Month: March 2018

The Children’s Crusade (Lawsuit) Against Climate Change

Guest essay by Dale Leuck

A so-far not-widely-noticed lawsuit was filed in the liberal United States District Court, Eugene Oregon Division, in September 2015, in response to the failure of the December 2009 Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change to reach any meaningful agreement, and in anticipation that the December 2015 Paris Climate Conference would also not result in a legally-binding agreement. Should the plaintiffs prevail at trial, the consequences for the U.S. economy would be severe.

Should the plaintiffs prevail, United States government offices, agencies, and departments shall be ordered (Par 12) “…to cease their permitting, authorizing, and subsidizing of fossil fuels and, instead, move to swiftly phase out CO2 emissions, as well as take such other action necessary to ensure that atmospheric CO2 is no more concentrated than 350 ppm by 2100, including to develop a national plan to restore Earth’s energy balance, and implement that national plan so as to stabilize the climate system.”

The lawsuit, organized and guided by Our Children’s Trust, was filed by a group called Earth Guardians, and a group of 21 children represented by their guardians, with defendants listed as the Office of the President, and various Offices, Departments and Agencies of Government. The lead Counsel is Julia Olson, the Executive Director of Our Children’s Trust.

The essence of the suit is that many official U.S. Government documents accept that climate change will cause various kinds of harm to the environment, that will affect today’s children, as well as future generations, through such things as drought, rising sea levels, migration, and political instability. As such, the defendants are alleged to have “…violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” As Mark Buchanan points out:

“They have a plausible case: In earlier proceedings, the U.S. District Court in Oregon ruled that the due process clause of the Constitution guarantees citizens an “unenumerated fundamental right” to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.”

What Buchanan is referring to is a 54-page November 10, 2016 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Judge Aiken cites the public trust doctrine (36-51); “Obergefell v. Hodges, that guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage, and Roe v. Wade (pp 30-31), as supporting fundamental rights not enumerated in the Constitution.

She found that

“…the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society (pp.32)…just as marriage is the foundation of the family (pp.32).” Aiken agreed that “…inactions of the government…have ‘so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten plaintiff’s fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty”.

Importantly, the November decision states that the “…lawsuit is not about proving that climate change is happening or that human activity is driving it. For the purposes of this motion, those facts are undisputed.” The Court is concerned about “…whether defendants are responsible…and whether this Court can direct defendants to change their policy without running afoul of the separation of powers doctrine.”

A Petition For Writ of Mandamus, to vacate the November 10 Order and dismiss the case was filed June 9, 2017 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court was asked to consider the undue burden placed on all government offices, departments, and agencies to provide detailed evidence dating back roughly fifty years, in the discovery process. The three-judge Appeals panel handed down its ruling March 7,2018, denying the Petition for Mandamus because the District Court had not yet issued any discovery orders, nor had the plaintiffs yet filed any motions compelling discovery. The Appeals Court noted that “…issues can be resolved by the district court, in a future appeal, or, if extraordinary circumstances later…by mandamus relief.”

The lawsuit shall continue winding its way through the Ninth Circuit Court system, with a heavy burden of proof now placed upon the defendants, seeming the reverse of usual court proceedings, in which plaintiffs bear the burden of proof.

The lawsuit is a collaborative effort between Dr. James Hanson, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and The Children’s Trust, and based on a 6-page non-technical paper whose lead author is Dr. Hanson. Hanson is named in the lawsuit as the guardian of both his plaintiff granddaughter, and plaintiffs “referred to as Future Generations, (who) retain the legal right to inherit well-stewarded public trust resources and protection of their future lives, liberties, and property.” Hanson was Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), from 1981 through 2013. As one of the two sources of surface-based temperature data, GISS periodically adjusts its data to favor the global warming, an example of which in 2016 is discussed at the 4:30 mark in this Tony Heller video. Hanson’s protégé, Gavin Schmidt, employed at GISS since 1996, has headed GISS since June 2014. Schmidt is one of the eight contributors to the blog, Real Climate, along with disgraced inventor of the “hockey stick,” Michael Mann (here, here, and here). Booker, pp. 23-25, describes how Hanson, Schmidt, and Mann contribute to a politicized “climate science.”

The lawsuit has, among its plaintiffs, an articulate spokesperson, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the now 17-year-old climate activist and Youth Director of Earth Guardians. His vita states that the precocious Xiuhtezcatl began his career at the age of six, speaking at “…the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio…to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York city. He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize, …(the) 2016 Captain Planet Award and the 2016 children’s Climate Prize, from Sweden.” Among his claimed accomplishments were getting “pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained, and moratoriums on fracking.” Xiuhtezcatl has no scientific expertise but brings “music to the masses,” but represents a sympathetic minority (Aztec) youth as an expert on things he knows nothing about.

