Something bizarre happened Wednesday after the U.S. District Court for the District Northern California held a “tutorial” hearing on global warming science.
Chevron agreed with the latest scientific assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), which was released in 2013 and 2014, the oil company’s lawyer said.
California cities, environmentalists, and some scientists argued that Chevron’s use of the IPCC’s latest assessment was misleading since it was outdated. Effectively, those seeking to punish oil companies are throwing aside the oft touted “consensus” on climate science.
The irony was not lost on University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke, Jr., who has published peer-reviewed studies on climate science and policies.
This tweet indicates how much the climate debate has changed.
An oil company is invoking the IPCC consensus as their opponents, environmental activists (including some climate scientists), deny the IPCC consensus.
Bizzaro world!⬇️ https://t.co/M8lbeZHlQi
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) March 21, 2018
San Francisco and Oakland filed suit against five oil companies, including Chevron, over the damages man-made global warming has allegedly caused. Chevron was the only defendant that chose to participate in the climate science hearing, but the oil company surprised plaintiffs by not challenging the “consensus” IPCC assessment.
That ruffled the feathers of some scientists and environmentalists, who immediately went on the offensive against Chevron, accusing the company of using the IPCC to discredit climate policies.
“Chevron’s lawyer plucked his strategy right from the climate-denier playbook,” environmental group the Center for Biological Diversity climate scientist Shaye Wolf told Earther.
Apparently, the “climate-denier playbook” includes citing the IPCC. Chevron agreed with the IPCC’s scientific assessment, while the company did not agree with policy proposals the international body suggests, the oil entity argued.
“He overemphasized and inflated narrow areas of uncertainty about global warming’s impacts. And he bobbed and weaved his way out of acknowledging the role of fossil fuels,” Wolf said.
Climate scientists Kate Marvel of NASA and Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech went on to argue the IPCC’s 2013 report was outdated and scientific studies in the years since have paint a more alarming picture of man-made warming.
“The most recent IPCC report came out in 2013, but the climate model simulations used in that report stopped in 2005,” Marvel told Earther.
“By ‘stopped,’ I mean they relied on observational data (greenhouse gases, aerosols, volcanic dust, solar fluctuations) only up to that point,” she said. “Everything going forward was a projection, using our best guesses of what emissions would look like.”
The IPCC report is the gold standard of climate science assessment, but it falls short in three important and relevant ways that would lead me, as a scientist, to advise expanding the literature used in this case if one wanted to obtain the most comprehensive and up-to-date perspective on the state of climate science.
In another instance, University of California professor Gary Griggs argued Chevron’s presenting of IPCC sea level rise projections were outdated. Griggs, a coastal geography expert, was brought in by trial lawyers representing San Francisco and Oakland.
Chevron’s presentation on sea level rise focuses on IPCC from 2013, which means observations end a couple of years before that. Sea level rise science has advanced significantly since the last IPCC, as Gary Griggs indicated earlier. #climatetutorial
— Molly Peterson (@Mollydacious) March 21, 2018
But this argument is illogical. If climate science is grounded in “fact,” then earlier predictions based on a given model should be borne out by the realities. If they not, then what justification can so-called scientists provide for accepting revised predictions, which may themselves be junked somewhere do the road?
Chevron also presented the court with charts showing climate models tended to overestimate man-made warming. Chevron was misleading by presenting outdated graphs comparing models and temperature observations, some climate scientists argued.
— Phelim McAleer (@PhelimMcAleer) March 21, 2018
This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.