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Civil Conspiracy Lawsuits Filed Against Climate Change Deniers

By Linda McClure

Dec 6, 2009

The need for climate legislation is based upon a wide body of scientific evidence that shows global warming is happening now and warns of climactic changes as that warming continues.

Skeptics and some in the fossil fuels industries have joined forces to claim that the climate science is invalid, hoping to decrease public and Congressional support by tainting the foundation for legislation.

In many ways, their disinformation campaign carries similarities to the tactics of the tobacco industry that "misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease," the Union of Concerned Scientists notes in its report Smoke, Mirrors and Hot air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science."

James Hoggan's book Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming further investigates how disinformation campaigns by several groups may be linked to decreasing support by the public according to opinion polls.

British government advisor Robert Watson, an expert in atmospheric science for nearly 30 years, recently described how those disinformation campaigns "clearly put the world at risk of far more adverse effects of climate change."

"Those that have opposed a deal on climate, which would include elements of the fossil fuel industry, have clearly made making a 2C target [limiting the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times] much, much harder, if not impossible," Watson told the Guardian.

Should there be legal accountability when people intentionally mislead the public given the gravity of the harms to people and environment caused by global warming?

Some have answered yes by filing lawsuits seeking to hold deniers legally responsible for a civil conspiracy. The legal theory is that the defendants intentionally presented disinformation on the existence of climate change and its impacts in order to mislead the public and the government to prevent any regulation of greenhouse gases. This deceit prevented or delayed remedies to address global warming impacts occurring today, and those impacts harmed the plaintiffs.

In two recent cases, landowners and residents filed lawsuits that included a claim of climate change civil conspiracy.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Comer v. Murphy Oil, upheld the right of residents and landowners of the Mississippi Gulf coast to proceed with a putative class action against 30 oil and gas companies seeking compensatory and punitive damages based on nuisance, trespass, and negligence.

The plaintiffs alleged that defendants emitted greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming that caused rising sea levels and increased the intensity of Hurricane Katrina, resulting in the destruction of public and private property.

The complaint also alleged that certain defendants knew for many years about the dangers of greenhouse gases, yet disseminated misinformation to paint global warming as theory rather than fact in order to decrease public awareness and divert public policy from the need to restrict emissions.

The conspiracy "delayed and otherwise interfered with individual and government action to address global warming, and consequently contributed to plaintiffs' injuries ...," the complaint states.

Free Speech

This is great to hear, and it's a good reminder that free speech has its limits. If you are using your speech to promote action (or lack of action) that could result in the death of millions, you don't get a free pass. Just like you can't argue that one "race" of people is inferior and should be killed.

Orwell Revisited

It doesn't get much more Fascist than that, does it? Filing a lawsuit because you don't agree with your opponents' politics or science. AGW is so laced and steeped in vitriol that it should be no surprise that the very hysterics of it is enough to raise doubt in people's minds as to it's validity.

Sue Them!

It's great that people are starting to sue these corporations. The results of their actions will be worse than genocide, if they succeed, and the punishments should be equal to the crimes. I don't blame them for what they did before we began to be aware of global warming. I do blame them for deliberately confusing people about the most serious and urgent threat we face. It's obvious they and the people who run them place no value on life and only worship money. Not only should every penny be taken away from them, the people who made these decisions should all be locked up in prison for the rest of their lives. I hope the lawsuits will include the organizations who are paid by the corporations to spread the lies too. It's fine that these corporations and the people running them make such huge amounts of money. It's fine that they spend that money on whatever they want. But they must face the consequences of their actions too.

but there's nothing to hide, right?

Why should those who support the scientific consensus on human-induced global warming be concerned about a few kooks and right-wing whackjobs making some noise? After all, the debate is over, so everyone needs to shut the hell up and take their meds. Who cares about free speech and open scientific inquiry anymore. This is an emergency and we need to get with the program, Al Gore's private jet can't be delayed.

Climate change? Conspiracy lawsuits against deniers?

I don't think anyone can deny there has been some regional warming. The question is how serious is this and what is the cause. Anthropogenic Global Warming has turned into a faith or religion and as with all religions, any evidence that this faith is unfounded is met with extreme resistance. Mankind has devestated this planet and there seems to be a lot of chaos. It's crowded - in a very short period of time (140 years) we have gone from 1 billion people to almost 7 billion people. I believe the emphasis on AGW is a knee-jerk reaction to these facts. Exactly what are we to do when the planet cools a little again as it did during the Little Ice Age a short while ago - release massive amounts of greenhouse gasses to counter the cooling? Isn't it enough that 17,000 children die of hunger everyday or that 1 billion people don't have ready access to clean water? I mean are there not enough very real and indisputable problems we must address ahead of the speculative problem of AGW. Living things have always had to adapt to a changing climate. Let us adapt, be sensible about energy consumption (that means Al Gore not using up as much energy as a dozen average american families) and let us come together to deal with the very real and ongoing problems and suffering that exist all around us right now.

There's nothing speculative

There's nothing speculative about global climate change -- the data is indisputable. There is absolutely no debate among the genuine scientific community about the seriousness of this problem. Thousands of independent scientists agreeing on a peer reviewed report is as absolute as anything in the known universe. It has nothing to do with faith or belief. It is FACT. Denying this fact is an offense to humanity. It's disgusting that people (ignorant people) continue to propagate the myth of uncertainty about global climate change based on unsupported nonsense dispensed by politically motivated right wingers bought and paid for by the oil industry. Deniers shouldn't just be sued, they should be jailed.

The boy who cried AGW

You sound like a crazy facist. The weather changes, duh. It always changes and always has. Why the hate. Didn't you hear the man who first stated that co2 was a seriour green house gas later make a retraction? When you say "genuine scientific community" are you talking about those liars who fudged data to fool you into thinking the sky is falling.

Crazy Fascist?

How many melting glaciers do you have to see?????

INCESSANT DENIALIST TROLLS

Nothing has been proven by stolen e-mails except that the denialists are ready to use Watergate tactics to advance their sorry agenda.

When Nixon's plumbers were caught, everyone knew they were the criminals. And so it is in "ClimateGate." The e-mail thieves, and their accomplices -- denialist trolls in evidence here, Fox News and their media cohorts etc, fossil fuel interests wh will stop at nothing -- are running a smear campaign.

It stinks.

Tiger Woods: The Media's Allegorical Substitute for Climategate

The only conspiracy is by

The only conspiracy is by the warming end of the world alarmists. And that has been proven.

AGW is a scam.

2+2=4

Dear a dood, Since you seem

Dear a dood,

Since you seem to understand mathematics, try peer-reviewed climate science.

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