District of Columbia v ExxonMobil Corp, BP Plc, Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (10/17/20 update)

[10/17/20 Author’s update: see red asterisked items below near the end]

Unlike Minnesota vs. API, et al. which I dissected only days ago in my prior blog post, this DC v Exxon et. al lawsuit only crashes half as badly concerning worthless ‘leaked memos’ it relies on for its claim that the fossil fuel industry hired shill skeptic climate scientists to engage in disinformation campaigns. It still completely crashes on that angle nevertheless. Here’s how.

Its main evidence for that claim is only the notorious-but-still-worthless 1998 American Petroleum Institute “victory will be achieved…” memo set, which appears within the “Defendants Used API to Deceive Consumers” section on page 32 (PDF file page 36) of the filing:

Exxon, Chevron, and API contributed to the development of the plan, which plainly set forth the criteria by which the contributors would know when their efforts to manufacture doubt had been successful. “Victory,” they wrote, “will be achieved when . . . average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science” and “recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’” In other words, the plan was part of Defendants’ goal to use disinformation to plant doubt about the reality of climate change in an effort to maintain consumer demand for their fossil fuel products and their large profits.

That assertion is worthless because, as I’ve noted in every one of my blog posts on global warming lawsuits referencing that API memo set, and within my Backgrounder post dissecting the outright worthlessness of this set, it was unsolicited* and never implemented[*Author’s 5/13/21 note: this is corrected/clarified here]

There is no way Exxon, Chevron, or any other energy company — or even by American Petroleum Institute, for that matter — could have operated under that “plan” if it was in a landfill for nobody to use. Even if they did, the rejected set of “victory” measurements used to ascertain whether the public is fully aware of the skeptic side of the issue give absolutely zero indication that the intent of the measurements was to show how the public was conned by false climate assessments. I illustrated this absurdity of attempting to portray the measurements as sinister with a lengthy mirror flip of them that Greenpeace would love in my first post in a four-part series on this worthless API memo.

The notion that the 1998 API memo, regardless of its status, is a document proving sinister disinformation efforts exist is simply ridiculous.

While the lawsuit chooses not to rely on the seemingly more viable “reposition global warming” memo set, like Minnesota vs. API, et al. does to indict skeptic scientists and industry executives of collusion, DC v Exxon immediately makes other literally unsupportable assertions right after its claims about the API memo set. In “Section C. Defendants Funded and Controlled Scientists to Sow Confusion and Doubt,” we see this (red numbers are my addition):

A key part of Defendants’ long-term campaign to discredit the scientific consensus on climate change was to 1) bankroll scientists who were willing to cast doubt on climate science in the public sphere. These scientists obtained part or all of their research budget directly or indirectly from Defendants through Defendant-funded organizations like API. However, the scientists 2) frequently failed to disclose that they were financed by the fossil fuel industry.
3) both Exxon and API funded and promoted the work of Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, and Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project (“SEPP”). 4) Neither Seitz nor Singer was trained in climate science. Both had previously been 5) hired by tobacco companies to create doubt in the public mind by questioning mainstream scientific conclusions.
In 1998, Seitz helped to organize and distribute 6) a sham petition “refuting” global warming. The petition was formatted to look like it was sanctioned by the National Academy of Sciences and sent to thousands of American scientists. … Although supposedly 7) signed by 17,000 “scientists,” the list of signatories was 8) filled with fictitious names, deceased persons, and celebrities. The petition was so misleading that the National Academy of Sciences issued a news release stating that: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. 9) The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, 10) nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.”

