A little bit more climate suing stuff

sx Following on from More climate suing stuff, Alsup, and Who knew what when with a side order of Para 67, there's a period of rest for the court, so let punditry thriveStanford law and science experts discuss court case that could set precedent for climate change litigation is mostly good, but with key problems.

The tutorial revealed that there is not going to be a lot of fighting about the fact that human activities are causing accelerated climate change is true, and it seems to have been a rather efficient and trouble free process. Why do you think both sides are largely in agreement on the science? gets the obvious answer "because both sides are using the same source, viz the IPCC"1. But it isn't quite obvious: Chevron could perhaps have chosen to quibble it. I'm glad they didn't; it would be stupid and unsustainable and messy; and as I've been saying for years, there are better fields to fight on. Which brings us to:

What can science tell us about whether companies or individuals are more responsible for climate change-related impacts? Mach: Science doesn’t have a single best answer... but no no no no: the correct answer is that this isn't a scientific question. Mach is apparently a research scientist, so it is perhaps natural that she attempt to provide a scientific answer, diverting over to current versus historical emissions. But that's not the line of defence that Chevron has put forward; they have put forward the rather more fundamental "FF companies producing FFs don't cause GW, people burning FFs provided to them by FF companies cause GW".

Another interesting point that strikes me, now, is that Chevron put forward a lawyer saying "we accept the IPCC". The cities put forward some well-known scientists. It was a climate tutorial, so perhaps that was fair enough, but the cities will need to pivot somewhat away from the science, if it isn't going to be a point of contention. They can't win the case on the science.

There's a nod to the propaganda aspect: the plaintiffs must show that a 50-year or whatever delay caused by the industry cover-up is the cause of damages that they are experiencing today. That’s a tall order. And speculation: testing out legal theories and strategies designed to shake the country out of its complacency and highlight the need for much more urgent and robust action.

Meanwhile, elsewhere

There's a case involving a Gorette in Roxbury, wherein Judge Mary Ann Driscoll found the defendants not responsible, saying she agreed with their argument that their actions were necessary to combat climate change... “Based on the very heartfelt expressions of the defendants who believe, and I don’t question their beliefs in any respect, who believe in their cause because they believe they were entitled to invoke the necessity defense, I’ll accept what they said,” which reads pretty weirdly to me. The idea that you can get off due to the sincerity of your belief is odd; but it was a minor case, and their "crime" had already been downgraded to parking-ticket status. But despite quasi-diligent searching I can't find the actual court proceedings, or even discover the actual case name.

[Update: astonishingly, there is some intelligent comment at WUWT on the issue.]


1. With quibbles, of course. Chevron are hewing to the conservative IPCC line; and getting a lot of flak from their opponents for not using post-IPCC-AR5 science; but this is trivia, in the great scheme of things. Indeed, it begins to seem more like a knee-jerk from people who simply knew they were going to find something in the science Chevron presented to disagree with.


Climate Change Movement Retreats to California Courts
* Space-X: Iridium-5


Millicent said...

I am quite sure that, as my contemporaries get in their cars to travel a few hundred yards to the shops today, they will see the hypocrisy of blaming the oil companies. Still, if ever somebody did deserve to be made a scapegoat, the fossil fuel companies do.

Millicent said...

But even then, the entire thing is a farce when the people punished are not the executives who set the crime in motion or the shills who committed it.

Hank Roberts said...

Don't look down!


"Due to some restrictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA for short, SpaceX will be intentionally ending live video coverage of the second stage just prior to engine shutdown," SpaceX materials engineer Michael Hammersley said during a live webcast commentary of the Iridium-5 mission. "We're working with NOAA to address these restrictions in order to hopefully be able to bring you live views from orbit in the future."...
... In a statement released this afternoon, NOAA officials said it's all about cameras.

"The National and Commercial Space Program Act requires a commercial remote sensing license for companies having the capacity to take an image of Earth while on orbit," NOAA officials wrote in the statement "Now that launch companies are putting video cameras on stage 2 rockets that reach an on-orbit status, all such launches will be held to the requirements of the law and its conditions."

That means SpaceX had to apply for a license to livestream the video from its Falcon 9 second stage, which the company did. Though apparently, NOAA's approval came with some strings attached for at least this mission.

