From the Oakland v. oil company lawsuit to ridiculous “research,” the onslaught never ends
Guest essay by Paul Driessen
Anyone who thought “manmade climate cataclysm” rhetoric couldn’t possibly exceed Obama era levels should read the complaint filed in the “public nuisance” lawsuit that’s being argued before Federal District Court Judge William Alsup in a California courtroom: Oakland v BP and other oil companies.
The allegations read at times like they were written by a Monty Python comedy team and a couple of first year law students. Defendant companies “conspired” to produce dangerous fuels, the complaint asserts, and “followed the Big Tobacco playbook” to promote their use, while paying “denialist front groups” to question “established” climate science, “downplay” the “unprecedented” risks of manmade global warming, and launch “unfounded attacks on the integrity” of leading “consensus” scientists.
“People of color” and other “socially vulnerable” individuals will be most severely affected, it continues. (They’ll be far more severely impacted by climate policies that drive up energy and food prices.)
Oakland’s lawyers excoriate astrophysicist Wei Hock “Willie” Soon for committing the unpardonable sin of suggesting the sun might have something to do with climate change. They couldn’t even get his PhD degree right. They call him an “aerospace engineer,” and claim he personally received $1.2 million that was actually paid to Harvard University (as multiple, easily accessible documents make clear).
They don’t even mention the billions of taxpayer dollars that have been divvied up year after year among researchers and activists who promote alarmist views on global warming and renewable energy.
Oakland and its fellow litigants expect the court to accept their claims at face value, as “established” science, with no need to present real-world evidence to support them. They particularly emphasize rising seas and the resulting “imminent threat of catastrophic storm surges” that are “projected” by computer models that assume carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is now the primary or sole driver of climate change, replacing the sun, cosmic rays, ocean currents and other powerful natural forces that did so “previously.”
In suing the five major oil companies, they ignore the fact that the companies burn very few of the hydrocarbon fuels they produce. It is the plaintiff city governments and their constituents who have happily burned oil and natural gas for over a century, to fuel their cars, heat, cool, light and electrify their offices and homes, and make their industries, communications, health and living standards possible.
In the process, it is they who have generated the plant-fertilizing CO2 that is allegedly causing the unprecedented global warming, melting ice caps and rising seas. Hydrocarbons also fuel essential backup electricity generators for California’s wind and solar facilities – and provide raw materials for fabrics, plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals and countless other products the litigants use every day.
Equally problematical for the plaintiffs, the “established, consensus” science asserted throughout their complaint and courtroom presentations is increasingly uncertain and hotly debated. As Heartland Institute scholar Joe Bast points out, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now expresses numerous doubts and uncertainties about rates of sea level rise, the role of CO2, the cause and duration of a global warming “pause” that has now lasted some 23 years. Indeed, the temperature spike caused by the 2015-16 El Niño has now almost disappeared, as the oceans and atmosphere continue to cool once again.
The oil companies decided not to present much climate science in the courtroom. However, expert materials prepared by Christopher Monckton, Will Happer, Richard Lindzen and colleagues addressed questions about equilibrium climate sensitivity and related issues in amicus curiae filings for the court.
Oakland’s claim that the oil companies “conspired” to hide and misrepresent “the science” on global warming and climate change is on thin ice. Some reports say Judge Alsup dismissed the claim or ruled that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that there was a conspiracy. In any event, a decision on the merits will eventually be made, the losing party will appeal, and the case will likely end up in the US Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, climate chaos claims continue causing consternation in some circles. Too much money, power, prestige, control and wealth redistribution is at stake for anything else to happen.
Indeed, many in the $1.5-trillion-a-year Climate Industrial Complex are determined to use this issue (and equally malleable “sustainability” mantras) to replace free enterprise capitalism with totalitarian one-world governance; fossil fuel and nuclear power (the source of 85% of US and global energy) with expensive, land-intensive wind, solar and biofuel energy; and the hopes and dreams of poor people everywhere with policies that permit their living standards to improve only minimally, at the margins.
Actually, climate chaos hype-potheses now blame not just carbon dioxide and methane for runaway global warming, but also asthma inhalers and meat diets. The results aren’t just rising seas, warmer and colder weather, wetter and drier seasons, forest fires, nonexistent mass extinctions and the other oft-cited pseudo-cataclysms. They also include shrinking animals, a worse opioid crisis, and the endless litany of often amusing afflictions and disasters chronicled in The Warmlist and its video counterpart.
And the real effects of manmade climate cataclysm fears are not just soaring prices for less available, less reliable, grid-destabilizing “green” electricity. They also include having to rescue adventurers who try to sail, snowmobile or trek across supposedly melting Arctic and Antarctic ice packs – only to become stranded and frostbitten or have their ships trapped in rapidly freezing ice.
So, what should climate disaster stalwarts do, when temperatures and sea levels refuse to cooperate with Al Gore speeches and computer model “projections” and “scenarios”? Or when forecasts of more hurricanes are followed by a record 12-year absence of any Category 3-5 storms hitting the US mainland?
One strategy is refusing to debate anyone who challenges the dire hypotheses, data or conclusions. Another involves “homogenizing,” “correcting” and manipulating original data, to make Dust Bowl era temperatures less warm – and this year’s long and bitterly cold winter not nearly so frigid, by adjusting records from local temperature stations by as much as 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 Celsius).
As to the numerous articles and studies published on WattsUpWithThat.com, DrRoySpencer.com, ClimateDepot.com, ClimateChangeReconsidered.org and other sites that focus on evidence-based climate studies and research, and challenge assertions like those relied on in the Oakland complaint – the increasingly preferred strategy is to employ algorithms and other tactics that relegate their work to the bottom of search engine results. Long lists of alarmist claims, articles and perspectives appear first, unless a student or other researcher enters very specific search terms. Even the major shortcomings of wind power are hard to find, if you don’t know precisely what you are looking for.
Google, Facebook, You Tube and other search, information and social media sites appear determined to be the arbiters of what information, facts and realities we can access, what our children can learn. They help stigmatize and bully scientists whose research or views do not hew to accepted liberal perspectives, and have even enlisted corporate advertisers into policing the speech of political opponents.
All this from the champions of free speech, tolerance, diversity and inclusion. Just bear in mind:
The issue is not whether our planet is warming, or whether climate and weather are changing. The issue is what is causing those fluctuations, how much is due to fossil fuels versus to natural forces, and whether any coming changes will be as catastrophic as natural forces have caused multiple times in the past. (Imagine what would happen to cities, farms and humanity if we had another Pleistocene ice age.)
All of this once again underscores why America and the world need “Red Team” climate science exercises, more evidence-based climate education, and a reversal of the Obama EPA’s unsupported finding that carbon dioxide emissions somehow endanger human health and welfare.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.