Climate change, as any non-politically inclined geologist will tell you, is a naturally occurring phenomena of a living planet Earth. The climate has changed and relative sea levels risen and fallen for millennia. Strangely enough, these geological climate changes and sea level movements have shown no correlation with CO2 content of the atmosphere. Yet, this fact is simply ignored in the political and increasingly populist, crusade against fossil fuels. Today, more lunacy from those that subscribe to the idea that minute amounts of CO2 added to the atmosphere are causing well, the same sort of changing climate this planet has always experienced. Yes, city governments are suing big oil for damages for their role in the vary natural phenomena of rising sea levels (if in fact, sea levels are rising at all). A Reuters story posted to CTRMCenter this morning states – New York City announced on Wednesday that it filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five top oil companies, citing their “contributions to global warming,” as it said it would divest fossil fuel investments from its $189 billion public pension funds over the next five years. The lawsuit, against BP Plc, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, follows similar lawsuits filed last year by San Francisco and other California cities seeking billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels due to climate impacts.
I suppose in the US, many law firms are licking their lips at such fun – being able to sue big oil for billions of dollars. However, I take the view that this is legal frivolity at its worst. I understand that some people will disagree with my opinions on climate change and are entirely within their rights to do so but, we must consider that oil isn’t just about fuel. Many people really are quite ignorant of the benefits of oil and it stuns and saddens me that they do not realize that it is what our entire society is based on. Consider the clothing you are wearing reading this? The chair you sit in? The car or train that got you to the office? Consider the drugs that you are taking to ease whatever condition or illness you may have? By destroying oil, we destroy our entire way of life. I note that many public institutions are also removing oil investments from their portfolios. That makes great financial sense given the dividends these companies throw off. If I were a pensioner in New York, I’d consider suing them for stymying my pension fund returns.
Even if manmade CO2 does indeed contribute to climate change, how do these lawsuits and divestments actually help? The responsibility for managing our environment starts with us individually and then passes up to the City and Region. To me, these lawsuits are opportunistic and demonstrate a lack of responsibility on the part of those engaging in such action. In the end, they will damage us all as we will simply have to cover the costs of any damages awarded via increased costs of all goods that are derived from oil – pretty much everything you can think of.