Tag Archives: Torcello

Are the climate science deniers criminals?

Our future is at risk. The science is settled, in the main, though there are many details to continue to work out and there are unknowns. But no one doubts that business as usual release of fossil carbon into the atmosphere mainly as the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide spells big trouble for humanity and the planet Earth, including eventual massive sea level rise and highly disruptive changes in the Earth’s climatology that will make a mess of many things including our food supply. Think failed state. Think Syria. Now, think failed planet, Syria over half the globe, the other half merely a mess. That’s what we are heading for.

We know less than we need to about the timing and severity of various impending disasters, but we already see the beginning. Sea level rise and warmer seas has made for some of the most severe tropical storm systems ever seen. That’s a genie we can not put into the bottle. And these storms don’t seem to always confine themselves to the tropics. Extreme cold and extreme heat, extreme precipitation and extreme dryness, floods, and other catastrophic weather related events are happening with increased frequency. Central Europe, Colorado, Calgary, Great Britain. Some of these weather and climate problems are clearly connected to climate change such as those related to extreme heat, increased drying through evaporation, and increase water vapor. Others, such as those caused by changes in the jet stream, are also probably connected to global warming but the climate scientists are still arguing about the details and extent of this, a normal part of the consensus building scientific process. For the most part, though, almost no one is saying “no connection.”

And we can fix this or at least, ameliorate the effects on behalf of those who shall inherit whatever is left of this one Earth we’ve got, when we are done messing with it.


Unless organized climate science denialists, right wing “morans” from the Tea Party, self interested paid-off politicians, and the likes of David and Charles Koch, get their way. Unless they get what they want, which is to interfere with the translation of climate science into science policy. Unless they also get their way by interfering with changes to how we approach and build for clean energy and updated infrastructure.

I once said, and a lot of people (well, bad people, not any good people) got mad at me, that taking away the future of our children and grandchildren was a criminal act. Of course, you know it is. But in saying that, unfortunately, I can only be referring to “criminal act” as a metaphor, or perhaps as wishful thinking. There actually isn’t a law against ruining the planet and ending civilization as we know it, against taking part in the death and misery of countless humans, against carrying out acts of such utterly despicable selfishness and general terror that you will be placed among the ranks of the genocidal once all is said and done, if you get your way. Nope. That’s totally legal.

Or is it? Or, at least, should it be?

What if someone other than me came along with the opinion that “There oughta be a law” or at least, a serious proposal that organized climate science denialism and obstruction against implementation of planet-saving policies and technologies should be considered an act against humanity?

What would happen is this. The very denialists who work so hard to ensure the misery of our grandchildren, for whatever mercenary, psychopathic, demented, or just very badly misguided reason they may have, will instantly spring to life and attack that person. Anthony Watts will sneer and kvetch, and call his minion of eleven or twelve climate science denying winged monkeys (and their myriad sock puppets) to arms. Christopher Monkton will pretend he is someone, pretend he has a functioning brain, pretend to sound smart and legal, and pretend to say pretend threatening things.

Well, that happened.

Lawrence Torcello of Rochester Institute of Technology stepped in it. He called them crooks.

He said, in part,

…critics of the case in L’Aquila are mistaken if they conclude that criminal negligence should never be linked to science misinformation. Consider cases in which science communication is intentionally undermined for political and financial gain. Imagine if in L’Aquila, scientists themselves had made every effort to communicate the risks of living in an earthquake zone. Imagine that they even advocated for a scientifically informed but costly earthquake readiness plan.

If those with a financial or political interest in inaction had funded an organised campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made, then many of us would agree that the financiers of the denialist campaign were criminally responsible for the consequences of that campaign. I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism.

More deaths can already be attributed to climate change than the L’Aquila earthquake and we can be certain that deaths from climate change will continue to rise with global warming. Nonetheless, climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis.

At first I was not sure if I agreed with Professor Torcello about L’Aquila. I think the scientists got thrown under the bus, as it wasn’t mainly them who messed up, it morel likely that it was the administrative officials and politicians. But he’s indicated to me that he saw L’Aquila as an example of the importance of science communication, not as a specific precedent. To be clear, Torcello is asking if the funding of science, in this case, climate science misinformation criminally negligent.

But for the present, that is not an important detail; the point is, yes, you can lie to every one and then they fucking die because of your lies. That is for real. That is your fault if you do that. That makes you some kind of crook, even if at the moment there is not a law against your utterly misanthropic behavior. and that is how I see the hard core climate science denialists.

And, of course, Anthony Watts is whining and Christopher Monkton is Mocking, and the Winged Monkeys are aloft.

They are attacking Professor Torcello by demanding redress from his employers at Rochester. I sent a note to them supporting the good professor. If you are friend and not foe send me the secret handshake and I’ll send you the list of individuals I sent the letter to with their emails, and you can do the same if you want.

Image is from The Lorax, which gives a message some people apparently missed.