Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford: ‘Unlike every other branch of climate science or science in general, event attribution was actually originally suggested with the courts in mind."
In fact, Otto herself has relied on climate attribution work to support climate lawsuits as a 2019 E&E News story mentions: “Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford and lead scientist at the World Weather Attribution project, said she talks ‘a lot with lawyers’ about how attribution science could be used as a litigation tool.” ... Otto also signed onto a motion in support of San Francisco and Oakland’s climate lawsuit and the E&E News article mentions that she works with Myles Allen, another climate academic at Oxford, who, the publication notes, “authored what is widely considered the first attribution study on the 2003 European heatwave,” and he wrote an op-ed that same year linking attribution science and lawsuits.
BY WILLIAM ALLISON
A prominent academic with direct ties to the climate litigation campaign confirmed in a recent E&E News article that so-called “climate attribution science” was designed specifically to support lawsuits against major energy companies.
The comments undercut the credibility or objectivity of its proponents, including Peter Frumhoff of the Union Concerned Scientist who has been delivering different messages to public and private audiences about the use of attribution science.
Climate litigation supporters have claimed that attribution science should serve as objective evidence in lawsuits against major energy companies, as it purportedly links a specific amount of greenhouse gas emissions to specific operators, thus providing an avenue by which a court could assign damages to companies.
Yet, as University of Oxford climate expert and litigation supporter Friederike Otto told E&E News, attribution science was created solely to bolster these lawsuits. As the article notes:
“But Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford who has worked with [Myles] Allen, said her efforts to link extreme weather events to climate change have always been tied to the possibility of legal action.
” ‘Unlike every other branch of climate science or science in general, event attribution was actually originally suggested with the courts in mind,’ she said.” (emphasis added)
This stunning admission from Otto undercuts any claim that attribution science should be viewed as a neutral or objective resource by courts of law or policymakers.
In fact, Otto herself has relied on climate attribution work to support climate lawsuits as a 2019 E&E News story mentions:
“Friederike Otto, a climate expert at the University of Oxford and lead scientist at the World Weather Attribution project, said she talks ‘a lot with lawyers’ about how attribution science could be used as a litigation tool.” (emphasis added)
Otto also signed onto a motion in support of San Francisco and Oakland’s climate lawsuit and the E&E News article mentions that she works with Myles Allen, another climate academic at Oxford, who, the publication notes, “authored what is widely considered the first attribution study on the 2003 European heatwave,” and he wrote an op-ed that same year linking attribution science and lawsuits.
Nor is this the first time that supporters of climate litigation have cited the need for attribution science to bolster their lawsuits like plaintiffs’ attorney Vic Sher did in 2017.
Different Audiences, Different Messages
For years, Peter Frumhoff, a key player in the climate litigation campaign, has been working behind the scenes for years to push attribution research forward in the hopes it could be used for litigation.
But in the most recent E&E News story, he stated the exact opposite to a public audience.
“In an interview with E&E News, Frumhoff rejected the notion that his work was designed to help local challengers in the climate liability lawsuits…‘The research we’ve done and published on attribution has definitely not been motivated by any specific piece of litigation or to inform any specific piece of litigation,’ Frumhoff said.” (emphasis added)
It runs counter to everything Frumhoff has said to fellow activists in the past as they have made this research central to the efforts to promote climate litigation for nearly a decade.
In 2012, he and the Union of Concerned Scientists helped organize the La Jolla conference, where the playbook for the entire climate litigation campaign was designed, which included discussion on the attribution research done by Richard Heede, the leader of the Climate Accountability Institute.
Heede is one of the preeminent persons working in the attribution space and his “Carbon Majors” report was highlighted in the E&E News article and has received extensive media attention.
The summary document from the La Jolla conference showed that Matt Pawa – a plaintiffs’ attorney who has served as outside counsel in multiple climate cases – believed that attribution research would aid litigation:
“Most of the workshop’s participants responded positively to Heede’s research. Matt Pawa thought the information could prove quite useful in helping to establish joint and several liability in tort cases, but he cautioned that, in practice, a judge would likely hesitate to exert joint and several liability against a carbon-producing company if the lion’s share of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could not be attributed to that company specifically.
“Nevertheless, he said this kind of accounting would no doubt inspire more litigation that could have a powerful effect in beginning to change corporate behavior.” (emphasis added)
That document concludes with a clear message about the use of attribution science:
“Several participants agreed to work together on some of the attribution work already under way…and build an advocacy component around those findings.”
In 2015, Frumhoff told Dr. Edward Maibach, who leads GMU’s Center for Climate Change Communication, in an email that “we’re also in the process of exploring other state-based approaches to holding fossil fuel companies legally accountable—we think there’ll likely be a strong basis for encouraging state (e.g. AG) action forward.”
