Reposition Graduate Degrees as Theory rather than Fact — the Climate Homicide Litigation version

In David Arkush’s March 10, 2024 The New Republic article “The Case for Prosecuting Fossil Fuel Companies for Homicide,” he stated,

Fossil fuel companies have long understood—with shocking accuracy—that their fossil fuel products would cause, in their own words, “globally catastrophic” climate change. Instead of shifting their business model or at least alerting the public to this threat, the companies concealed what they knew and executed a multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign to spread doubt about climate science.

I’ve covered ‘scholarly homicide paper’ article author Arkush twice before, here and here, concerning his one-trick pony sources for his accusation. His paper should be yanked from publication due to being devoid of evidence proving fossil fuel company executives committed climate homicide by carrying out disinformation campaigns. No different – I suggested here – than how Masters / PhD degrees should be yanked when they are devoid of the same basic evidence for the same basic accusation. Arkush is back again, and this time he inadvertently handed one more major gift on a silver platter to congressional investigators and/or the law firms representing the defendants in the “ExxonKnew” lawsuits.

Notice that I red-highlighted the clickable link word “concealed” in Arhush’s article. Where does his link lead to? Leaked industry documents irrefutably revealing fossil fuel execs’ openly admitting fault while planning? A website purported to contain such devastating documents?


His link goes to a 300+ page PhD thesis submitted “In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.” Is it John Cook’s Doctor of Philosophy thesis in which Cook (no relation to me) demonstrated his enslavement to Naomi Oreskes and, by default, her own enslavement to worthless, never-implemented ‘leaked industry memos?’


Arkush’s link goes to Ben Franta’s August 2022 Doctor of Philosophy thesis: “Big Carbon’s Strategic Response to Global Warming, 1950-2020.” Or, emphasizing the determiner word I often place before key people’s names, he’s that Ben Franta, the guy also having a tag category here besides Arkush at GelbspanFiles. FYI, who else brought up Franta’s PhD thesis almost six weeks before David Arkush did? Desmogblog, back on Jan 30. Desmog being the place co-founded (as told starting 8 seconds into this audio interview) by Ross Gelbspan. The Desmog piece itself being written by Climate Investigations Center Research Fellow Rebecca John – yes, that CIC, headed by that Kert Davies, (with his recurring “document cloud” problem in the “ExxonKnew” lawsuits). Davies traces all the way back to the old forgotten Ozone Action group in the late 1990s which claimed a particular set of ‘leaked industry memos (obtained by them and Ross Gelbspan), along with a “Chicken Little” advertorial, was all the proof anyone needed about industry-led disinformation campaigns. The same never-published “Chicken Little” advertorial Kert Davies supplies to Sher Edling, the law firm handling 18 of the current “ExxonKnew” lawsuits, at which Naomi Oreskes is on retainer.

See the pattern forming here?

And that’s before we even get started with a look inside Dr Franta’s Philosophy PhD thesis, “Big Carbon’s strategic response to global warming, 1950-2020.”

Dr Franta can’t even get beyond two words in this thesis title without having the appearance of putting out deceptive disinformation. Carbon = soot = unburned fuel pollution. Everybody on the Al Gore / IPCC side of the issue declares carbon dioxide (CO2) to be the main driver of catastrophic man-caused global warming. CO2 is an odorless, colorless trace gas in the atmosphere, an essential plant nutrient; commercial greenhouse growers use CO2 generators to make their flowers, shrubs, and tree saplings to grow bigger, faster, stronger. “Big Carbon” is meant to portray the fossil fuel industry as evil promoters of smokey black killer pollution, an intellectually dishonest portrayal which Franta’s Degree supervisor / Thesis advisor Robert Proctor should have rejected at first sight as a disingenuous, deceptive portrayal.

Except he is that Robert Proctor, the sizable problem for Franta I described in my dissection of PBS Frontline’s “The Power of Big Oil,” the television documentary in which Franta had a supporting actor role that even included a dramatic little setup scene of him walking into a public library.

Meanwhile, how many degrees is Dr Franta separated from the late namesake of my GelbspanFiles blog concerning the notion that the fossil fuel industry employed skeptic climate scientist ‘shills’? Franta can’t even go farther than his print page 3 in his 300 page+ thesis without first mentioning Naomi Oreskes as he segues into saying his work builds on hers, and by the way, Ross Gelbspan and Desmogblog’s James Hoggan were earlier pioneers.

No ‘building’ happens at all here, Dr Franta’s claim is what I term a “citation cascade,” I have a particular tag category dedicated to mentions of where it occurs in accusations about “crooked skeptic climate scientists” and how the tactic is little more than an attempt to bolster a fatally weak accusation into seeming to be corroborated by independent sources. James Hoggan owes his second career to Ross Gelbspan, and his book cites Naomi Oreskes for the – again – never-implementedreposition global warming” leaked memos; Oreskes cites Gelbspan’s 2004 “Boiling Point” book for them. Gelbspan cites his 1998 paperback book (… not his 1997 hardcover, with its massive name accusation substitution problem).

Dr Franta only needed one citation source here, Gelbspan’s 1997 book. No matter where you go in any given repetition of the ‘industry disinformation campaigns’ narratives, there you are. All roads lead to Gelbspan.

