You are a scientist. You wake up one morning and go:
“Why don’t I write a letter to the US Attorney General asking her to throw fossil fuel companies in jail under the RICO act?
It would be my civic deed for the day”.
No it doesn’t. Climate scientists have a penchant for signing activist letters. But letters pushing legal advice to an Attorney General recommending prosecution of opponents?
So where do these strange ideas come from?
Step forward ‘Climate Accountability Institute’
The Climate Accountability Institute (CAI) is a small front attempting to marry ‘climate concerns’ to environmentalism and tobacco prohibitionist tactics. But ‘small’ is a relative term in the climate activist world.
In 2012 the CAI held a ‘workshop’ in La Jolla California. It was ‘conceived’ by Naomi Oreskes and others, and called ‘Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages: Lessons from Tobacco Control.’ Stanton Glantz, a prominent tobacco control activist scientist was present as were a clutch of lawyers, climate scientists, communication professionals, PR agency heads, bloggers and journalists.
They released a report (pdf):
The workshop was an ‘exploratory, open-ended dialogue’ on the use of ‘lessons from tobacco-related education, laws, and litigation to address climate change.’
The headline conclusion was essentially conspiracy theory. Here it is, verbatim (emphasis mine):
A key breakthrough in the public and legal case for tobacco control came when internal documents came to light showing the tobacco industry had knowingly misled the public. Similar documents may well exist in the vaults of the fossil fuel industry and their trade associations and front groups…
Why do these mythical documents needed to be ‘unearthed’?
While we currently lack a compelling public narrative about climate change in the United States, we may be close to coalescing around one. Furthermore, climate change may loom larger today in the public mind than tobacco did when public health advocates began winning policy victories.
The reader should take a moment to grasp the momentous logic: We know legally ‘incriminating documents’ (their choice of words) ‘may’ exist, because tobacco activists had a breakthrough with such documents. They need to be found in order to make climate change a ‘looming threat’ in the public mind.
Try thinking of a more reverse-engineered form of activism.