The Greens versus “Big Oil”

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 PowerComer 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However, Schneiderman has suffered setbacks ranging from faulty evidence to withdrawn subpoenas, and the three global warming nuisance cases have fallen apart.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.

Read more: “People of the State of California v. BP P.L.C. et al.”


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.

 

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61 thoughts on “The Greens versus “Big Oil”

      • Squiggy~ he spent 20 years supposedly upholding the law and now he is acting in Contempt of it. For a person of his political stature that’s a Huge no-no.

      • Because “general” is used as a descriptive term, i.e., an adjective – you don’t pluralize an adjective. The noun itself is attorney, thus “attorneys-general.” What is actually “wrong” about the usage is not which gets pluralized, rather, which comes first. It is a “head first” compound noun. Apparently, blame the French.

      • No he had it correct. They ARE all “attorneys” and they do all consider themselves to be dictatorial “Generals” . But yes, none of them rise to the level of Field Marshalls.

        G

      • And in this case it is “attorney” that is adjectival, and General is the noun.

        So there; sue me !

        G

    • US oil companies make about five cents off a single gallon of gasoline, on the other hand US Big Government taxes on a single gallon is around seventy-one cents for US states & rising, the tax is now $1.00 for CA.
      IOW, greedy governments make fourteen to twenty times what oil companies make and it is the oil companies who make & deliver the vital product to the marketplace.

      It’s Big Government, not Big Oil.

  1. …However, Schneiderman has suffered setbacks ranging from faulty evidence to withdrawn subpoenas, and the three global warming nuisance cases have fallen apart….

    On the contrary, these court cases have all been enormously successful. They have successfully moved vast quantities of green activist contributions into the pockets of the lawyers.

    I am sure that, initially, the lawyers were asked for their opinion on whether these cases should be proceeded with, and to a man they will have answered in the affirmative. To a lawyer, there is no point turning down a case complaining about lack of provision for unicorns – so long as your client is rich and the organisation you are suing has deep enough pockets to keep the case going.

    As Steyn points out with his Mann case, the punishment is in the procedure….

    • As Steyn points out with his Mann case, the punishment is in the procedure….

      The Steyn case is a good example. Steyn was talking as an individual not as a large corporation, so of course, litigation is oppressive for any individual caught up in litigation. As Steyn points out with his Mann case, the punishment is in the procedure and the punishment works both ways.

      In the type of litigation being discussed in this article, Mann would be obliged to give full disclosure of his evidence, his code etc. He would then be questioned on his statistical prowess, and he would be questioned views as to why trees are good temperature proxies, how and why he selected the tress making up his data set, how his code was tested and verified, why he cut and spliced the proxy and the thermometer set together. He would be questioned on everything revealed in the Wagmann reports (I cannot remember the name of the person who led the inquiry, but it is something like that)

      Mann would be questioned on the disregarded tree ring data, and that his tree rings whilst showing yearly/multidecadal variation showed no net NH warming between 1940 and 1995. Mann would be questioned as to whether his tree rings were in fact more reliable than the adjusted thermometer record, and that the tree rings were right in that as at the mid 1990s there was in fact no net warming over that seen ~1940.

      Mann would be showed Jones and Wigley’s 1980 paper and Hansen’s 1981 paper that both showed that as at 1980 the NH was some 0.3 to 0.4 degC cooler than 1940. He would be shown the AR1 which concluded that even globally there had been no net warming above that of the 1940s. he would be questioned on that line of evidence and the fact that his tree ring data corresponded well with that temperature record, and the divergence was simply with the later heavily adjusted thermometer record. he would be questioned on why he thought that the adjusted record was better than his tree rings,and better than AR1 and the Jones and Hansen’s papers etc.

      Mann would also be questioned in detail on the LIA, and the MWP, and why given what we know about these events in the NH, he was not more sceptical as to the stick part of his plot.

      Mann would have a very difficult time in the witness box. One thing that Judges do not like is alteration of evidence, and another is lying. Mann has a proven record of lying (or being economical with the truth) as was apparent in the Senate inquiry where, in his written testimony, he referred to Judith Curry as a d€nier, and in oral testimony said he had never called any scientist a d€nier, only for Judith Curry to call him out on that one.

      This type of litigation is thwart with difficulties on the accuser’s side.

      • I agree with everything you say except what judges will and will not tolerate. Know more than one judge in an environmental case to go political and not follow the law or even judicial procedure. A couple actually inserted their own “scientific” interpretation. I knew of one judge, although not in an environmental case, that flatly refused to look at any data, pictures, or other evidence. He is no longer a judge or practicing law. He grossly underestimated our attorney, who was a rare, wise and very honorable man.

  2. Courtrooms are not the right places to decide whether scientific conclusions are sound

    Every day, Courts across the globe, but particularly those in London have to evaluate the merits of competing expert evidence. Sometimes there are trade affiliated arbitrations (eg maritime, metal exchange, grain and animal (GAFTA); feeds, oil and fatty acids (FOSFA), etc etc) where the arbitrators have some experience in the business, but generally an independent Judge is quite capable of evaluating the soundness of competing expert evidence, and of course, the burden is on the accuser to make good its accusation.