The lawsuit states (pp.7-8) that the then-15-year old, Xiuhtezcatl, “…engages in sacred indigenous spiritual and cultural practices to honor and protect the Earth…and has suffered harm to his spiritual and cultural practices from Defendant’s actions,” as well as his “…personal safety, property, and recreational interests through the resulting increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, drought, declining snowpack, pine-beetle infested forests, and extreme flooding.” The reference to “spiritual and cultural practices” may arguably allude to an infringement upon freedom of religion.

Page 15 of the lawsuit describes the harm Defendant’s actions have caused 10-year old plaintiff Avery M, who herself has

“…worked to increase awareness in her community about climate change…and advocated for carbon dioxide reductions before her representatives at…municipal and state levels.” The harm done to Avery is related to her enjoying backpacking and “swimming in natural bodies of water.” Not only was Avery unable “…to participate in these recreational activities as frequently as past years due to warmer temperatures, drought, low water levels, forest fires, and algal blooms” but the “…increase of hungry bears in the (Yellowstone) area due to the decline in white bark pine trees forced postponement of a backpacking trip.

Then there is 13-year old plaintiff, Isaac V, who in the lawsuit expressed that summer 2015 was “…the hottest summer Isaac remembers, with temperatures at 100 degrees.” And 14-year old Miko V, an immigrant from the Marshall Islands, who

“…fears she will never be able to travel back…as she intends…because the islands will likely be underwater in the future.”

Plaintiff Sophie K., a 16 resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania “…became passionate about climate science” from stories told by her guardian (representing her in the lawsuit) and grandfather, Dr. James Hansen.

“Extreme weather events…caused Sophie to miss school on many occasions; hailstorms have damaged her house; floodwaters often inundate roads by her house…” and she is “deeply concerned about the future.”

Crusades by idealist, uninformed, and undereducated children, motivated and supported by malevolent adults generally do not end well. The Children’s Crusade of 1212, to expel Muslims from the holy land, for example, was inspired by the teachings of adult preachers. Much like the global warming hysteria, the preaching appealed to idealistic youth, who were torn from and sometimes encourage by their families, and thrust into a closed environment of groupthink. Some thirty thousand, most not yet teenagers, led by a youth known as “Stephen,” massed at Vendome, and trekked towards the port of Marseilles, many dying on the way. When the sea refused to part, as Stephen claimed Christ Himself had promised, in a vision, many turned against him. As if a miracle, two merchants offered seven ships to carry them to the Holy Land. Eighteen years later, a returning French priest, who had accompanied the children, revealed that the two merchants had arranged to sell the children and accompanying adults into slavery. The priest had survived and prospered because of his education, eventually set free.

The youths party to the lawsuit shall most certainly find life disappointing, even if the lawsuit succeeds. But, its success will create an obvious onerous burden on all generations.

via Watts Up With That?

March 31, 2018 at 03:09PM

Safety in Numbers

When­ever I look back on the banality of my recent­ly defunct career, I can’t resist the urge to abstract my­self from the story. Who is this guy who wast­ed so much time on so much trivia? That can’t be me! It says here in the script that I was an intellectual behemoth who offered the human race a new rôle in the universe. So why was I in a meeting trying to decide whether the results of flushing a lavatory in a stationary train should be classified as ‘Special Waste’ or ‘Controlled Waste’? Spirit of Christmases Fucked, why are you show­ing me this?

Actual­ly, I think I can answer my own question. It’s just a timely reminder that ‘self-identified’ is the postmodern term for ‘deluded’.* Fantasy and fate have a habit of avoiding each other’s company, but am I bitter? Just a tad.

I could carry on in this vein, entertaining you with the wistful angst of an aging Caucasian male, but I also have a serious point to make. First, however, I must admit that not all of my career was as soul-sapping as the Great Train Toiletry Debate. Towards the end of my working life, for instance, I became involved in the honourable trade of safety-systems engineering, specialis­ing in the functional safety analysis of computer-based systems.

To master the subject, l had to tackle a weighty tome called ‘IEC 61508—Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems.’ This is a standard that details, with almost talmud­ic opacity, the development lifecycle to be followed by safety engineers in the design and construction of computer-controlled, safety-critical systems. In particular, it tells you how to identify necessary safety functions, together with the standards of reliability required to achieve specified levels of safety. The reliability targets are quantified as Safety Integrity Levels [SILs], ranging from SIL 1 to SIL 4 (with SIL 1 being the least failure-proof). For each level, IEC 61508 explains the techniques that are both prescribed and proscribed for achieving the safety target.

