Guest essay by Russell Cook
If you are an enviro-activist with access to lawyers and mega-money who believes that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) is caused by evil fossil fuel industries who ignore this harm to humanity to protect their profits, you don’t simply whine about this problem, you file giant lawsuits against those industries.
This already happened in three major global warming nuisance cases: Connecticut v. American Electric Power, Comer v. Murphy Oil, and Kivalina v. Exxon. More recently, New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman joined with 19 or so other state attorneys general to hold ExxonMobil accountable for supposedly knowing about the harm of it for decades while failing to tell its shareholders about it.
However, Schneiderman has suffered setbacks ranging from faulty evidence to withdrawn subpoenas, and the three global warming nuisance cases have fallen apart. The Supreme Court dismissed Connecticut v. AEP on June 20, 2011; Comer v. Murphy Oil came to its final end on March 20, 2012; and the 9th District Court put the final nail in the coffin of Kivalina v. Exxon on September 21, 2012, prompting some legal pundits to wonder if this was the end of climate tort litigation.
But if at first you don’t succeed with winning your global warming nuisance lawsuits, try, try again.
So it was no surprise last week when nearly identical complaints were filed separately in San Francisco and Alameda Counties, People of the State of California v. British Petroleum P.L.C. et al., by San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera and Oakland city attorney Barbara J. Parker.
These latest twin cases are predictably plagued with the same problems as the previous CAGW court cases. Courtrooms are not the right places to decide whether scientific conclusions are sound, and the far bigger problem is that in order to marginalize any input from skeptic scientists, they must be portrayed as paid shills of the fossil fuel industry. This is arguably political suicide, as it involves reliance on a literally unsupportable accusation promulgated by a small clique of people who’ve been involved in pushing the accusation over the last two decades.
Two of them, reappear – directly and indirectly – in these newest cases: attorney Matt Pawa, who cited this same set of memos in his Kivalina v. Exxon case, and Kert Davies, whose old Ozone Action organization claimed it had “obtained” them back in 1996.
- A New York Times article used as evidence in the complaints, about Harvard-Smithsonian scientist Dr. Willie Soon being paid $1.2 million, cites Kert Davies.
- The complaints cite a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) regarding the accusation that Dr. S. Fred Singer was paid Exxon money to “attack mainstream science.” However, consideration must be given to the facts that 1) UCS revealed their own enslavement to the “reposition global warming” memos in 2015; 2) the UCS report cited in the complaints thanks Kert Davies while citing Ross Gelbspan’s website twice; and 3) the complaints’ wording about “attacks on mainstream science” in regard to Dr. Singer sounds eerily similar to what Ross Gelbspan said in his March 2006 presentation at the Earthlands Retreat Center in Petersham, Massachusetts:
Western Fuels, which is a 400 million dollar coal operation, it was very candid in its annual report. It said it was out to attack mainstream scientists, it hired three scientists who were skeptical of this, phenomenon, Pat Michaels, Bob Balling, Fred Singer. It turned out they paid these three scientists more than a million dollars under the table[.] … [T]hey sent these scientist[s] all over the country to do a lot of media interviews and lectures and appearances, and so forth. We got a copy of the strategy papers for that campaign. And it says specifically that the campaign is designed to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact[.]”
That statement wildly inaccurate. Western Fuels is a non-profit co-op, it had no such declaration in its annual reports, Dr. Singer was never part of that campaign, Michaels and Balling were not sent all over the country, and the so-called strategy statement Gelbspan speaks of was never part of Western Fuels’ short-lived pilot project public relations campaign.
There aren’t just one or two questionable assertions within the “industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists” accusation; it is besieged with fatal problems. Start with these California cases and work backwards from there; it soon becomes evident that it isn’t “Big Oil” that should be investigated over racketeering to keep their industry alive, but a small clique of enviro-activists facing disappearing income flow if the public lost all faith in the idea of catastrophic man-caused global warming because of what skeptic climate scientists have to say.
Russell Cook’s blog GelbspanFiles.com is a forensic examination of faults in the corruption accusation against skeptic climate scientists, an outgrowth of his original articles here at American Thinker. Facebook and Twitter.