    My big concern with the Courts is the independence of the Judges in what is a highly politicized field, but save for that, I consider that the Courts would readily throw out the conclusions reached by the IPCC. I do not consider that the threshold test of the balance of probabilities is met even at the most cursory level, eg.,

    1. Is it any warmer today than it was in the 1930s/1940s.
    2. To the extent that there is change, Is such change in temperature something other than of natural origin.,
    3 Is there any more extreme weather today than in the past.
    4. To the extent that there is more extreme weather today, is this something other than of natural origin.
    5. Are rising temperatures of 2 to 4 degrees a net bad thing
    6. In Earth’s convective atmosphere and the water world on which we live, does CO2 drive increases in temperature.

    The list goes on. As I say, even at the most basic level, a Court when hearing all the competing evidence, would simply conclude that the accuser’s case is not made out.

    Even Hansen recognizes that, and this lies behind his suggestion that the null hypothesis should be altered, and of course, it is also the reason why Climate Scientists never wish to debate matters, and why the mantra is that “the debate is over” and “the science is settled.” When one hears someone saying that “the debate is over”, you know that they are about to espouse dogma, and when you hear someone saying that “the science is settled”, you know that they are about to be unscientific.

    All in all, I would not mind seeing this properly thrashed out in Court, especially as the likes of Mann would not give evidence in support of their claims, and there would be a field day with disclosure and a chance to forensically examine the adjustments made to the data.

    These actions are bluff and virtual signalling.

    • Your two comments imply the virtues of a “science court” (Google for it) where advocates of a consensus position can be cross-examined by skeptics and evaluated by scientifically knowledgable non-pals. (It wouldn’t be part of the legal system.)

  3. It used to be popular to file patent cases in venues like East Texas which were seen as being friendly to plaintiffs. The Supreme Court has ended that abuse (known as venue shopping) by ruling that patent cases must be filed where the targeted company is incorporated. link

    1 – So … does the above apply to lawsuits against BP for ‘climate crimes’? Could it be used to limit the number of courts where such lawsuits could be filed?

    2 – Where several similar lawsuits have failed, is it abuse of process to file more?

      • Sorry to be pedantic, but it’s “cut muster” of “pass muster”. “Muster” is a gathering of troops and cursory inspection to determine readiness for action. Those who don’t pass muster or don’t “cut it” are rejected.

      • @rocketscientist

        I do not like being pedantic, since most people commenting on this site, do so rather hastily, as we all have other things to do. I therefore always prefer to look to the thrust of a comment, ie., the substance of the point being made.

        However, it appears to me that you are confusing two phrases/expressions which are in common everyday usage; You are referring to “pass muster” (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/pass+muster) an expression that would be appropriate, and one that I could have used.

        The other expression is to “cut the mustard”, the expression that I chose to ran with. You can find details about it at :
        https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cut_the_mustard
        http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cut+the+mustard

        Both expressions have similar meanings. Pass muster is a commonly used expression, but perhaps more so in the US, and it may be in the US, the expression cut the mustard is less frequently used given its English/French background.

        But the materially point is that as sunsettommy notes, you do not refute the point that I made.

    • There are no ‘denial’ organizations.

      Now, for the sake of balance, inform us as to how many BILLIONS go into ‘man-made’ climate research.

    • The paper doesn’t say “climate denial organizations”. It says “organizations that make up the climate change counter-movement (CCCM) in the United States” and doesn’t have a complete list.

      Of those it mentions, my scan shows no attempt to allocate the percentage of their work in just the CCCM. E.g. the CATO institute is does many things, probably a small fraction is climate related.

      I guess it’s no wonder the paper isn’t well known.

      You mention “in the interests of balance.” I claim BS – if you were thusly interested, you would have linked to the paper instead of a known biased source like the current SciAm. (Thank you Martin Gardner.) And I’d worry about linking to a paper that includes Naomi Oreskes in the bibliography.

    • As always, Griff lies by telling half the story.
      FIrst off, those climate denial organizations are not. They are conservative organizations, one aspect of which is opposition to the climate change war mongers.
      Griffie wants you to believe that every penny of that $558 million is being spent on climate issues. It isn’t, and Griff knows this, but since lies suit his purpose better, that’s the way he goes.
      Secondly, $558 million over 8 years is barely $70 million a year.

      His side spends billions per year on spreading their message.

      • Along with the demonization of the real and practical stored chemical energy industries and suppliers; who do actually fuel the world; the billions spent subsidizing proponents of somewhat impractical ” Renewable ” energy concepts are only a part of the energy dilemma.

        The October issue of ” Physics Today ” carries a letter from a Robert L Hirsch describing some issues of a companion money rat hole that rivals renewables; the issue of ” Practical Fusion Energy. ”

        Apparently in 1994, one of THE Energy Pooh Bahs (EPRI) declared that three criteria for fusion power to be “practical.”

