to be considered is whether or not these liars committed crimes. I’m not a lawyer, but I am a writer. So, I’ll go to my source, the dictionary, to see what a crime is:
Whether or not they end up going to jail or paying fines, they certainly should, at a minimum, be required to do the following, as UCS suggests:
Image credit: Wes Thomas: Flickr Creative Commons
RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org