I’m not exaggerating on how the tiny mob of accusers are interconnected in this citation cascade manner. Just one page later, 4 continuing on to page 5, Dr Franta claims “…The body of recent work examining the fossil fuel industry’s malfeasance is rich and includes …”

Right. Let’s start from the bottom of his name list there:

• BBC’s Big Oil v the World / PBS Frontline’s The Power of Big Oil — the BBC program was literally a renamed repeat in the UK of the American Frontline program, replete with massive faults, ranging from the back-to-back appearances of Kert Davies and his former boss John Passacantando, to the strange omission of Naomi Oreskes from the program despite promotions of her in it.

• Paramount Plus’s Black Gold — starring Kert Davies and featuring Franta. Davies’ Facebook page features a photo of his studio appearance for program as a header photo at his Facebook page to this day, and promoted it like there was no tomorrow when it came out.

• Michael Mann’s The New Climate War book — that Dr Mann, whose page 27 in the book Franta cites falsely accuses the late skeptic climate scientist Dr S Fred Singer of industry-paid corruption … and who does Dr Mann cite for his evidence? Ross Gelbspan and James Hoggan.

• Robert Brulle — the “skeptic-trashing sociologist” who is clearly enamored with Ross Gelbspan’s narratives, and who is a participant (with other key people) in Naomi Oreskes’ assortment of “Friends of the Court” briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs in several “ExxonKnew” lawsuits … where Oreskes is enslaved to the “reposition global warming” memos and the worthless API “victory will be achieved” memos.

• Melissa Aronczyk — I covered that new-name-to-me near the end of my July 30, 2022 blog post in connection to the producer for the above noted BBC / Frontline hit pieces, Jane McMullen. Aronczyk is quite likely one more in the weak link chain leading to the main promulgators of the “crooked skeptic scientists” accusation. Meanwhile, I’d never heard of Franta’s citation name of “Maria Espinoza,” but it turns out she’s the co-author with Melissa Aronczyk for their book, “A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism.” Who does that pair name as one of their citation sources? Ross Gelbspan.

• Naomi Oreskes — the person with the iceberg-sized problems that could sink the entire “crooked skeptic scientists” accusation.

• Geoffrey Supran — that Supran. Expert that he claims to be on ‘industry disinformation campaigns,’ the original documents his ‘research lab’ has plus who he obtained them from is not likely something he’s eager to share, thus would they’d have to be forced out of him via subpoenas. As I suggested in my January 18, 2023 blog post about him, the man is not much more than another especially huge weak link problem for Naomi Oreskes and his colleagues and friends.

• Amy Westervelt — yeahthat Westervelt (with her “Rigged” crew). “Good friend and colleague” of Naomi Oreskes … who just coincidentally tags along with lawyers who launch ExxonKnew lawsuits.

• Inside Climate News’ “Exxon: The Road Not Taken” — a.k.a. ‘ExxonKnew as far back as the 1970s that burning fossil fuels caused or will cause runaway global warming.’ Except in the face of all the reports (throw one more on the pile) about the bleak prospects of runaway cooling cause by human activity, they actually knew no such thing. Who all but admitted to being a curator of the ‘ExxonKnew’ documents? Kert Davies.

• Last but not least, the Center for International Environmental Law’s Smoke and Fumes report — Carroll Muffet’s report. That Muffet. Whose report thanked Davies and Oreskes for their input. Tag category for him here, too.

That’s essentially a Who’s Who of the weak links people in the “crooked skeptics” accusation who’d probably gladly plead states’ evidence when it comes rolling on their bosses just to save their own skins if they found themselves in deep investigation trouble.

See what the fatal problem in this thesis is, though? When it operates out of the gate on a false premise preconceived conclusion, all that follows within it is worthless. The philosophy doctor can philosophize all he wants about Exxon knowing of global warming, but how many instances is he omitting about Exxon not having any certainty what the climate was doing?

But in proceeding as he does, his position is akin to accusing someone of unspeakable animal cruelty, and then writing a whole paper on issues surrounding the topic, where the accused is said to know that such cruelty is bad but covered it up in campaigns that – in reality – actually spoke of simply of basic common sense control of domesticated animals.

Even worse outside of that, any suggestion to charge anyone with ‘climate homicide,’ where the idea is that “companies concealed what they knew and executed a multimillion-dollar disinformation campaign” based on a thesis which starts out this faulty of is beyond reckless. It practically invites unstable people to take the matter into their own hands.

There is an acute irony, however, with Dr Franta’s thesis concerning how every road leads to Ross Gelbspan’s false accusation — the absolute best argument enviro-activists have in their arsenal to accuse the fossil fuel industry of running disinformation campaigns in a conspiracy to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.” He inexplicably never mentions those memos.

He does bring up ye olde “victory will be achieved” memos deep into his thesis. Who’s his source? You have to go back 4 pages through all of his “Id.” footnotes before you arrive at the originating footnote: Desmogblog’s “online” page.

The same lousy scan 9 pages are still online at the DocumentCloud site from the time when Kert Davies uploaded them when he worked at Greenpeace. The identical scans. The man features that memo set to this very day as the header photo of his Climate Investigations Center Twitter (known as “X” now) account.

What explains Dr Franta’s need for a middleman of Desmogblog?

Credit ‘climate homicide’ writer David Arkush for inadvertently inviting congressional investigators and attorneys in the law firms representing defendants in the “ExxonKnew” lawsuits to dive deeper into the hugely vulnerable subordinate individuals among the small clique of enviro-activists who promulgate the “industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists” accusation. Fault “Dr” Franta for having no imagination other than to cite dubious sources for that accusation just like everyone else.