Why a Big Oil Row Tells Us It’s Time to Stop Fetishising Experts

Something extraordinary and largely unreported has just happened in a court in San Francisco. A federal judge has said that there is no Big Oil conspiracy to conceal the truth about climate change. In fact, Judge William Alsup — a Clinton appointment, so he can hardly be accused of right-wing bias — was really quite snarky with the plaintiffs who claimed there was such a conspiracy.

The case was brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, which have taken it upon themselves to sue the five big western oil majors — Chevron, ExxonMobil, Conoco-Phillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell — for allegedly engaging in a Big Tobacco-style cover-up to conceal the harm of their products. Apparently Big Oil knew about the dangers of man-made global warming but went on drilling anyway. So now the two Californian cities are trying to claim billions of dollars in damages to compensate them for all the walls and dykes and so on they’ll have to build to cope with rising sea levels.

Nice try. But so far Judge Alsup hasn’t been impressed. He said he had been expecting the plaintiffs to reveal ‘a conspiratorial document’ which proved that the defendants ‘knew good and well that global warming was right around the corner.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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