A “new” study from the usual band of activists claims that 90 “carbon producers” are responsible for as much as half of the global temperature increase in the last century.
There’s no nothing new about the study, of course. It’s literally a rehash of a report released in 2013 by Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute. Heede, you may recall, was the co-host of the 2012 La Jolla conference—a gathering of two dozen climate-change scholars, activists and trial lawyers—which foretold the coming of the study.
Drawing upon the forthcoming “carbon majors” analysis by Richard Heede, it may be feasible and highly valuable to publicly attribute important changes in climate, such as sea level rise, to specific carbon producers … [Conference attendee and trial lawyer] Matt Pawa thought the information could prove quite useful in helping to establish joint and several liability in tort cases. [Emphasis added.]
It’s interesting to note how prescient those activists in La Jolla actually were. When San Francisco and Oakland California filed a lawsuit last month against five oil and gas companies for contributing to climate change, they cited the Heede study; they specifically sued over the rise in sea levels; and they hired Pawa to argue their case.
The problem with every iteration of this study is that it seeks to blame oil, gas and coal companies for providing the energy that makes our modern life possible, without any consideration given to the people—every single one of us—who benefit from this affordable and abundant energy supply. This glaring omission is so egregious that even UC Berkeley’s School of Business called them on it back in 2013, saying “It’s just a copout to blame the producers of products that we have demanded, and benefitted from, for more than a century.”
But perhaps the best response came from the satirical news site the Onion, which published a “news” story back in 2013 with the headline: “New Report Finds Climate Change Caused by 7 Billion Key Individuals.”
Researchers have isolated numerous instances of environmentally harmful activity committed by these 7 billion perpetrators in the past few decades alone, identifying practices such as using electric lights, shipping packages, traveling by car, traveling by air, buying clothes, washing clothes, using heat, using air conditioning, buying food, buying water, eating meat, commuting to work, shopping, exercising at the gym, disposing of waste, operating computers, operating televisions, operating other household electronic appliances, and showering—alarming activities that experts say show no signs of remitting.
This stinging critique applies equally well to the latest version of this fundamentally flawed “study.”