Climate News Updates

Despite wanting to ignore the tedious and repetitive subject of climate change (the biggest loser from the COVID-19 crisis, by the way), now and then there is some actual news worthy of note. Here are two items of interest:

Several years back we reported on the preposterous energy claims of Stanford Prof. Mark Jacobson (most of whose Stanford colleagues think him a joke), who claims the U.S. can derive 100 percent of its energy needs from “renewable” energy sources including especially pumped storage (think dams), which is laughably absurd, as the environmental lawsuits against building large scale pumped storage facilities in states like California and Colorado would last into the next millennium. (Greenies who celebrate the recent court rulings blocking oil and natural gas pipelines may want to consider: sauce for the goose.)

In any case, in this post  in 2017 we reported on the large number of energy experts, mostly from within the conventional climate and energy community, who thoroughly debunked Jacobson’s flim-flam in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Jacobson responded by suing his critics for $10 million, as we reported here, with the comment: “Nothing says ‘I have confidence in my work’ more than a lawsuit against your critics. Or maybe Jacobson didn’t want Michael Mann to be the undisputed champion of bringing whinny litigation against critics.”

Jacobson subsequently dropped his suit, probably when he sobered up and a lawyer explained what a real suit would cost and how badly he was going to lose, but that wasn’t the very end of the story. Retraction Watch reports this week:

Stanford prof ordered to pay legal fees after dropping $10 million defamation case against another scientist

A Stanford professor who sued a critic and a scientific journal for $10 million — then dropped the suit — has been ordered to pay the defendants’ legal fees based on a statute “designed to provide for early dismissal of meritless lawsuits filed against people for the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Mark Jacobson, who studies renewable energy at Stanford, sued in September 2017 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for defamation over a 2017 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that critiqued a 2015 article he had written in the same journal. He sued PNAS and the first author of the paper, Christopher Clack, an executive at a firm that analyzes renewable energy.

At the time, Kenneth White, a lawyer at Southern California firm Brown White & Osborn who frequently blogs at Popehat about legal issues related to free speech, said of the suit:

It’s not incompetently drafted, but it’s clearly vexatious and intended to silence dissent about an alleged scientist’s peer-reviewed article.

In February 2018, following a hearing at which PNAS argued for the case to be dismissed, Jacobson dropped the suit, telling us that he “was expecting them to settle.” The defendants then filed, based on the anti-SLAPP — for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” — statute in Washington, DC, for Jacobson to pay their legal fees. . .

Jacobson could be on the hook for more than $600,000, the total of what the plaintiffs have told the court were their legal costs — $535,900 for PNAS, and $75,000 for Clack.

More at the link above, but you get the idea. Also: potentially bad news for Michael Mann’s ridiculous and protracted lawsuit against National Review and Mark Steyn.

• Back in 1995 Gregg Easterbrook published A Moment on the Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism. It was a great book, and although dated, still worth a look if you are a student of the subject. As you can tell by the subtitle (which never came true, alas), Easterbrook took a heterodox view that enraged the environmental movement whose commitment to the apocalypse is central to their very being. The Environmental Defense Fund, supposed a “moderate” activist group, went to DefCon 1, putting out repeated attacks on the book and launching an early website to sustain the attack on the heretic. It was all nitpicking, of course, designed simply to smear Easterbrook.

Well, the same thing is happening now to Michael Shellenberger over his new book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.  Michael was on our podcast last month—give the episode a listen if you missed it, but by all means by the book. As the book is enjoying strong early sales, the climate campaigners are not happy. So they’re attacking, but the mode of attack is amusing and revealing of the deep insecurity of the climatistas.

The most interesting incident is a column Michael wrote for Forbes online (he has been a Forbes contributor for a long while now on energy and environmental subjects) where he offered a personal apology for having spent much of his earlier career hyping the climate crisis narrative”

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologise for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening, it’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

For some reason that has still not been explained adequately to my knowledge, Forbes took the piece down. Sounds like maybe Forbes has hired too many editorial staff from the New York Times? (The official story is that the piece was too “self-promotional,” but this sounds weak.) In any case, The Spectator has picked up the piece, and you can read the whole thing here.

And then there’s social media, where the fury expresses itself in the usual style of personal and ad hominem attacks on Michael. He’s not an actual climate scientist! He’s a hack! He’s a lightweight who shouldn’t be taken seriously!

So why do the climatistas have their knickers in such a bunch about his book? Quite telling when they’ve taken a torpedo below the water line.