Global warming to go on trial. : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

The following item can be read John Daly's site Still Waiting for Greenhous.

On 14th April, Western Fuels Association Inc., a Wyoming corporation, filed a commercial defamation lawsuit (Civil Action no.OOCV 074) in the US District Court of Wyoming against a coalition of defendants, namely `Turning Point Project', `Friends of the Earth', `Earth Island Institute', `Ozone Action Institute', `Rainforest Action Network', and `International Center for Technology Assessment'.

The claim is for commercial defamation under Section 43 of the Lanham Act (15 USC 1125), the plaintiffs, Western Fuels Inc. seeking an injunction and damages against the defendants for alleged false statements regarding the use and effects of coal for electricity generation.

The full lawsuit complaint here

This is the first time that the global warming doomsday predictions will be exposed to rigorous cross-examination, as the plaintiffs are alleging that the defendants are acting as well-financed agents for industrial donors acting in direct commercial competition with Western Fuels.

Commercial defamation occurs where one company, or their agents, uses false representations against a competitor in such a way as to damage the reputation, commercial standing, or products of that competitor.

Normal competition allows advertising to promote the positive aspects of one's product. It does not allow defamation to be used against a competitor as a means to gain a competitive advantage, not even indirectly via front organisations. Western Fuels allege that since their competitors are giving large financial donations to support organisations hostile to the use of fossil fuels, specifially coal for electricity generation, then statements made by these organisations which can be shown to be false in court, would be held to be commercially defamatory.

It will be interesting to see if the defendants can secure the participation of high-profile scientists active in the Greenhouse industry as witnesses in their case. If they do, those witnesses will find themselves exposed to the rigours of public cross-examination for the first time since the global warming scare began. Their theories, models, and doomsday predictions will have to hold up in a court of law, not just in compliant journals and sections of the media.

-- Malcolm Taylor (, May 03, 2000



Should be a very interesting and important case. Thanks for calling attention to it. I seriously doubt it will get the media attention it deserves. After all, global warming is a proven fact in the mealy minds of the masses, don'cha'know.



-- Pinkrock (, May 03, 2000.

Thanks, Malcolm,

I will be following this with great interest, even if I have to do it on John Daly's site. Which urges this question:

I enjoy debating global warming with you because, through many of your statements ancillary to the core issue, you have established environmental credibility with me. That, and your serious respectful tone of voice. These elements of ethos are mostly lacking from the body of skeptical rhetoric.

Daly's and others skeptics' sarcastic condescending tone, combined with their lack of original research and fact-finding, does not enhance the credibility of their argument. They remind me of nothing so much as the strident "nyea nyea" pusilanimous pronouncements of the Y2K Pro Chicken debunker element that so infuriated even those of us holding more moderate positions in the Y2K debate.

Compare that with the generalized "scientific" presentations of the likes of the IIPC, Wood's Hole, Scripps, NOAA and other serious research institutions--those actually doing the work. Their's more often takes the general form of: "We have found thus and so which may support a certain conclusion within a specified margin of error. We'll know more after further investigation." This attitude of humility and respect for other viewpoints is more typical of serious scientific debate, thus enhancing credibility even in the face of disputed facts and varying interpretations.

Now, the press is always going to go for the bleeding drama of it all, until told to back off by their corporate sponsors. And, yes, people concerned with the Earth do in fact have an agenda--it's called wanting to leave some for the kids. This does not excuse blatant obfuscation and adumbration, but one might understand their attitude as less selfish than the current Western/lassez faire paradigm.

Of course, silly conspiratorial paranoid reflections--"The IlluMasonBergers are out to kill and enslave us."--are never seen even on the most strident skeptic's websites. This particular abberation seems to be peculiar to this forum, and defies even the most elementary logic, as I'm sure you will agree.


"Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know." ---M. King Hubbert

-- (, May 03, 2000.

Let's not confuse legal proof with scientific proof here.

Science and law operate according to different principles.

Legal cases are not conducted according to the scientific method, with testable hypotheses, control cases, double-blind studies, and so on. (There may be scientific testimony or evidence in a case, but the legal structure of the case itself is not constrained by the scientific method.)

Scientific inquiry and conclusions are not ruled by constitutional rights, statutes of limitations, corporate law, presumption of innocence, and so on.

No matter what the results of Civil Action no.OOCV 074 in the US District Court of Wyoming, they will not include any new scientific finding about global warming theories. There may be scientific findings introduced as evidence or testimony, but these will have been independently derived, not developed in or by the legal case itself. This applies to both pros and cons of any theory.

Let me introduce a personal example.

A few years ago, a doctor made a series of mistakes in diagnosing and treating me, resulting in some damage. He made false statements about me to other people. When I consulted two attorneys, they both said that without physical evidence I had no chance of being believed in court -- the doctor's word would almost certainly be uniformly believed over mine.

