Charleston SC Junk Climate Lawsuit

Guest “Go ahead, make my day…” by David Middleton

Charleston sues ‘Big Oil’ for flooding in SC Lowcountry caused by global warming
By Mikaela PorterSep 9, 2020 Updated Sep 11, 2020

The city of Charleston filed a lawsuit Wednesday in state court against two dozen major oil and pipeline companies, alleging their products and the spread of misinformation about fossil fuels have caused climate change and repetitive, disastrous flooding in the city.

The lawsuit demands those companies — some of the biggest names in the industry — pay for the cost of trying to keep the city dry. But it doesn’t specify a dollar amount. 

It was the second assault on the oil industry in two days. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced a moratorium on drilling off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

[…]

The Post and Courier

First “Assault” – The Moratorium

Firstly, President Trump did not impose a moratorium. A moratorium was already in place. The President extended it.

Secondly, the area of the extension (off the Atlantic coast) is the South Atlantic Planning Area…

Figure 1. U.S. Atlantic Assessment Units and Planning Areas (BOEM).

This is the Atlantic planning area with the least oil & gas potential.

Figure 2. Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Resources by Planning Area (BOEM).

I would have preferred that he not extend the moratorium… But the President doesn’t always do what I would want him to do. And, if an area of the Atlantic OCS had to remain closed, the South Atlantic was the right choice.

The first “assault” on the oil industry rates a Christoper Walken Award.

Figure 3. “YAWN!”

Second “Assault” – The Junk Lawsuit

The city of Charleston filed a lawsuit Wednesday in state court against two dozen major oil and pipeline companies, alleging their products and the spread of misinformation about fossil fuels have caused climate change and repetitive, disastrous flooding in the city.

The lawsuit demands those companies — some of the biggest names in the industry — pay for the cost of trying to keep the city dry. But it doesn’t specify a dollar amount. 

The Post and Courier

Form the junk lawsuit’s introduction:

Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate. They have known for decades that those impacts could be catastrophic and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible. They have nevertheless engaged in a coordinated, multifront effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats, discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence, and persistently create doubt in the minds of customers, consumers, regulators, the media, journalists, teachers, and the public about the reality and consequences of the impacts of their fossil fuel pollution.

Junk Lawsuit

“They have known for decades…”

This cartoon appears on page 62 of this, and nearly every other, junk climate lawsuit:

Figure 4. Exxon’s “Black” cartoon.

The exact same image, including the caption is in Delaware’s recent junk lawsuit. The graph is from what is known as the “Black presentation” and supposedly reveals Exxon’s secret knowledge of climate change, which was being withheld from the public. The “infamous” 1978 Black presentation was derived from government and academic publications and conferences on the so-called greenhouse effect.

Here’s what Exxon knew in 1978…

Figure 5. Exxon knew that most government and academic scientists wanted more research money.
Figure 6. There’s a lot of schist we didn’t know and still don’t know today.
Figure 6. In 1978, Exxon knew that the effects on sea level and the polar ice caps would likely be negligible, models were useless and more effort should be directed at paleoclimatology.

Black’s allegedly proprietary climate model was just a cartoon based on publicly available literature. I overlaid HadCRUT4 (Northern Hemisphere) on the Black cartoon:

Figure 7. What Exxon knew during “The Ice Age Cometh.”

If HadCRUT4 is right (it isn’t), it’s now only slightly warmer than the “approximate range of undisturbed climate in past few centuries.”  Just like the models of today, the observations track at or below the 95% confidence band.  Way back in 1977, Exxon Knew that the climate models overestimated warming!

What’s even funnier? The “Black presentation” was made during the height of That 70’s Climate Crisis Show. If the climate models are correct (they aren’t), ExxonMobil and other purveyors of fossil fuels saved the world from this:

Figure 8. The Climatariat tell us that temperature observations have followed the black curve and that the blue curve is what the temperatures would have done if we just agreed to freeze in the dark for the sake of Polar Bears. Modified after IPCC AR4

Just imagine the lawsuit if Exxon and all of the other purveyors of fossil fuels had stopped producing and selling fossil fuels back when they first learned “that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” and this actually occurred:

Figure 9. Science News March 1, 1975

“Repetitive, disastrous flooding in the city”

From page 2 of the junk lawsuit:

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas pollution, primarily in the form of CO2, is far and away the dominant cause of global warming, resulting in severe impacts including, but not limited to, sea level rise, disruption to the hydrologic cycle, more frequent and intense extreme precipitation events and associated flooding, more frequent and intense heatwaves, more frequent and intense droughts, and associated consequences of those physical and environmental changes.