"SpaceX applied and received a license from NOAA that included conditions on their capability to live-stream from space," NOAA officials explained. "Conditions on Earth imaging to protect national security are common to all licenses for launches with on-orbit capabilities."


I remember reading somewhere (before the Internet) a piece quoting the early astronauts who had taken second flights into orbit, saying that it was remarkable how much hazier the atmosphere had become since the early 1960s. I wonder why visibility has declined?

crandles said...

launch April 2nd 20:30 UTC 21:30 BST

"This booster is expendable to test landing procedures/practices that push the bounds. This booster has already flown. Trade between landing or doing a demonstration. This booster will fly trajectory toward the limits to collect data for the future."

Looking like no 3rd flight of same booster til block 5?

William M. Connolley said...

It is kinda interesting. I might have thought the booster would be worth something, purely as a museum piece. But maybe not the ?$200k? (I made that number up) it would cost to collect it. As working objects, if SpaceX is moving towards 10s of reuses of the block 5, then they really don't need all that many cores sitting around, especially old ones.

dave said...

From "Who knew what when?", in 1990 the IPCC was certain that human activity was causing unquantified warming. The Chevron defense accepts IPCC 2013, but puts forward "FF companies producing FFs don't cause GW, people burning FFs provided to them by FF companies cause GW".

The names and themes were covered in December by 538..
Pruitt wants more precision than the IPCC has given before any EPA action.
He uses a version of the "sound science" trick used from 1992 against tobacco regulation, and used in a 1998 action plan by the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron and Exxon Mobil to “install uncertainty” about the link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

And, on March 29th, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/theres-still-no-such-thing-as-sound-science/ has Pruitt moving against sekrit science so that the EPA can be told to disregard normal science. And change rules on emissions beyond what even carmakers wanted.. http://time.com/5225317/vehicle-emissions-standards-pruitt-trump/

So, big success for the 1998 action plan, and no liability on the same basis that "companies producing tobacco don't cause cancer, people burning tobacco provided to them by these companies cause cancer". Not sure that worked so well last time.

William M. Connolley said...

Remember to distinguish Pruitt from FF companies. In terms of the suing, he's irrelevant.

"Project uncertainty" will likely be part of the suing (or at least it will be if the cities get their act together). But be cautious about what you accept as proved. http://www.climatefiles.com/exxonmobil/1998-global-climate-science-communications-team-action-plan/ is one thing, but you have to read the words, not the spin people put on them. *Most* of the words can be read as unexceptionable: recognising uncertainty. I haven't read all the words, so it's quite possible they've incautiously gone to far in places (perhaps "those promoting Kyoto... appear to be out of touch with reality"). But even if you can do that, you'll have to tie it to the FF's policy. Just having one bloke turn up isn't the same. I'm speaking as devil's advocate here, in case it isn't clear.

As I've said before, I'm doubtful that the tobacco analogy will help much.... see comments here.


That gigantic roar of a rocket exhaust plume should serve as a wake up call to Elon Musk.

Climate scientists can now demand the return of Concorde with a clear conscience- the per passenger carbon footprint of Elon Musk's 2008 Tesla roadster now far exceeds that of any vehiicle on earth:
In the long tun the roadster will get great battery milage in space, but that cannot discount the amount of fuel trun hrough its first stage engine

Anonymous said...

Thiokol made reusable solid fueled rocket boosters for the Shuttle back in the 70s or 80s. Don't know if those were the first or not.

What's the big deal about the Space-X boosters being reusable? Because they are liquid fueled?

William M. Connolley said...

SRBs: yes indeed; see for example [[Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster]]. I didn't appreciate this until a while ago. What's the big deal: I can guess, but I think the actual info isn't clearly available (which may itself be revealing). There's a hint on the wiki page: "Over 5,000 parts were refurbished for reuse after each flight". SpaceX's intent is to refly without refurbishing so many bits.

Now I look harder, https://www.quora.com/Space-Shuttle-How-much-money-was-saved-by-reusing-the-Solid-Rocket-Boosters-SRBs-instead-of-making-them-disposable offers a variety of opinions, up to making them reusbale made them cost more, not less, overall.