Breaking: Frivolous Climate Lawsuits Hit the Wall

We’ve reported here previously on the frivolous lawsuits the climatistas brought in California courts against major oil companies, and especially how California cities claimed imminent harm from climate change while telling prospective bond buyers that they couldn’t estimate possible future risks from climate change.

In any case, late today Federal district court judge William Alsop—a Bill Clinton appointee—dismissed the lawsuits with a strongly-worded opinion that is quite clear about how ridiculous these suits are. It does not dispute the conventional account of climate change at all. But it does say the lawsuit is preposterous. Some excerpts:

The scope of plaintiffs’ theory is breathtaking. It would reach the sale of fossil fuels anywhere in the world, including all past and otherwise lawful sales, where the seller knew that the combustion of fossil fuels contributed to the phenomenon of global warming. While these actions are brought against the first, second, fourth, sixth and ninth largest producers of fossil fuels, anyone who supplied fossil fuels with knowledge of the problem would be liable. At one point, counsel seemed to limit liability to those who had promoted allegedly phony science to deny climate change. But at oral argument, plaintiffs’ counsel clarified that any such promotion remained merely a “plus factor.” Their theory rests on the sweeping proposition that otherwise lawful and everyday sales of fossil fuels, combined with an awareness that greenhouse gas emissions lead to increased global temperatures, constitute a public nuisance. . .

With respect to balancing the social utility against the gravity of the anticipated harm, it is  true that carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels has caused (and will continue to cause) global warming. But against that negative, we must weigh this positive: our industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal. Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible. All of us have benefitted.  Having reaped the benefit of that historic progress, would it really be fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded? Is it really fair, in light of those benefits, to say that the sale of fossil fuels was unreasonable? . . .

In sum, this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real. But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.

The point is, even if you are a convinced thermageddonite, trial lawyers aren’t going to save the planet. Of course, the famously nutty Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could reverse this common sense finding, thus allowing for the Supreme Court to smack it down one more time.


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