Fortunately, I _did_ have physical evidence to support what I said and demonstrate the falsity of the doctor's diagnosis and statements about me. Both attorneys agreed that my evidence was enough to "prevail in court".

Did I file a malpractice suit? No, because both attorneys agreed that my out-of-pocket cost of persuing the case all the way to court would greatly exceed the maximum award I could receive if I won the malpractice suit, due to the combination of state laws and particular circumstances of my case. And, at that time, I could not afford to pay that extra cost in order to get the satisfaction of seeing the doctor convicted of malpractice.

Now, suppose that I had filed suit and it had gone to trial. Without my physical evidence, I would surely have lost. Perhaps the doctor might even have alleged that I had defamed him.

Would that legal loss mean that anyone had proved that the doctor had made a correct diagnosis, applied appropriate treatment, and spoken the truth about me?


The outcome of that trial would not have meant anything about the underlying facts of what actually happened. All it would have determined would have been about the relative legal merits of the evidence that I and the doctor had brought to the trial, combined with the relative legal skills of our respective attorneys.

But if I _had_ introduced my physical evidence in the trial, it should have shown conclusively that the central supposition of the doctor in making the diagnosis, deciding upon the treatment, and communicating about me to others had been false. And I should have won the trial, been awarded a certain amount of money, and had the satisfaction of seeing the doctor's malpractice conviction go on public record.

But that wouldn't have proved that the doctor had made an incorrect diagnosis, applied inappropriate treatment, and falsely spoken about me, not in the scientific sense of proof. I would not yet have accumulated nearly enough evidence to constitute an overall scientific proof.

I wrote "should" a couple of paragraphs ago because the trial outcome would also have depended on the legal skills of our attorneys. Had mine been particularly inept, he could have lost the case despite the presence of what should have been clinching evidence. Would _that_ have determined anything about the underlying truth of my experience with the doctor?


So neither winning the legal case nor losing the legal case would have meant anything about the scientific merits of what, objectively speaking, had actually happened in my doctor's conduct.

If I accidentally misplaced my physical evidence and could not find it before the trial, I lose. When I later find the evidence, nothing has changed about whether the doctor's conduct was incorrect. Did my temporary lapse of memory change the merits of my scientific case? No. But it lost me the legal case.

-- No Spam Please (, May 03, 2000.

Oh yes -- I'm also reminded of a favorite tactic of some creationists: the public debate.

Back in the 1970s (how common this is now, I don't know), certain advocates of creationism loved to challenge evolutionists to public debates at vaious universities. Those debates would be run according to the standard rules of debating, of course. Those creationism advocates were skilled debaters; not all of their evolutionist opponents were. The creationists loved to present the results of these debates (i.e., selected quotes and votes on who won) as evidence of the correctness of creationism.

MAny of the arguments for creationism are simple to state, but tedious to disprove. Some of the most persuasive evidence for evolution is complicated. When each side gets 30 minutes, who'll usually have the debating advantage? Riiiight -- the creationists.

Does the winner of such a debate necessarily have the predominance of scientific evidence supporting his position, _if_ one has time to carefully examine the whole of the evidence? Not necessarily, I hope you agree.

-- No Spam Please (, May 03, 2000.

Chemical industry used the nuclear boys for a distraction for a long time. Have a chemical disaster, donate a pile to the anti-nuke idiots. Turns the BIG NEWS about Bhopal or whatever into old news in a hurry. Coal did the same thing. Bunch of documentaries about the strip mined lands, or the acid runoff, suddenly the anti nuke nuts would be piling out in full force, chaining themselves to fences and sueing everyone in sight.

They pretty well killed off nuclear power, so now they use GLOBAL WARMING as a distraction. HMMM - NOW JUST WHO OR WHAT WAS IN THE NEWS IN A BAD LIGHT JUST BEFORE EACH OF THE GLOBAL WARMING FURORS?

Wonder who invented this opposite of a whispering campaign?

-- HA (HA@HA.COM), May 03, 2000.



If this is a rhetorical question, will you please enlighten us as to the answer?

If it isn't, then I'm not sure what your point is. After all, some of the global warming "furors" I've seen have been initiated by the pro-global-warming (a gross simplification, of course) side, and some have been initiated by the anti-global-warming (ditto) side. So it isn't cleat to me that just one side or the other has been consistently the impetus behind the furors, unlike the implication of the chemical/coal/nuclear examples you give prior to your question.

So, what's the answer to your question, or what's the point? Inquiring minds want to know.

-- No Spam Please (, May 04, 2000.

Here are some interesting links on various topics that pertain to the above discussions:

In the above pay attention to the debate on renewables.

It's a lot of reading but very informative and interesting.

-- The Engineer (, May 04, 2000.

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