Saturday, June 4, 2016

Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act SB1161. What it really says.

The latest round of right-wing internet hysteria is over the California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016 (full text enclosed).  Right now they are celebrating a victory since State Senator James Monning withdrew the bill, though the bill had passed both the state Senate's environmental and judiciary committees.  What I've found more interesting than the merits or failing of SB1161, is the Right Wing Media's melodramatic misrepresentation of the bill.  Here's a sampling.

May 31, 2016 by California Political Review's Stephen Frank: "SB 1161: Makes Questioning “Climate Change” a Sue-able Offense. Criminal?" ~ June 3, 2016 Washington Examiner's Kyle Feldscher: "Calif. Senate backs away from bill criminalizing climate change doubt" ~ June 2, 2016 Washington Times' Valerie Richardson: "California Senate sidelines bill to prosecute climate change skeptics" to name but the three that I've read.

Marc Morano's June 3rd Climate Depot post sums up their mentality quite well via Kyle's puff piece, it reads:

June 3, 2016 Washington Examiner: "Marc Morano, a climate change doubter who runs Climate Depot, said the California bill is the logical end point of the debate between believers and doubters

(Morano) said those who believe in climate change have been trying for years to silence doubters and now, given the calls to investigate Exxon Mobil for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations and the California bill, there are attempts to actually charge people for their beliefs.

"You can't even question the predictions of 50-100 years from now or that's considered hate speech," (Morano) said. 

"That goes against everything this country was founded on." Morano said climate change believers want to delegitimize their critics instead of engaging in any sort of debate over the science. 

He said the bill proposed by Allen is another step in silencing dissent. "This is the language of religion, not science," (Morano) said.

Sounds quite frightening and extreme, but then I know a bit about this Morano character, a true master of malicious misinformation campaigns.  So I decided to look at California SB1161 myself.  Surprise, it's turns out to be nothing like how Morano represented it.  

Here we have yet another example of how the right-wing PR machine misrepresents issues from the gitgo, reframing everything to suit their own simplistic and painfully myopic storylines.  I mean they refuse to even listen to what's being said.  Instead they are busy constantly spinning their paranoid machinations about the bad greenies.

How can rational constructive adult dialogue exist if one side refuses to hear what the other is saying?  It's no wonder that our critically important Anthropogenic Global Warming education dialogue of the past decades has been such a tragic endless dog-chasing-tail squandering of precious time.  

Back to SB1161, let's look at what this bill actually says.  
In the following I've cut and pasted the full text. 
I have added underlines, bold and a couple paragraph breaks.  
Beyond that, I'll let SB1161 speak for itself. 

I'll take a closer look at Morano's Republican/libertarian rationale in subsequent post.


California Senate Bill No. 1161
Statutes of limitation: 
California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016.

Introduced by Senator Allen
(Coauthors: Senators Jackson and Leno)
February 18, 2016

An act to add Section 342.5 to the Code of Civil Procedure, relating to statutes of limitation.

(I have added the highlight, cc)

SB 1161, as amended, Allen. Statutes of limitation: California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016.

Existing law requires an action alleging unfair competition, as defined, to be commenced within 4 years after the cause of action accrued.

This bill would, for actions brought by the Attorney General or a district attorney, revive an action for unfair competition with respect to scientific evidence regarding the existence, extent, or current or future impacts of anthropogenic-induced climate change that is time barred as of January 1, 2017. and would authorize the action to be brought within 4 years of that date.


SECTION 1. This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016.

SEC. 2. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) There is broad scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming is occurring and changing the world’s climate patterns, and that the primary cause is the emission of greenhouse gases from the production and combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

(2) The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that the buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases results in impacts that include the following:
(A) Changing temperature and precipitation patterns.
(B) Increases in ocean temperatures, sea level, and acidity.
(C) Melting of glaciers and sea ice.
(D) Changes in the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events.
(E) Shifts in ecosystem characteristics, such as the length of the growing season, timing of flower blooms, and migration of birds.
(F) Increased threats to human health.

