Posted June 23, 2008
Today's Guardian newspaper quotes NASA climate scientist James Hansen calling for the executives of large fossil-fuel companies to be put on trial for crimes against humanity. "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one [of] the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organizations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime," he tells the newspaper.
Crime is an interesting word. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I do believe massive malfeasance is at work. And not particularly at the oil companies. They have a product to sell and the world stupidly keeps buying it.
Where I think the finger should be pointed is at our political leaders, people like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma who tells the Washington Post today that Hansen, Al Gore and everyone's favorite punching bags -- the media -- "have been trumpeting man-made climate doom since the 1980's."
"But Americans are not buying it," Inhofe says, citing the recent failure of climate legislation to reach the 60 votes necessary to end a Senate filibuster. "It's back to the drawing board for Hansen and company as the alleged 'consensus' over man-made climate fears continues to wane and more and more scientists declare their dissent."
Interesting stuff, Senator. Yes, the climate legislation was unable to climb past your obstructionist roadblock although it received more support than ever before.
And perhaps some scientists are coming out against the idea that humankind has warmed the planet and continues to spew increasing pollutants into our atmosphere. If so, they are awful quiet about their challenge. Perhaps they should post their arguments here and let NRDC's real climate experts take them on.
But truthfully, what proves that Senator Inhofe is part of an increasingly isolated cabal is that much of corporate America understands that we cannot continue unabated our polluting ways. The United States Climate Action Partnership includes some of the biggest names in business and the environment coming together to say this issue is real and a solution must be found. The daily newsletter Environmental Leader cites business after business scrambling to take steps to cut carbon pollution.
Is some of it greenwashing? Probably so. Is a good deal of it real? Most certainly.
The First Amendment correctly protects folks like Senator Inhofe from prosecution for their political views. But the Constitution certainly cannot protect Inhofe's future standing in American history. It is there that his behavior is likely to be judged criminal in the broadest sense of the word.
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