Dr. Will Happer, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Princeton University: 'Aside from the human brain, the climate is the most complex thing on the planet. The number of factors that influence climate—the sun, the earth’s orbital properties, oceans, clouds, and, yes, industrial man—is huge and enormously variable. For the purposes of illustration, let’s just focus our attention on water. The earth is essentially a water planet. A major aspect of climate involves the complicated interaction between two very turbulent fluids: the atmosphere, which holds large amounts of water (think rain and snow), and the oceans, which cover fully 70% of the earth’s surface. We can’t predict what effect the atmosphere is going to have on future temperatures because we can’t predict cloud formations. And the convection of heat, oxygen, salt and other quantities that pass through the oceans, not to mention weather cycles like El Niño in the tropical Pacific, make predicting ocean temperatures an equally difficult business. We can’t predict either side of the atmosphere/ocean equation. But we can say this with certainty: Water—in all its phases—has huge effects on atmospheric heating and cooling. Compared to water—H20, carbon dioxide—CO2—is a minor contributor to the warming of the earth.'
Happer: 'So, if they want to show that the earth’s temperature at the end of the century will be two degrees centigrade higher than it is now, they put in the numbers that produce that result. That’s not science. That’s science fiction.'
Michael Burger, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Burger says he’s skeptical the lawsuits will succeed, because of the political nature of the topic and because it’ll be legally difficult to trace precise amounts of causation and blame to the oil industry, let alone particular companies. Showing causation and blame was much more concrete with cigarette companies. “I think these are very tough cases to win,” Burger said.