One last thing about global warming: There have been increasing calls for an investigation of ExxonMobil for violations of RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which makes it illegal to engage in fraud for financial gain. There is a precedent, pointed out by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse when he jump-started the idea in a floor speech and op-ed in May, in that tobacco companies were prosecuted under RICO for their long campaign to hide and deny what they knew were the dangers of smoking.
The connection is that investigations by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Los Angeles Times, and Inside Climate News have shown that according to its own internal documents, as long ago as the late 1970s ExxonMobil's researchers knew both of the dangers of global warming and that use of the corporation's main product - oil - was a prime cause.
And now that past might, just might, be catching up with it - although I have no confidence that a massive corporation like ExxonMobil could be brought to justice or, bluntly, that Barack Obama has much interest in trying.
Still, the calls for an investigation have been growing - and reached a sort of milestone on October 29, when Hillary Clinton said the Justice Department should investigate because "There’s a lot of evidence that they misled people."
Why is that important? Because if Hillary Clinton can endorse the idea, that is a real sign that this has gone mainstream. This is about as centrist as it gets. And even if Exxon can't face justice, the fact that its lies - and the fact that it lied - are going mainstream can only help those fleeting hopes for an environmentally-safe future.
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