  1. That’s a false premise insinuating the ‘bankrolled’ scientists held a different position but changed to spout the non-science from oil/coal executives when large amounts of money were waved in their faces. Bribery, in other words. As I detailed in my May 12, 2016 blog post, the scientists held their viewpoints before they were ever approached by fossil fuel people, therefore they were not corrupted to tell falsehoods created by industry executives.
  2. There is no need for anyone to disclose their funding because the funding of any person who holds any position on a topic is irrelevant when the funding is not contingent on the person following orders from the funder. Using the logic of “funding fatally taints viewpoints” from the Al Gore side of the issue, then by default all material associated with former IPCC Vice Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is worthless due to his declaration that a paper of his was commissioned by Greenpeace while he worked within the IPCC.
  3. Funded … to do what, exactly? Under what penalty if they didn’t deliver what the money bought? No evidence exists proving a pay-for-performance existed between the two scientists and fossil fuel industry executives regarding climate science matters.
  4. This assertion is fatally undermined by the far-left’s own embracing of ‘settled science’ pronouncements from a politician, a high school teenager, an environmental journalist, a Hollywood actor, etc, not one of whom has any semblance of outright climate science training, or even anything relating to Earth sciences. The late Dr S Fred Singer was an atmospheric physicist (the atmosphere being the place with the excess CO2 acting like a blanket to keep the heat in). The late Dr Frederick Seitz was the first president of the National Academy of Sciences, a position in which people who are devoid of science expertise, such as politicians, teenagers, reporters, or movie stars, would be comically unqualified to hold.
  5. No evidence exists proving either Dr Singer or Dr Seitz were paid tobacco industry money to “create doubt in the public mind. Dr Singer didn’t even question the harm of second-hand cigarette smoke.
  6. The Oregon Petition Project was no sham, and still isn’t. The creator of the petition denied formatting it to fool anyone, as did his assistant, along with an individual not directly related to the petition project who saw its earliest version.
  7. This one’s embarrassing. The signatory count’s highest number of 31,487 was recorded back in mid-May 2010.The 17,000 figure dates from more than a decade earlier than that.
  8. As I detailed at considerable length regarding the claims about all the ‘fake signatures’ at my March 29, 2016 blog post, it turns there was only one – Only. One. – fake name added by people within the old Ozone Action group, who used that sham excuse to ‘discover’ other names which were simply the same or similar to deceased people and celebrities.
  9. The private individual in item 5 I mentioned had also noted that the petition – albeit around 2007 when it approaching its highest signatory figure – was accompanied by a science paper.
  10. Nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science“?? Back in 2008, I ran across a blogger attempting to float the same assertion, using a basically faulty line of reasoning in his tedious names search method of the petition. He tried to imply there were no signers who were Fellows of American Geophysical Union, scientists who’d arguably be experts in climate science as it relates to Earth science. Inside of 5 minutes of starting with AGW Fellow scientist names I found elsewhere, I found two of them in the petition, and found several more very soon afterward …. not that this blogger could bring himself to print the full context of my initial comment while he backpedaled out of his self-inflicted problem, nor could he bring himself to print my followup comment which demonstrated how many more I was able to easily find.

Claims by the National Academy of Sciences and others that there are zero scientist signers having climate science expertise in the Oregon Petition Project are ludicrous, a tactic designed to distract the public away from realizing that highly educated science people signed it because they fully understand how the Scientific Method works and objectively question the conclusions of IPCC climate reports and the methodology the IPCC used to gather its information.

The question on that last bit is whether this DC v Exxon et. al lawsuit is simply trusting the decades-old assertion from the National Academy of Sciences, or was an effort made to corroborate that assertion?

But a larger question looms, made all the more obvious by this DC v Exxon et. al lawsuit’s total lack of supporting footnotes or endnotes for its claims: Did anyone at the D.C. attorney General’s office do any independent research into these claims or accusations, or is the lawsuit relying completely on sets of talking points supplied by unnamed others? Is there any hint within this lawsuit on who might have provided information about the worthless old API memo or those other ‘crooked skeptics’ talking points?

There is.**

It’s on page 78 (PDF file page 82) of the filing:

Yes, that Sher Edling law firm,** the one handling ten other municipality global warming lawsuits, including the most recent Honolulu v. Sunoco one which I dissected in my March 19, 2020 blog post; the same Sher Edling firm that directly taps Kert Davies’ ‘platform’ used by his Climate Investigations Center organization. That Kert Davies, whose Climate Investigations Center Twitter page prominently features the old 1998 API memo in its header photo. Where would the comically outdated “17,000 Oregon Petition signers” figure be seen by not-especially-bright interns at either the offices of Sher Edling or the D.C. Attorney General’s offices? How about within documents provided by Kert Davies’ Climate Files? This is the same Kert Davies who I detailed in my prior blog post and many prior times as having serious problems in association with the worthless memo set this DC v Exxon et. al lawsuit chose not to rely on.

From all that looms the same larger question I asked at the end of my dissections of the Honolulu and Minnesota lawsuits, as it relates to the exposé of Kert Davies and his former boss receiving millions of dollars of dark money:

Does nearly 5 million dollars or more buy ready-made global warming lawsuit templates that the Sher Edling law firm can dangle in front of state Attorneys General, prompting those AGs to file global warming lawsuits in which Sher Edling can provide legal assistance?

[**10/17/20 Author’s update: no need to speculate on how much of a hand the Sher Edling law firm has in this one. They now claim it directly at their website.]
There’s always more – “D.C. v ExxonMobil, et. al Pt 2: the ‘17,000 Scientists’ Source Problem