Climate Change Misinformation Wins in Montana

In Montana “Climate Kids” Lawsuit, Climate Change Misinformation Wins 

By Gregory Wrightstone

A group of young people in Montana won a landmark lawsuit on August 14, when a judge ruled as unconstitutional the state’s failure to consider climate change when approving fossil fuel projects. The judge accepted as fact allegations made by plaintiffs in the suit, which we will systematically show to be patently false.

Just some of the catastrophes accepted as fact by the judge included:

  • More heat waves and extreme summer heat
  • Days above 90 degrees increased by 20 days between 1970 and 2015
  • Increased drought and lower precipitation

We will soon have a complete rebuttal to the Montana lawsuit. First, the plaintiffs cherry-picked the time frame of 1970 to 2015 to select days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit when the full data show that there has been no discernible trend since the 1920s. In fact, the period between 1920-40 looks remarkably similar to the most recent several decades.

Increasing drought and lack of precipitation? That isn’t what the data show.

According to Judge Kathy Seeley of Montana District Court, Montana is a “major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.” She added that the state’s emissions “have been proven to be a substantial factor” in affecting the climate. Is that the case?

Montana’s CO2 emissions are 0.6% of the total U.S. emissions. If Montana had gone to zero emissions of CO2 in 2010, it would only avert 0.0004 degree Fahrenheit of greenhouse warming by 2050 and 0.001 degree by 2100, according to the MAGICC simulator, a tool created by a consortium of climate research institutes including the The National Center for Atmospheric Research. These numbers are far below our ability to even measure and certainly not the “substantial factor” as claimed.

Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist; executive director of the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, VA; and author of Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn’t Want You to Know.

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