Junk Lawsuit

The worst flooding in recent history was in 2015…

South Carolina Flood Frequency Q&A

In 2015, Dr. Robert Holmes, USGS National Flood Hazard Coordinator, took time to discuss some issues related to the flooding in South Carolina following the Appalachian Floods and Hurricane Joaquin.

[…]

Is this flood due to climate change?

USGS research has shown no linkage between flooding (either increases or decreases) and the increase in greenhouse gases. Essentially, from USGS long-term streamgage data for sites across the country with no regulation or other changes to the watershed that could influence the streamflow, the data shows no systematic increases in flooding through time.

A much bigger impact on flooding, though, is land use change. Without proper mitigation, urbanization of watersheds increases flooding. Moreover, encroachment into the floodplain by homes and businesses leads to greater economic losses and potential loss of life, with more encroachment leading to greater losses.

USGS

The USGS says that there is “no linkage between flooding (either increases or decreases) and the increase in greenhouse gases.” The Mark I human eyeball tells us that there is no linkage between the rate of sea level rise and the increase in greenhouse gases. There has been no change in the rate of sea level rise in Charleston over the past 120 years.

Figure 10. Charleston SC sea level trend (NOAA)
Figure 11. Charleston SC variations of 50-yr trends (NOAA).

Variations of the word, “flooding,” appear over thirty times in this junk lawsuit, mostly in terms of future speculation.

For instance, average sea level has already risen and will continue to rise substantially along Charleston’s coast, causing flooding, inundation, erosion, and beach loss; extreme weather, including hurricanes, drought, heatwaves, and other extreme events will become more frequent, longer-lasting and more severe…

Junk Lawsuit

Now… I’m not a lawyer, nor have I ever played a lawyer on TV… But, I don’t think speculation about future damages establishes “standing” in court.

Figure 12. Standing to sue (Morris & Bart)

But, then again, with the Climatariat and the lamestream media, model-based prognostications about the future are often regarded as established facts.

That said, flooding is a serious issue in Charleston and a rising sea level certainly won’t improve the situation. But, Charleston doesn’t flood *because* climate change.

JUNE 24, 2014
The History Behind Flooding in Charleston, South Carolina

For many the idea of sea level rise and its associated impacts are thought of as future events. But, here in Charleston it’s already a part of life. Coastal flooding is a major issue that the city faces. All it takes is just the right tide, or even worse, an extreme high tide paired with a torrential downpour during rush hour, and Charleston’s streets become fingers of the Atlantic Ocean that no car can ford. It’s not hard to fathom that these flooded streets will one day become creeks and marshes. And in many cases that is what they once were.

As far back as the 18th century, Charlestonians have made a practice of expanding the city’s footprint by filling creeks and marshes. Alfred O. Halsey’s Historic Charleston on a Map provides an amazing illustration of the change to the peninsula’s landscape (Preservation Society of Charleston [PSOC]). The map shows that many areas that frequently flood are atop man made land.

The aptly named Water Street in the South of Broad neighborhood was originally Vanderhorst Creek, until it was filled in 1792. Many are familiar with the images of kayakers paddling through the City Market after wayward bands from Hurricane Isaac flooded the city. This could have been a common sight if what was once Governor’s Creek wasn’t filled in to create Market Street in first decade of the 19th century. Both the Charleston Village and Cannonborough neighborhoods were filled in during the mid 1800s and both are notorious for their flood problems. The city has continued to alter the coastline as late as the 1960s. During this time, Lockwood Boulevard was constructed which resulted in cutting off the Charleston Municipal Yacht Basin from the Ashley River and converted it into a placid pond (Thompson 2013).

[…]

Geozone (NOAA Office for Coastal Management)

I put together a comparison of Halsey’s 1949 historical map (Preservation Society of Charleston) and an 1869 Charleston street map (University of Texas):

Figure 13. Charleston 1869 vs 1949. The red outline covers the same area on both maps.

Charleston floods because they built much of the city in the Atlantic Ocean. And… let’s not forget subsidence.

The Defense Rests

About the Author

David Middleton is a proud member of the “climate wrecking industry” since 1981. He has been a geophysicist/geologist in the oil & gas industry for just under 40 years, working for companies you probably have never heard of. He normally doesn’t speak of himself in the third person.

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September 14, 2020 at 08:08PM

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