September 2008 Archives

Years of Scripted Phrases for a Climate Denier


The Professional Denier's script
Purpose is to delay organized reaction that could limit carbon fuel consumption

For optimal delay - try to prolong time between each statement, begin:

"There is no such thing as global warming"
"OK there is some warming
        But the science is still not certain

"OK most ALL Scientists agree that there is warming
        But some scientists do not completely agree.

"OK I see that you don't really need to be a scientist to see the warming
        But it is not warming everywhere

"OK I see the data says average global temps are warming
        But your data collection is flawed

"OK I see that data has been collected for years just about everywhere
        But not the oceans, the oceans are still just fine

"OK I see the oceans are warming most everywhere
        But Antarctic ice is increasing

"OK I see the Artic ice is melting, and Greenland ice cap too.
        But that is natural cyclical change

"OK I see that there is no regular cycle to explain our industrial age
          But global warming is not really caused by humans

"OK I see the warming may be greatly enhanced by humans
        But we cannot possibly do anything about it.

"OK maybe we should try to do something about it.
        But it won't be a problem for another century

"OK maybe it is smarter to face the problem sooner rather than later,
        But we should not be overly concerned or act with too much haste

"OK we should be really concerned and start to act right now
        But we should not be too anxious or worried

"OK we should be worried
        But we should certainly not be alarmist

"OK maybe we should sound the alarm,
        but we should not panic.

( "OK that should delay things for a few decades, can we have our paycheck now?)
Richard Pauli 9-08

Two Lumps of Coal in the Green Linen Sheets


It’s like seeing a Heart Association 10k race sponsored by a tobacco company.

Two big coal companies are sponsoring the October conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists

The registration page lists the sponsors - the premier two are:
American Electric Power
Dominion Power

The Society of Environmental Journalists is a very active organization offering wonderful workshops, mentoring, classes and serious support for journalists covering all things environmental. Well maybe not all things. They seem to get into bed easily.

The non-profit Society has a multimillion dollar yearly budget — a pretty big organization for a membership of just 1400. From their non-profit filings we see that much of their revenue comes from renting out their mailing list. These journalists are prime targets for energy companies wanting to ‘deliver information’ - and explains why coal companies would want to cozy up.

When it comes to the environment, these two companies have a long, abysmal and controversial record. A quick Google search reveals why they may want to ingratiate themselves to environmental journalists:

American Electric Power is the largest electricity generating utility in the United States and the 35th-top air polluter — emitting roughly 88 million pounds of toxic chemicals that will combine to make acid rain. American Electric Power was in court starting in 1999 and just recently agreed to install $4.6 billion in pollution-control measures at 16 existing plants and pay $75 million in penalties.

Virginia based Dominion Power controversially worked closely with the state corporation commission to receive state legislation that gave Virginia’s utilities, including Dominion Virginia Power, “billions of dollars in guaranteed profits to build coal and nuclear plants … before spending anything on energy conservation”

The Society of Environmental Journalists might want to examine themselves first.

======== SEJ’s Thoughtful Response =============

Hello Richard.

As  executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists, I’d like to provide some accurate information  and clear up your misperception on the nature of the relationship between SEJ and Virginia Tech’s list of supporting sponsors for our Roanoke conference October 15 - 19.

By long standing policy of the SEJ board, SEJ does not accept gifts or grants from non-media corporations, government agencies or environmental advocacy groups. Our organization is funded by foundation grants, university sponsorship of the annual conference, gifts from individuals, and earned income (including dues, subscriptions, mail list rental, conference registration, exhibition fees and advertisements in SEJ publications).  

Virginia Tech invited us to bring our 2008 conference to their state and they pledged $160,000 to help underwrite direct expenses of the meeting (catering, buses, printing, and so on).  SEJ has raised another $200,000 from the above noted revenues to pay the balance of personnel and nonpersonnel costs of the meeting. 

Virginia Tech is very proud to be hosting and sponsoring SEJ this year. Dominion Power and American Electric Power are listed as “Premier Sponsors” for Virginia Tech because they are the most generous contributors among the companies, agencies and groups that are donating funds to Virginia Tech to help them fulfill their long-standing pledge to SEJ. If you look more closely at SEJ’s Web site at, you will see this relationship explained, as well as Virginia Tech’s list of other, including the City of Roanoke, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Smithfield Foods and Rainwater Management Solutions, among others.  SEJ’ s list of supporters this year includes The Roanoke Times, Animal Planet and Planet Green, the Hewlett Foundation, Turner Foundaion and Keith Campbel Foundation among others.  Many groups, businesses, industry trade associations, government agencies, publishers and others have written checks to SEJ in exchange for exhibit space at the conference and ads in the program booklet.

Dominion Power, American Electric Power and other Virginia Tech sponsors have no direct relationship with SEJ. Employees of these companies have absolutely no role in agenda planning for the conference. All SEJ programs are designed and led by member-volunteers, in this case conf. co-chairs Ken Ward Jr., environment reporter for the Charleston Gazette and Bill Kovarik, journalism professor forRadford University.  SEJ members choose all conference speakers and set all itineraries for reporting tours.