The next year, Frumhoff secretly briefed a group of state attorneys general that were pursuing climate lawsuits against major energy companies, and the next year, co-wrote an op-ed in The Guardian touting his own attribution science. Part of the piece reads:
“As scientists further identify the role that climate change has made to exacerbating this tragedy, courts of law and public opinion should judge whether they are paying their fair share.”
Frumhoff has a well-established history of touting attribution science and supporting climate litigation. For him to now claim in 2021 that the research wasn’t designed to bolster the lawsuits shows that he has different messages for public and private audiences.
The Biased Nature of Attribution Science
Otto’s statement in E&E News is further confirmation that attribution science was created to support climate litigation, as Roger Pielke Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado’s Center for Science & Technology Policy Research, explained:
“Climate event attribution research as stealth advocacy … So-called event attribution studies are perfectly legitimate but should be held to the same level of rigor as any other area of research.
“Deploying them as a basis to file lawsuits or influence policymaking only underscores the need for such rigor.” (emphasis added)
Pielke Jr., who has written about climate change and the need for viable solutions, but sees how attribution science can easily be corrupted, certainly seems to be on to something.
One of the biggest names behind attribution science is Richard Heede and his research was funded by the Rockefeller network, which has manufactured the entire climate litigation campaign.
He co-founded the Climate Accountability Institute, which was also an organizer of the La Jolla conference, and where Pawa previously served on the board of directors and Frumhoff is on the board of advisors.
Other past and current CAI directors and advisors are noted climate litigation supporters including Naomi Oreskes and Carroll Muffett.
Heede’s “Carbon Majors” report plainly stated its purpose was to hold energy companies “legally responsible” and to support litigation:
“In particular I want to thank Peter Frumhoff, who has been the champion not only of the database but of its scientific value to climate modelers, analysts, climate leaders and policy experts, as well as to litigators in pursuit of climate justice and the protection of human rights.” (emphasis added)
In 2019, Heede worked with The Guardian to publish a series on climate change and lawsuits, which included an op-ed where he stated that he is working to undermine the energy industry:
“The Climate Accountability Institute was formed in 2011 to confront fossil fuel companies. … We work with investigators, human rights commissioners, advocates and lawyers in an effort to curb the carbon industry’s enthusiasm for unabated fossil fuel development.” (emphasis added)
Nor is Pawa the only plaintiffs’ attorney to pursue attribution science to support climate litigation.
Vic Sher, a partner at Sher Edling LLP, which is representing the majority of the states and municipalities that have brought climate lawsuits against energy producers, said in 2017 he has worked with Heede to further develop attribution science in order to help strengthen his own cases.
Even Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson decided to hold off on filing a climate lawsuit because his office was concerned such a case would falter without attribution.
So, when Otto says that “attribution was actually originally suggested with the courts in mind,” then she should be believed, as all the evidence backs up that claim.
Read more at EID Climate
Pielke Jr.: Three Rules For Accepting Climate Extreme Weather ‘Event Attribution’ Studies
Rule Number One: Any model used in an event attribution study to quantify a linkage (weasel word) between climate change a specific extreme event should also produce accurate historical climate trends associated with the relevant phenomena. The claim that rainfall from Hurricane Florence was boosted 50% by climate change should have raised immediate doubts because observations have not shown an increase in rainfall related to landfalling hurricanes. Any event attribution study that cannot accurately replicate historical trends using the same model and methods is clearly fatally flawed…
Rule Number Two: All event attribution studies should be preregistered, which means “committing to analytic steps without advance knowledge of the research outcomes.” All methodological choices should be made transparent in advance of any event attribution study and submitted to an independent registry…
Rule Number Three: All event attribution studies should integrate their findings with the traditional approach to detection and attribution of the IPCC. Event attribution studies often result is what is called “attribution without detection.”…
Individual event attribution studies are here to stay. They fill a strong demand in advocacy and in politics. Meeting such demand should be fully compatible with basic standards of scientific quality. For event attribution studies to be conducted with the highest degree of rigor they should (1) demonstrate consistency with historical observations, (2) be the product of preregistered studies, and (3) be fully integrated with the conventional methodologies of the IPCC. Until event attribution studies meet these basic rules, they will better serve purposes of advocacy rather than science.
Climate Skeptics turn tables on ‘attribution’ studies – Ask: Is ‘global warming’ causing a decrease in ‘extreme weather’ events?
‘We never hear the absence of extreme weather analysed.’ Is ‘global warming’ causing less ‘extreme weather?!’
How Do They Explain ‘The Extreme Weather Events That Did Not Happen’
Here are the key facts via climate analyst Paul Homewood:
‘US land falling hurricanes have been at record low levels in recent years, and it is now more than ten years since a major hurricane hit.’
