Saturday, October 30, 2010

Funding climate change denial a crime against humanity?

So asks Donald Brown, a Penn State Environmental Law professor:

...Although it may be reasonable to be somewhat skeptical about climate change models, some corporate sponsored participants in the climate change disinformation campaign have been spreading deeply misleading distortions about the science of climate change. These untruths are not based upon reasonable skepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science. These claims have included assertions that that the science of climate change that is the foundation for calls to action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been completely "debunked" and that there is no evidence of human causation of recent observed warming. Reasonable skepticism cannot make these claims or others frequently being made by the well-financed climate change disinformation campaign...

...that the oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates who support actions to reduce the threat of climate change. It would be one thing for an American corporation to act irresponsibly in a way that leads to harm to Americans, but because of climate change's global scope, American corporation's have been involved in behavior that likely will harm tens of millions of people around the world. Clearly this is a new type of crime against humanity. Skepticism in science is not bad, but skeptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature. The need for responsible skepticism is particularly urgent if misinformation from skeptics could lead to great harm. For this reason, this disinformation campaign being funded by some American corporations is some kind of new crime against humanity.
III. Conclusion
The international community does not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity.

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