Call this blog post a combo ‘editorial’ / ‘backgrounder’ on the overarching inevitable problem the accusers of “industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists” will face. It’s simply a matter of time before any one of the 29 current “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuits finally does go in front of a judge or jury to decide on its merits. This blog post concerns what the deciders need to know about the political accusation angles within these cases. I doubt that the people behind the “growing tide” of ExxonKnew-style / “growing pool” of lawsuits actually have any intention of winning via jury decisions; the objective quite likely is to intimidate the smaller of the defendant companies into thinking if they just cry “uncle” and pay out what they believe is a settlement fee they can somehow afford in order to keep their company alive for the foreseeable future. This was an effective tactic to force the tobacco industry into submission, an inevitable conclusion since tobacco smoke is harmful and Big Tobacco knew it, and the people filing lawsuits against Big Tobacco knew Big Tobacco knew it. Everybody knew it. A person would have to be spectacularly stupid to believe inhaling nothing bad could result from inhaling burning particulates big enough to see.
What the fossil fuel industry knew and what they did is an entirely different and uncomparable situation. Therein lies the problem for the pushers of the “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuits and the core clique of enviro-activists who’ve promulgated the “crooked skeptic climate scientists” accusation for decades, which is one of the two pillars these lawsuits stand on, and on which arguably the entire ‘climate crisis’ issue stands on. The core clique of enviro-activists may sincerely believe with all their heart in the soundness of the other pillar, namely the notion that “the climate science of man-caused global warming is settled.” None of them are climate scientists or have any expertise in the field, but as true believers, it’s fair to say their innocent ignorance about the full science is forgivable. The democratic right speech to free speech includes the right to be incorrect about a matter. The potentially fatal problem for them, and the key to comprehending why the whole tobacco industry settlements tactic will ultimately backfire in epic fashion is what’s seen in the truism statement below, as it pertains to the accusation that ‘fossil fuel executives employed skeptic climate scientist shills who spewed falsehoods in disinformation campaigns just like the tobacco industry did.’
The actual malice standard protects that core democratic speech. It ensures that only those who knowingly or recklessly lie about officials and powerful individuals need to fear liability. It also limits the damages available for unintentional falsehoods about matters of public concern. In doing so, the standard provides provides necessary slack for inadvertent misstatements, which are inevitable in public debate and do not threaten to cut public opinion adrift from reality. But it holds taut for those who intentionally seek to skew public debate by lying.
O’Keefe Media Group founder James O’Keefe brought up this truism in a matter completely unrelated to the climate issue, but what is said there as an overarching statement about hugely influential accusation material is entirely relevant to the climate issue — with particular emphasis on the words “unintentional falsehoods” and “inadvertent misstatements.” The core clique of enviro-activists technically behind all of the “Exxon Knew” lawsuits as suppliers-of documents/information-to-these-lawsuits don’t want these to go to court, because if any one of 29 current cases do end up in court in some form, consideration will have to be made about what the precise label is to attach to these enviro-activists regarding the accusations they hurled at skeptic climate scientists and fossil fuel executives, along with their own highly self-damaging assertions concerning their major roles in this entire matter.
Keep in mind the separation between the pure true believer regurgitaters of the “settled science / “crooked skeptics” accusation, such as ‘news’ reporter Lynne Johnson, or meme illustration creator Rosemary Mosco, or mainstream media reporters in general, and folks whose outright legacy depends on the “crooked skeptics” pillar to remain standing: former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie star/book author / ‘historian’ Naomi Oreskes, ex-Boston Globe reporter / climate alarmist book author Ross Gelbspan, and “Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action” personnel, particularly John Passacantando and Roland C “Kert” Davies.
Let’s examine these folks’ assorted assertions.
Al Gore said:
• The “reposition global warming” leaked memo phrase directive was no different than the Brown & Williamson tobacco company memo “Doubt is our Product,” after spending the first hour and twelve minutes of his 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth” movie to set up the “settled science” premise, and after a segue point referring to Naomi Oreskes Dec 2004 Science magazine “100% science consensus study.”
• In his movie companion book, Gore said Pulitzer winner Ross Gelbspan had discovered the “reposition global warming” memo; part of a memo set that included suggestions for a public relations campaign to have two specific audience targets, which Gelbspan noted in his earliest public appearance about them in December 1995.
• In his 1992 “Earth in the Balance” book, Gore himself quoted the audience targeting goals while essentially attributing them to the National Coal Association.
• In 2004, Gore again labeled Gelbspan as a Pulitzer winner.
• In 2008, Gore, speaking off camera, attributed the “reposition global warming” phrase to Exxon.
It’s understandable that Al Gore might not grasp how the Scientific Method has never operated on consensus opinion to validate any given science conclusion. An innocent mistake of ignorance on his part. But can he convince everyone that he didn’t know the memo set was never implemented anywhere / that Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer / that he didn’t remember having that leaked never-implemented memo set in his hands before Gelbspan ever spoke of them / and that he flat out didn’t remember that his memo set copy was something out of the coal industry? Is all simply forgiven if Gore sheepishly says, “Oopsy, my bad. Didn’t know any of that.”
Naomi Oreskes said:
• The collection of “reposition global warming” memos and other Western Fuels Association documents were archived at the Washington DC offices of the American Meteorological Society … minus any official AMS numbers to find them.
• The official name of the Western Fuels PR campaign was “Informed Citizens for the Environment,” and that evidence of their disinformation campaign was a pair of newspaper advertorials sponsored by the campaign depicting a terrified “Chicken Little” and a “Doomsday Canceled” message.
