I think climate change denial fits entirely within the category of criminal conspiracy and the RICO laws could be applied.
Look at its roots.
Within two months of its publication, Philip Morris, the world's biggest tobacco firm, had devised a strategy for dealing with the passive-smoking report. In February 1993 Ellen Merlo, its senior vice-president of corporate affairs, sent a letter to William I Campbell, Philip Morris's chief executive officer and president, explaining her intentions: "Our overriding objective is to discredit the EPA report ... Concurrently, it is our objective to prevent states and cities, as well as businesses, from passive-smoking bans."
So the fight against a ban on passive smoking had to be associated with other people and other issues. Philip Morris, APCO said, needed to create the impression of a "grassroots" movement - one that had been formed spontaneously by concerned citizens to fight "overregulation". It should portray the danger of tobacco smoke as just one "unfounded fear" among others, such as concerns about pesticides and cellphones. APCO proposed to set up "a national coalition intended to educate the media, public officials and the public about the dangers of 'junk science'. Coalition will address credibility of government's scientific studies, risk-assessment techniques and misuse of tax dollars ... Upon formation of Coalition, key leaders will begin media outreach, eg editorial board tours, opinion articles, and brief elected officials in selected states."
There are clear similarities between the language used and the approaches adopted by Philip Morris and by the organisations funded by Exxon. The two lobbies use the same terms, which appear to have been invented by Philip Morris's consultants. "Junk science" meant peer-reviewed studies showing that smoking was linked to cancer and other diseases. "Sound science" meant studies sponsored by the tobacco industry suggesting that the link was inconclusive. Both lobbies recognised that their best chance of avoiding regulation was to challenge the scientific consensus. As a memo from the tobacco company Brown and Williamson noted, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy." Both industries also sought to distance themselves from their own campaigns, creating the impression that they were spontaneous movements of professionals or ordinary citizens: the "grassroots".
So the same language and methodology developed by the tobacco lobby to protect market share at the huge expense of the public good was adopted by the fossil fuel lobby to do exactly the same thing.
And some of the same figures were there at the start, this includes Steve Milloy, Fred Seitz and Fred Singer.
So a massive campaign to deny the public access to crucial information essential to our collective welfare has been going on for decades.
Mainstream science has recognized this and asked those involved to stop.
Britain's leading scientists have challenged the US oil company ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change.
In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain's premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".
Instead of stopping funding this highly destructive disinformation campaign the fossil fuel lobby has done what any criminal organization would do and is now effectively laundering millions of dollars to be used in this industry created and controlled disinformation campaign.
The largest, most-consistent money fueling the climate denial movement are a number of well-funded conservative foundations built with so-called "dark money," or concealed donations, according to an analysis released Friday afternoon.
The study, by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, is the first academic effort to probe the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the climate denial movement.
It found that the amount of money flowing through third-party, pass-through foundations like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital, whose funding cannot be traced, has risen dramatically over the past five years.
In all, 140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010.
Another key finding: From 2003 to 2007, Koch Affiliated Foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were "heavily involved" in funding climate change denial efforts. But Exxon hasn't made a publically traceable contribution since 2008, and Koch's efforts dramatically declined, Brulle said.
Coinciding with a decline in traceable funding, Brulle found a dramatic rise in the cash flowing to denial organizations from DonorsTrust, a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation, the assessment found, now accounts for 25 percent of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations promoting the systematic denial of climate change.
This is a criminal conspiracy and people and corporations who engage in it should be liable to suit and eventually imprisonment due to the significant damage currently being done which will only accelerate as business as usual is allowed to continue.
Climate change denial doesn't have an ethical, scientific, moral or legal leg to stand on.