Jail beckons …

The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this article was agent provocateur, it was a fake written to discredit the thermageddonites. But, folks, there is a Rochester Institute of Technology not far from the shores of Lake Ontario in New York State. It has a web site. Professor Torcello is listed, he exists …

Lawrence Torcello, assistant professor of philosphy at Rochester Institute of Technology, calls for the funders of climate skepticism to face sanctions for criminal negligence.

Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death. When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.

He goes on to discuss the case of the Aquila earthquake in Italy in 2009 after which six Italian scientists and a local defence minister were subsequently sentenced to six years in prison, takes the critics of that case to task and comes up with …

The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.

Can we generalise from this that Professor Torcello places a high value on accuracy in presenting information about important matters? Or should we should we consider the alternative explanation that he has made up his mind and therefore further discussion should be suppressed? Is he on the side of accuracy or censorship?

There is a clue in his paper. One of the references the good professor cites in his support is the Guardian Newspaper. This is an article published just over two years ago based on leaks from an insider revealing that the Heartland Institute was engaged in a concerted campaign, funded by Big Oil interests, aimed at “dissuading teachers from teaching science.” This was a big story for the alarmists, the smoking gun that nailed Big Oil and the Koch brothers.

It subsequently turned out that the anonymous whistle blower was not an insider at all. Enter Peter Gleik who runs a Californian research organisation called the Pacific Institute …

The Pacific Institute’s Integrity of Science Initiative responds to and counters the assault on science and scientific integrity in the public policy arena, especially on issues related to water, climate change, and security.

Integrity however was not high in his attributes when he faked his identity, fraudulently obtained documents from the Heartland Foundation and released those documents to the press. And here’s the good bit, the documents did nothing to incriminate the foundation … but the two page fake memo that was added to them was a ripper.

He was eventually obliged to make an apology in which he acknowledges “a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics” and concludes …

My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.

Please note the words “and prevent this debate“. Just who is trying to prevent debate? And what better way to suppress debate than to throw one side of the debate in jail.

On the other hand we could go back to the title of Professor Torcello’s article, Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?, and if it is we might start to think of suitable punishments for those who misinformed us that …

… snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event, Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” Dr David Viner, CRU, March 2000.

 So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems”, Tim Flannery (Australian Climate Commissioner) 2007.

The entire north polar ice cap will be gone in 5 years” Al Gore, 2008.

50 million climate refugees by 2010. United Nations Environment Programme 2005.

seas could rise 100 metres in a century. Robyn Williams of their ABC, 2007.

to mention just a few.

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