One final correction: SEJ expenses in 2007 came to $963,150  (audited figures). We rarely have more than four or five months operating funds in the bank at any given time. I wish we could be a multimillion dollar group, as we have a very important mission!  ”To advance public understanding of environmental issues by improving the quality accuracy and visibility of environmental news reporting.”  Indeed, I’ll have to get back to work on that=2 0goal!   But don’t hesitate to contact me for fact checking purposes in the future!  Accuracy is important to SEJ also.

By the way, there’s still time to register for the conference and all are welcome.  See for details.

Thanks.  Beth Parke, Executive Director, Society of Environmental Journalists


Thank you so much Beth Parke, I do feel like you have presented your case along with some good lessons in journalism. An improved analogy might be that of a track meet being held in a stadium that shows tobacco advertising. It may not be connected to the team, but they have to run below the sign. I am confident that when a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists covers the coal industry, they will work hard to ignore any imprints of the sign of coal. - RP

Kivalina Lawsuit links - many videos


For a quick overview of the case of Kivalina v Exxon et al, see:

Groundbreaking Lawsuit Accuses Big Oil Of Conspiracy To Deceive Public About Climate Change

Kivalina's causes of action:

* Kivalina is seeking monetary damages from defendants in a public nuisance action for defendant's contributions to global warming through emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases 

* Kivalina is also asserting claims seeking monetary damages for civil conspiracy and concert of action against certain defendants (primarily ExxonMobil) for participation in conspiratorial and other actions intended to suppress the knowledge of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, thereby furthering the defendants' abilities to contribute to global warming.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 1 - Inupiat Elders Speak Of Sea Ice:

Video 2 - Inupiat Elders Speak Of Sea Ice:

Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corporation, et al.(2008) Legal Complaint ... plaint.pdf

Kivalina, Alaska - wikipedia:,_Alaska

Inupiat - wikipedia:

Video - The Great Denial Machine:

Crime: Causing or risking catastrophe

This Pennsylvania law was designed to prevent a flood catastrophe.   Could it apply to the atmosphere?  Melting causes flooding.  Could any carbon energy company be complicit?darkdawncropss.jpg

The law, as I read it, is fairly direct and understandable

It reads:

3302. Causing or risking catastrophe.

    (a) Causing catastrophe.--A person who causes a catastrophe by explosion, fire, flood, avalanche, collapse of building, release of poison gas, radioactive material or other harmful or destructive force or substance, or by any other means of causing potentially widespread injury or damage, including selling, dealing in or otherwise providing licenses or permits to transport hazardous materials in violation of 75 Pa.C.S. Ch. 83 (relating to hazardous materials transportation), commits a felony of the first degree if he does so intentionally or knowingly, or a felony of the second degree if he does so recklessly.

    (b) Risking catastrophe.--A person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he recklessly creates a risk of catastrophe in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listing in subsection (a) of this section.

3303. Failure to prevent catastrophe.

    A person who knowingly or recklessly fails to take reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate a catastrophe, when he can do so without substantial risk to himself, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if:

       1. he knows that he is under an official, contractual or other legal duty to take such measures; or
       2. he did or assented to the act causing or threatening the catastrophe.


Unstoppable Arctic Melting

Time to make some serious decisions.

Arctic Melt May Signal Warming is "Unstoppable" Arctic Melting Shows Global Warming Serious - Expert, 

Sept. 4, 2008   OTTAWA - The incredibly rapid rate at which Canada's Arctic ice shelves are disappearing is an early indicator of the "very substantial changes" that global warming will impose on all mankind, a top scientist said on Wednesday.   Researchers announced late on Tuesday that the five ice shelves along Ellesmere Island in the Far North, which are more than 4,000 years old, had shrunk by 23 percent this summer alone.   

The largest shelf is disintegrating and one of the smaller shelves, covering 19 square miles (55 square km), broke away entirely last month.  ...

The Heat Is Online

Ross Gelbspan says that it is too late.

Beyond the Point of No Return

As the pace of global warming kicks into overdrive, the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world's most prominent climate scientists, are preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise.
The environmental establishment continues to peddle the notion that we can solve the climate problem.
We can't.
We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes.  These will happen either incrementally  or in sudden, abrupt jumps.
Under either scenario, it seems inevitable that we will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself.

Tiny Alaskan village of Kivalina vs. ExxonMobil

| 1 Comment

New UPDATE: On October 15, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Saundra B. Armstrong dismissed the lawsuit. On November 5, 2009, the City of Kivalina appealed Judge Armstrong’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On March 11, 2010, Kivalina’s team of lawyers filed the community’s opening brief. On September 15, 2010, we filed our response to the arguments of the oil, energy, and coal company defendants’ arguments. We expect oral argument in the summer of 2011.