‘There has been a long-term decline in both the number of tornadoes, and particularly, the frequency of stronger ones.’
‘Droughts were much more commonplace, prolonged and severe prior to the 1970s.’
‘There is no indication of precipitation becoming more extreme. The wettest year was 1973.’
‘There has been a marked absence of extreme heatwaves in recent years, and nothing approaches the run of intensely hot summers in the 1930s.’
‘Climate has no internal variability,’ Michael Mann & Co. claim – Dr. Judith Curry is unimpressed: ‘Wow. In one fell swoop…debates over attribution of 20th century warming…all go away. Brilliant! Almost as ‘brilliant’ as Hockey Stick’
Climate event attribution research being used as stealth advocacy – ‘Can be used to help people sue greenhouse gas emitters’ & getting govt’s ‘to start changing their policies’
Science philosopher Karl Popper debunks AGW attribution: Science ‘must be falsifiable; & in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality’
“It seems like nowadays just about every meteorological phenomenon is a result of global warming. Whether it be temperatures, temperatures, , earthquakes or even , climate change is always the answer, and the majority of these conclusions are drawn with sparing evidence, if any. Meanwhile, any skepticism or dissenting opinion regarding these countless studies is dismissed as unscientific, when in reality, it is quite the opposite.” ….
In its simplest sense, science is the formulation of hypotheses and the evaluation of said hypotheses through observation, experimentation or a mixture of both. What distinguishes science from pseudoscience, though, is whether or not these hypotheses can be disproven as well as proven, a trait known as falsifiability. According to , one of the most influential philosophers of science in the past millennium, “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.” In context, the field of astrology — the study of the divine effect of the positions of celestial bodies on our lives — is pseudoscience because it violates this rule.
New studies & data reveal ‘global warming’ NOT behind California drought – Not ‘unprecedented’ – 1970’s droughts blamed on ‘global cooling’
AMS Journal study finds California drought is ‘not unprecedented’ over past 440 years: 9 other droughts as bad or worse
E&E News on 2012 U.S. drought: ‘For the scientists who take the long view of history, it’s merely a climatological blip’ — 1930s ‘Dust Bowl & 1988 both eclipse 2012 drought, scientists say’
NOAA Study: Causes of Calif. drought are natural, not man-made
Flashback 1976: Climatologists Blamed California Drought On ‘Global Cooling’ – ‘In 1976, climatologists said that that global cooling caused drought and fires in California, and produced catastrophic erratic weather globally.’
Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. Answers AP’s Seth Borenstein’s questions on Typhoon Hiayan: ‘The scientific evidence does not presently support claims of attribution of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on tropical cyclone behavior with respect to century-long trends ‘much less the behavior of individual storms’
Pielke Jr.: “In practical terms, on timescales of decision making a signal that cannot be seen is indistinguishable from a signal that does not exist”
Pielke Jr. On ‘unsupportable quotes’ from Mann, Francis & Masters: ‘Of course, there are scientists willing to go beyond what can be supported empirically to make claims at odds with the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject — e.g., [Michael] Mann, [Jennifer] Francis, [Jeff] Masters are always good for inscrutable and unsupportable quotes.’
Sea Level: ‘Sea level rise is inexorable and relatively slow in comparison to the surges associated with tropical cyclones…It is not possible to identify a ‘sea level rise’ signal in historical normalized losses from tropical cyclones, and of course, not a GHG-driven sea-level rise signal. More generally, when we are talking about 5 meter storm surges, I am not convinced that 3 mm/year of sea level rise is a big issue in the magnitude of disaster losses (because building and adaptation along the coast is continuous and in the context of where the sea is presently)’
‘Overall, globally and over decades, disasters from weather events are resulting in lower damages per unit of GDP and less loss of life.’
Monckton rips AP’s Seth Borenstein for touting UN IPCC’s meaningless 95% confidence in man-made global warming: Monckton: It is ‘no more scientific a process than a show of hands’
Monckton to Borenstein: ‘The IPCC’s pretence that it is 95% confident that most of the warming since 1950 was manmade is transparently rent-seeking guesswork, to which no intelligent journalist should lend the slightest credence…The IPCC’s attempt to assign a quantified statistical confidence interval to a non-statistical process was inappropriate and, mathematically speaking, contemptible’ — The sheer dumbness of the IPCC’s approach should at least be questioned by journalists, not merely paraded as though it were some sort of Gospel truth…Surely it would be better to start asking real questions than merely to parrot uncritically the innumerate absurdities of a politicized clique of profiteers of doom in the scientific establishment. Time to raise your game.’
AP’s Borenstein wrote glowingly about the UN IPCC’s 95% confidence in man-made global warming, but failed to tell his readers that the number was made up out of thin air. ‘