Judge in California Suit against Oil Companies Orders Climate Tutorial


A federal judge in California last week ruled that a suit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco seeking climate damages from major oil companies would be heard in federal court instead of state court. This week Judge William Alsup invited counsel for both sides to present a five-hour tutorial on global warming and climate change in his court on March 21st.

Judge Alsup also told counsel that he wanted the tutorial to include answers to the following eight questions:

1.     What caused the various ice ages (including the ‘little ice ages’ and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they [sic] melted, by how much did sea level rise?

2.     What is the molecular difference by which carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?

3.     What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?

4.     Does carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?

5.     Apart from carbon dioxide, what happens to the collective heat from tailpipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere?

6.     In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale carbon dioxide but plants absorb carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of carbon dioxide back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of carbon dioxide?

7.     What are the main sources of carbon dioxide that account for the incremental buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

8.     What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?

The questions are somewhat naïve, but may provide a good start for the tutorial. On the other hand, the defendants in the case—the major oil companies—have made so many craven concessions to the alarmists on climate science that it seems likely that they will make a mess of their presentation.