        These were ECONOMICS, REGULATIONS, and ACCEPTANCE.

        Wow just think about it ! nobody apparently believes it is important to show that the proposed technology even works. So long as it doesn’t cost too much, and the NRC allows people to build them, and the public doesn’t mind having one in their back yard; the small matter of actual functioning, does not seem to matter to the spenders of all of that money.

        Hirsch does state one clearly erroneous assertion in his section on acceptance.
        He asserts that Fusion is rightly described as the fundamental energy source of the Universe..

        No Mr Hirsch; the fundamental energy source of the universe is GRAVITATION.

        And it is quite simple. All that you need to make a practical Gravitational energy source, is a mass of Hydrogen isotopes somewhat in excess of the mass of a Brown Dwarf star.

        Put that together, and you can’t stop it from supplying thermal energy. It is automatic, because Gravity sucks.

        According to Hirsch, ITER costs may run to ten times the budgeted $5.6 Billion, and the important reactor core is likely to be 60 times as massive as the core of a typical Fission reactor. Just what everybody wants in their back yard.

        Also Fusion Tokomak reactors have an inherent failure problem. When the superconducting Tokomagnets; suddenly decide to go unsuperconducting for whatever reason; that event comes with a whole lot of energy getting loose inside the containment building.

        Designers don’t know how big a containment building you need for this 60 times massive Fusion core; but it will be safe to be around (by definition; if not by design.

        Well a Steven Cowley is asked to comment on Hirsch, and disagrees somewhat. but he also raises issues like tritium breeding and storage, as well as the radioactivity due to the DT neutron flux.

        Hirsch does mention the p-11B fusion reaction which is sans neutron radiation; but doesn’t mention its ignition conditions.

        So the greens are not alone in chasing a pig in a poke. The “Energy of the Future” folks are at it as well.

        G

      • I doubt very much that ANYONE is stupid enough to pay griff as a troll.

        He makes a MOCKERY of the AGW scäm/agenda with his constant wrong mess.

    • “140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010”

      so you’re saying the conservative organizations are under funded

    • Griff, post this RED HERRING in a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from big lawsuit failures.

      You also seem to ignore the guest post completely since since it states at the end,

      “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.”

      The liars are losing because they run on lies and deceptions. You didn’t notice it because you might one of that tribe?

    • “140 foundations funneled $558 million to almost 100 climate denial organizations from 2003 to 2010”

      A mere drop in the ocean compared to the BILLIONs of seized taxpayers money given YEARLY to the neo-Marxists promoting their easily debunked nonsense.

  4. Excerpt from the above article:
    “That statement (was) 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.”

    What is it about the far-left that enables them to simply fabricate huge lies and then repeat them so often that gullible fools believe them and idiot politicians act on them?

    Joseph Goebbels would be proud of his successors.
    http://www.psywarrior.com/Goebbels.html

      • I don’t know. He’s been repeating the same tired lies for years. The only one Griff is fooling, is himself.

    • Nobel cause corruption.
      They believe that since they are trying to save the world, this entitles them to say and do whatever is necessary to achieve their goal.

  5. What they are perpetrating here is massive insurance fraud.
    Since there is no catastrophic global warming, there can be no damage due to catastrophic global warming.
    The damages have to be commensurate with the injury, and the global warming has to be the proximate cause.
    Otherwise, I could claim that my ingrown toenails were caused by radiation from my cell phone.

  6. It’s amazing–and a tacit confession they’ve got no case–that the climate RICO crowd is still whining about the 1991 “reposition” memo. The memo was about a pilot project for a national ad campaign that never materialized. Check out my 2014 blog post, “Do Skeptics Reposition Warming as Theory or Do Alarmists Reposition Fear as Fact?: http://www.globalwarming.org/2014/03/21/do-skeptics-reposition-warming-as-theory-or-do-alarmists-reposition-fear-as-fact-revisiting-an-urban-legend/

    • They’re hedging their investment and profiting from the political, corporate, and academic myths that sustain the high margin, low availability, gray impact of so-called “green” technology.

  7. The artificial green blight versus the organic black blob. We could probably use both to optimize our use of resources, energy production, and environmental conservation.

  8. Don’t buy and e-vehicle that uses an aluminum frame of chassis to help reduce overall weight due to the extremely heavy batteries. Insurance underwriters are quick to write them off after fairly minor vehicle accidents……. because: 1) Body shops are not equipped to weld or work with damaged aluminum. Aluminum welders require specialized skills, are in very short supply and are paid much more for thier work.
    2) Crumpled and stressed aluminum cannot be reshaped to the original size without risk of tearing and, if done successfully, cannot be trusted to be structurally strong.
    3) The additional electrical shock and arc flash risks require extensive additional training for electricians which drive up the cost of electricians on staff etc.

    Choose conventional gas, diesel or even a pluggable hybrid that does not use an aluminum frame or chassis if you must.

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