Mathematician and software engineer Leonid Goldstein filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on September 12, 2016, against what he says is a “climate alarmism enterprise” (CAE).
The alleged CAE consists of more then 40 environmental groups, green investment funds, and foundations, who Goldstein’s filing states are “engaged in a long-term criminal scheme, involving a false claim that anthropogenic release (or emissions) of carbon dioxide caused a dangerous ‘global warming’ or a dangerous ‘climate change,’ and persecution of the dissidents or demanding government actions, based on this false claim, including money transfer.”
Goldstein says CAE has broken multiple laws and violated ethics by bribing, retaliating against, and tampering with witnesses, bribing public officials, and embezzling trillions of dollars from pension and welfare plans and social security.
Among the groups being sued are the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Friends of the Earth, Generation Investment Management, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Climate Action Network, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Lawsuit Pros and Cons
Although he shares Goldstein’s frustration with environmentalists’ attempts to suppress debate concerning climate science and policy, David Schnare, general counsel of the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, says he doesn’t support Goldstein’s argument.
“The First Amendment protects an essential right, the right to free speech,” Schnare said. “Just as the investigation threatened by state attorneys general is intended to stifle debate and trample the speech of those who believe the science does not support fears of cataclysmic climate change, Mr. Goldstein’s lawsuit has the same intent: to trample the rights of those who believe the end of the world is near.
“We all wish intellectual elites can discourse in freedom on issues of importance to us all in a manner that allows open, robust argument,” Schnare said. “[Even when] such discourse is marred by logical fallacies and hyperbole, I will not engage in any effort to shut down the public forum. While I commend Mr. Goldstein’s zeal, I cannot commend his lawsuit.”
Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, thinks Goldstein’s lawsuit may have merit.
“As a letter sent to Democratic attorneys general threating to prosecute climate skeptics from a number of Republican attorneys general points out, if global warming skeptics can be prosecuted under statutes targeting organized crime for underestimating the risks of climate change, then global warming alarmists could be prosecuted for exaggerating the risks of climate change,” said Ebell. “Alarmists could also be prosecuted for denying or grossly underestimating the deleterious effects of their energy-rationing policies on human flourishing.
“Millions of poor people … will be further impoverished by the higher energy prices resulting from the alarmists’ policy agenda,” Ebell said. “Poverty is a lot worse for people’s health and well-being than warmer temperatures.”
Leonid Goldstein v. Climate Action Network, et al., U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, September 12, 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/leonid-goldstein-v-climate-action-network-et-al
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, et al., Letter from Republican State Attorneys General Warning of Possible Climate Alarmist Prosecutions, June 15, 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/letter-from-republican-state-ags-warning-of-possible-climate-alarmist-prosecutions