It was all good stuff. But there was one thing that troubled me.

You see, impressive though IEC 61508 is, I was always struck by the complete lack of evidence that adherence to its instructions would result in the various levels of safety promised. SILs are specified in terms of failure rates, with SIL 4 (as a case in point) representing ‘failures upon demand’ that may be as few as 1 in 105. For such high-integrity systems one could be waiting millennia for confirmation that the required reliability had been achieved. Even when historical checks were practicable, nobody seemed to be conducting them to see if systems developed under IEC 61508 were doing what it said on the tin. It all looked very suspect to me, so when I had the privilege of working with a safety consultant of considerable standing in the field, I posed this question of evidential support to him. This was his response:

“Yes, John, I too was troubled by that. So I asked one of IEC 61508’s authors to outline the process they’d used to decide how to correlate the approved methods and techniques to the SILs. The story he told me was that he met up with two of his colleagues at a pavement café in Bruges, where they determined themselves to thrash it out. Basically, they just shouted things out and wrote them down, and as the strong Belgian lager flowed, the job just got easier and easier.”**

And that’s how the world’s safety engineering community established the scripture we used to ensure the functional integrity of everything from automatic braking systems to nuclear power stations. I am not saying that the evidence for all computer-controlled system safety is spurious, but you need to know that a lot of the evidence cited in support of a system’s safety case will often amount to little more than an auditor’s confirmation of IEC 61508 compliance. Consequently, I advise that one should treat any claims for the achievement of specific safety levels with just a small wheelie bin of salt. Furthermore, knowing now the ease by which drunken whimsy can take the reins of power, perhaps you should be on the lookout for other signs of bogus authority. Is the IPCC immune from the same Wizard of Oz syndrome? Did anyone check Moses’ breath when he came down from Mount Sinai?

To answer the former question it’s useful to appreciate that climatology is just a branch of systems safety analysis. It is an attempt to understand and, thereby, predict the future behaviour of a system (the climate system) that has a posited failure mode (anthropogenic global warming) with the potential to cause serious and irreversible harm (CAGW). A safety case has been developed by an authoritative body (the IPCC) and safety case reports (Assessment Reports) are regularly produced to communicate said case to the policy makers. There are even proposed interventions that have been deemed necessary (though not necessarily adequate) to reduce the risks to acceptable levels.

When I look at climatology, I see nothing I haven’t seen many times before in the field of safety engineering. There are decisions made with incomplete evidence. There are uncertainties that cannot be reduced (at least within the timescales required). And, above all, there is an over-reliance on appeal to authority. (All too often in safety management, it is not the truth that matters but the extent to which the experts can agree).

But there is one major difference: Safety engineers know what they are doing, and they know they are not doing science.

Meanwhile, back at IPCC headquarters, lead authors are developing standards for the communication of uncertainty, and are confidently using their cherished terminology to classify the likelihoods that their various proclamations may be true. Would it be churlish of me to enquire who, exactly, was on the team that dreamt up these classifications, and how many lagers were consumed in the process? ■

* And don’t think you can teach me anything about delusion–I bloody well invented the word.

** This story may be slightly hyped in the re-telling but please do not mistake it for a conspiracy theory. It’s just a little-known insight, which I’ve chosen to share with you, dear reader. You would actually need a conspiracist mindset not to believe me.

via Climate Scepticism

March 31, 2018 at 01:55PM

Easter snow from Plains to New Jersey

Up to seven inches (18 cm) of snow is forecast for Easter Sunday for at least 13 states, including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and maybe Long Island.

In Montana, the National Weather Service is warning ranchers that the incoming snow, cold and wind could impact newborn livestock

Snow should streak eastward from Wyoming and Nebraska through southern Iowa, northern Missouri and central Illinois on Easter Sunday, says

Large portions of interstates 29, 35, 70, 75, 80 and 95 lie in the path of the storm.

“The Monday morning commute could be filled with delays, especially along the Interstate-95 corridor from Baltimore through Philadelphia and possibly as far north as New York City,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.

The post Easter snow from Plains to New Jersey appeared first on Ice Age Now.

via Ice Age Now

March 31, 2018 at 12:29PM

Are Sunspots and Grand Minimums Linked?

Willis Eschenbach in a guest post at Watts Up With That has some insight in an article on the Tools to Spots the Spots The general thought process is that the lack of sunspots results in lower temperatures on the planet. Long-term loss of sunspots is labeled grand minimums, of which we have identified as … Continue reading "Are Sunspots and Grand Minimums Linked?"

via The Next Grand Minimum

March 31, 2018 at 11:47AM