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An update on global warming, er, ‘climate change’ lawsuitsAn update on global warming, er, ‘climate change’ lawsuits

Skeptics of climate science claim that CO2 is no more of a pollutant than pure water and sunshine.

Gary Baise 1

May 15, 2018

4 Min Read

The wild storm of legal activity surrounding climate change claims began long ago and has now grown to a tidal wave. Here’s a rundown for those scoring at home:

  • November 2015 -  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (since resigned and disgraced by sexual escapades) issued the first subpoena to Exxon which launched a series of investigations as to whether Exxon lied to the public about risks of climate change.

  • February 2016 - Schneiderman announced the formation of a Democrat Attorneys General group to further investigate Exxon. Now numerous legal battles have erupted in Texas, with one Texas judge ordering the Massachusetts Attorney General to appear in Texas for a deposition.

  • June 2017 - Schneiderman called Exxon’s climate change accounting a “sham." Five cities and three counties in California have filed civil lawsuits against numerous oil and gas companies alleging a public nuisance claim. The lawsuits seek billions of dollars to pay for mitigation costs, such as building sea walls to protect coastal property.

  • March 2018 - A federal judge in San Francisco requested the parties to present a peer review of the science supporting climate change. San Francisco and Oakland are attempting to have five major oil producers pay the costs of protecting their coastal areas. Skeptics of climate change have asked the court in San Francisco to submit their views in an amicus brief. The judge has asked a number of questions and is looking for answers.

Not my problem

The oil companies, according to news reports, do not seem to be questioning the science behind climate change but are apparently arguing climate change is not their clients’ responsibility. The court, however, has pointed out several inaccuracies in the climate data and materials submitted by the plaintiffs against the oil companies.

The court has ripped plaintiffs’ claims there is a “smoking gun” document which alleged the oil companies have conspired to suppress information regarding their role in producing products which create carbon dioxide or CO2. The so called “smoking gun” document turned out to be a summary from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The court pointed out correctly that using this alleged scientific document would be tough since the IPCC document is riddled with inaccuracies.

Kids in court?

A series of cases have been brought entitled Children’s Climate lawsuits. It is claimed young people are now at the forefront of climate change lawsuits and the young people claim federal and state governments are responsible for preventing and addressing climate change.

Nine children’s lawsuits have been filed in state courts. These children’s climate change cases are scheduled to begin in October of this year. Federal courts, as one would expect, in Oregon have denied requests to dismiss these cases. One federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration’s effort to throw out the case, and the appeals court has ruled that the children’s case may proceed in a lower court. This of course is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The chief legal counsel for the Children’s Trust claims she wants to get to court as quickly as possible in 2018 because of the “…urgency of the climate crisis.” The Trust is asking the courts to force the Trump administration to enact policies and regulations which will cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and halt all subsidies to the oil companies.

The skeptics of climate science claim that CO2 is no more of a pollutant than pure water and sunshine.  Dr. William Happer, Professor Emeritus Department of Physics, Princeton University, is an expert on optics, radio frequency, spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, radiation propagation in the atmosphere, and many other areas. Dr. Happer was director of energy research in the Department of Energy under President Bush 41. Happer believes that climate change supporters are engaging in propaganda when they say 97% of scientists support climate change.

When did it become climate change?

Happer observes that the term “global warming” has been replaced by the term “climate change.” He says, “much of this propaganda has been generated by research grants from the federal government.” He is concerned that research grants are only given to scientists who believe in climate alarmism.

“Climate alarmism has been greatly exacerbated by the government’s thumb on the scales of scientific research," Happer said. "It is time for it to make amends with an honest review of climate science by a team of first-class scientists.” 

Happer’s views are set forth in detail in the spring issue of Range Magazine. The possibility that the real science may be brought out may occur in a San Francisco courtroom.

We can only hope.   

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

About the Author(s)

Gary Baise 1

Environmental Lawyer/Blogger

Gary H. Baise is an Illinois farmer and trial attorney at the law firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC specializing in agricultural and environmental trial issues in state and federal courts. He also serves as outside General Counsel for the U.S. Grains Council, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Sorghum Producers and counsel to the American Soybean Association.


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