• She was first alerted to this overall ‘merchants of doubt’ problem by a man who approached her at a Q&A session after her presentation at an obscure conference to say the same person attacking her then-recently published Dec 2004 “100% science consensus study” was someone known to be a doubter of the ozone layer depletion crisis. Oh, wait, “people,” plural, who not only questioned ozone depletion and global warming consensus, and also the harm of cigarette smoking … and the man’s alert to her happened at a German conference.
The AMS Archivist said no such docs were ever archived at AMS, the “reposition global warming” memo set with its alternate ICE name suggestions was unsolicited and never used, the “Chicken Little” and “Doomsday Canceled” advertorials were never published anywhere, and Erik Conway would have to have used time travel to go back five months in time to alert Oreskes to who her future critic(s) were.
So … “Oopsy, my bad. I just assumed the docs I was alerted to all happened under that ‘Informed Citizens’ name and that the unmarked filing cabinets were official AMS archives, and heck, I thought I met Eric Conway after my study came out. Just go with my story about Dr Ben Santer instead, and forget about Conway.”
Ross Gelbspan said:
• He won a Pulitzer, not once, not twice, not three times, but minimally four times.
• He said he was enjoying his retirement when he was somehow alerted to illicitly-funded skeptic climate scientists at a point of time absolutely no earlier than March 1995.
• “We got a copy” of the “reposition global warming” memos … somehow, without every mentioning from whom or who the “we” in his claim covers.
Again, he never won a Pulitzer, while the Ozone Action group claims he obtained the memos together with that group. But why would Dr Justin Lancaster, having at minimum some direct association with Al Gore, say outright that Gelbspan was working on exposing “crooked skeptic climate scientists” a year before Gelbspan himself claimed as the start of his exposé?
So … “Oopsy, my bad. What I meant to say is I worked with a team that won a Pulitzer, and the industry docs I got with John Passacantando sure looked legit, and at this point, probably nobody remembers what the exact date was for things they did in the 1990s.”
John Passacantando said:
• He founded / co-founded Ozone Action in 1992. In 1993. Which focused exclusively on global warming. Which was dedicated to informing society about the destruction of the ozone layer, not the goal of chasing money.
• In a 2004 interview, he said that prior to “starting” an environmental group – meaning Ozone Action – he simply wanted to be “in” the ecological protection movement, period.
• He left Greenpeace at the end of 2008 to “start a consultancy to advise institutional investors on environmental risks and opportunities.”
Dig deep enough into every available account of his Ozone Action story, along with other mentions of the group that don’t include his name, and the question arises on whether he actually founded the group in any form at all. Dig deep enough into his otherwise well-hidden post-Greenpeace work, and the question arises on what exact ‘opportunity advice’ he was giving out, and why that somehow included the New York State Attorney General’s office. Dig deep enough into his post-Greenpeace, well-hidden “Our Next Economy LLC” mystery company, and it appears the multi-millions money certainly chased him, such that he is apparently a money funnel to Kert Davies’ current Climate Investigations Center operations.
So … “Oopsy, my bad. I could have phrased that better, that I began working with Ozone Action in the early 1990s to tell how ozone depletion is part of man-caused global warming, and I’ve meant to disclose more of what Our Next Economy LLC but I’ve been busy, and c’mon man, “institutional” entities include AG offices. Plus, Kert does good work, and the industry docs I got with Ross Gelbspan sure looked legit.”
Which brings us to what Kert Davies said:
• He says the ICE campaign was also known as the “Informed Citizens” campaign, and evidence of its disinformation efforts was the “Chicken Little” ad.
• He all but implies skeptic climate scientist Dr Willie Soon was bribed by Exxon with $1 million+.
So … “Oopsy, my bad. The industry docs I saw while working at Ozone Action looked legit and nobody told me that the million+ going to Harvard-Smithsonian was something Dr Soon was never told about, and nobody told me the Smithsonian took more than half the amount off the top to cover their own overhead costs.”
Really?? If any of these accusers offer anything similar to that, we are supposed to just believe it all? But this doesn’t stop there by any means.
Vic Sher, head of the San Fransisco law firm handling 16 of the current “Exxon Knew” lawsuits had a website page stating outright that the “Chicken Little” advertorial was provided by Kert Davies’ Climate Files site, and further said that the “Informed Council for the Environment” published the ad in the New York Times. No, they didn’t. Oopsy. Kalee Kreider, Al Gore’s longtime spokesperson after working for Greenpeace and Ozone Action, said she helped start up Ozone Action. Oopsy. Not that she cares to share this accomplishment on her LinkedIn resumé, however, or that she ever worked for Ozone Action or Greenpeace at all.
Interesting how so many “oopsies” involve such a closely-tied group of people accusing the fossil fuel industry of colluding with crooked skeptic climate scientists, isn’t it? How many more of these does it take before somebody with major prosecutorial power or prominent public investigative journalism influence says, “Sorry, I’m just not buying that all of those errors are just “unintentional falsehoods and inadvertent misstatements”?
Near as I can tell – personal opinion here, based on the pile of problems I’ve illustrated in all my work here at GelbspanFiles and all the work that led into the formation of this blog – the core clique of accusation promulgators have every appearance in the world of being in an indefensible position when it comes to successfully defending what they’ve accused as being “oopsy,” just unfortunate unintentional, inadvertent falsehood misstatements. It isn’t Big Oil that may be in courtroom fight for their lives, long overdue to face questioning, it’s these enviro-activist accusers.