Kivalina v. ExxonMobil
Very Little News Coverage Expected
Mass media, think tanks, PR firms could be un-named codefendants in a conspiracy to suppress global warming news and science.  So it is possible that mainstream news coverage of this story would be lacking.

It started in Alaska.  The small Native Village of Kivalina, damaged by rising waters storm surges - decided to sue 24 energy companies.  Their suit is starting to get plenty of attention. DemocracyNow interviews the plaintiff Attorney Stephen Susman. The case is now before the Federal Courts - the oil companies call this the “The Most Dangerous Litigation in America”

The Kivalina suit asks for $400 million in monetary damages.  Kivalina lawyers are filing a public nuisance action for “defendant’s contributions to global warming through emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases”

Perhaps just as important, the Kivalina suit charges fossil fuel companies with civil conspiracy “intended to suppress the knowledge of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, thereby furthering the defendants’ abilities to contribute to global warming.”  And they are asking for damages from un-named co-conspirators - that could be PR agencies, think-tanks or media outlets  —  any media with a big coal/oil relationship -  possibly even those who made and delivered advertising.

One legal analysis from an Oil Industry viewpoint summarizes the potential business exposure of this case:
“Every industry trade group, business association, and public policy organization that expresses any opinion, cites any scientific evidence, or dares to question the assumptions of the Al Gore-driven global warming model is part of the conspiracy.  As such, the company-defendants and the organizations are potentially liable.   Legally liable.  Subject to damage awards. Subject to court-ordered cease-and-desist orders. Subject to court-enforced silence.” - from

However this case resolves, it will set a huge precedent.   If sustained, then more cases will be filed leading to substantially halted CO2 output, or if not, then it will be no constraining CO2 output and the heat is on full blast.  Kivalina is just one of many new court cases addressing global warming directly.

Some climate science blogs are discussing denialism and the curious phenomenon of coordinated strident attacks and denial of global warming science.   The Kivalina suit may legally force the revelation that global warming denial is just a well-funded business tactic. And like the conspiracy to delay tobacco legislation, the energy industry conspiracy against science has been similarly effective.

By comparison, if we look to England, Mexico, Canada, Australia, even Japan - all are way ahead of the US in the public discussion and scientific acceptance of climate change.  The Kivalina suit may air the dirty secret: cultivating ignorance is just business.   Energy companies were working to avoid any constraints to their business.  Something they can do, unless the courts rule it a public nuissance.

Taken from the Kivalina v. ExxonMobil filing

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil filed complaint

The Conspiracy Defendants have engaged in agreements to participate in the intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming.  The Conspiracy Defendants participated and/or continue to participate in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming and to delay public awareness of the issue so that they could continue contributing to, maintaining and/or creating the nuisance without demands from the public that they change their behavior as a condition of further buying their products.  At all times the Conspiracy Defendants were concerned that the public would become concerned by global warming and that the growing concern would force a change in the Conspiracy Defendants behavior which would be costly.  Delaying these costs was the major objective of the conspiracies described herein.

270. The Conspiracy Defendants have committed overt acts in furtherance of their agreements.  The Conspiracy Defendants have participated in an agreement with each other to mislead the public with respect to the science of global warming, either individually or through their various industry fronts or trade associations, and have included overt acts that furtheredtheir intentional creation, contribution to and/or maintenance of a public nuisance, global warming…

Plaintiffs request that this Court:
1. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to, and maintaining a public nuisance;
2. Hold the Conspiracy Defendants jointly and severally liable for civil conspiracy;
3. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for concert of action;
4. Award monetary damages on the basis of joint and several liability according to proof;
5. Enter a declaratory judgment for such future monetary expenses and damages as may be incurred by Plaintiffs in connection with the nuisance of global warming;
6. Award attorneys fees;
7. Award costs and expenses; and
8. Award such other relief as this Court deems just and proper.


Some links for more information:

Readers Digest has a fine report on Kivalina, Alaska: A Melting Village

Marten article on Kivalina

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil suit as filed

One legal analysis of Kivalina v Exxon

Recent updated links - thanks go to

A filed motion to dismiss

Opposition to motion to dismiss

An oil company reply brief

Shell Oil reply-brief

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil


UPDATE: On October 15, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Saundra B. Armstrong dismissed the lawsuit. On November 5, 2009, the City of Kivalina appealed Judge Armstrong's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On March 11, 2010, Kivalina's team of lawyers filed the community's opening brief. On September 15, 2010, we filed our response to the arguments of the oil, energy, and coal company defendants' arguments. We expect oral argument in the summer of 2011. from:

A Federal Jury will decide.  The small Native Village of Kivalina, damaged by rising waters storm surges - file suit against the fossil fuel companies. The suit Kivalina v. ExxonMobil is getting plenty of attention in both industry and law circles.

Kivalina is seeking $400 million in monetary damages and damages for conspiring to suppress the knowledge of the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Read the Original Complaint