(3) Impacts and damages from emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change have been occurring for many years and will be felt from decades to centuries after those emissions have occurred. The USEPA states, “because many of the major greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of years after being released, their warming effects on the climate persist over a long time and can therefore affect both present and future generations.”

(4) Reports and documentation published by researchers, public interest nongovernmental organizations, and media in recent years show that some fossil fuel companies were aware by the late 1970s of scientific studies showing that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion pose significant risk of harmful global warming. The reports and documents also indicate that by the mid-1980s fossil fuel company scientists were confirming in internal documents intended for company management that emissions from fossil fuels were contributing significantly to climate change, and companies were factoring global warming into their own business investments.

(5) By 1988, the scientific evidence of climate change and the significant risks it poses was widely communicated to the public and was confirmed in congressional testimony by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In that year, the United Nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the federal National Energy Policy Act of 1988 (House Resolution 5380, 100th Congress) was introduced in Congress in an effort to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Because of the highly public dissemination of information, congressional discussion, and extensive media coverage of the robust scientific evidence of the risks of continued burning of fossil fuel products, major fossil fuel producers knew or should have known the risks of continued burning of their products by 1988.

(6) More than half of all industrial carbon emissions have been released since 1988, after the fossil fuel businesses knew of the harm their products might cause, and have substantially increased risks from climate change impacts to life, health, and property.

(7) Since at least 1989, published reports indicate that some of these same entities have put sustained and significant efforts and resources into creating public doubt on the science related to climate change caused by anthropogenic sources.

(8) Misleading and inaccurate information disseminated by organizations and representatives backed by fossil fuel companies, along with advertising and publicity casting doubt on scientific understanding of climate change, have led to confusion, disagreement, and unnecessary controversy over the causes of climate change and the effects of emissions of greenhouse gases. 

This type of misinformation, widely and broadly disseminated in the media, has long delayed public understanding of the risks of continuing to emit high levels of greenhouse gases, confused and polarized the public on the need to aggressively reduce emissions to limit risks from climate change, and increased damage to public safety, health, and property in California as well as nationally and globally.

(9) Scientific studies indicate that climate change impacts are occurring in California, causing significant damage to the economy, environment, and public health. In a 2013 report* on climate change indicators, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment found that California is already experiencing serious and measurable impacts from atmospheric warming in the state’s weather, water systems, high wildfire frequency and intensity, plant and animal species health, and human health and morbidity. 

(10) Climate change has been tied by scientists to the severity and intensity of the historically unprecedented and costly drought that California has been experiencing since 2011 that has resulted in communities running out of water, agricultural water cutbacks, and unprecedented groundwater use that has caused subsidence and a loss of storage capacity in the state’s critical aquifers.

(11) An independent bipartisan report, published in 2014, indicates that, by 2050, California will be suffering economic losses of tens of billions of dollars due to climate change-related impacts and that heat-related deaths could be twice the number of current traffic-related deaths annually by the late 21st century.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to retroactively revive and extend the statute of limitation for actions that may or may not be barred by the applicable statute of limitation existing before January 1, 2017, and that seek redress for unfair competition practices committed by entities that have deceived, confused, or misled the public on the risks of climate change or financially supported activities that have deceived, confused, or misled the public on those risks.

SEC. 3. Section 342.5 is added to the Code of Civil Procedure, to read:

342.5. (a) (1) Notwithstanding Section 17208 of the Business and Professions Code, an action pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17200) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code against a corporation, firm, partnership, joint stock company, association, or other organization of persons that has directly or indirectly engaged in unfair competition, as defined in Section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code, with respect to scientific evidence regarding the existence, extent, or current or future impacts of anthropogenic-induced climate change that would otherwise be barred as of January 1, 2017, solely because the statute of limitation has or had expired, is revived and, in that case, the action may be commenced within four years of January 1, 2017. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to alter the applicable limitation period of an action that is not time barred as of January 1, 2017.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to actions alleging claims described in paragraph (1) for which a final and nonappealable judgment has been rendered.

(b) This section applies only to actions brought by the Attorney General or a district attorney.

Perhaps it is a mute point, then again, it's important to understand the real arguments and intentions behind SB1161 - because the demand for NO MORE LIES is only going to get louder!

Five Reasons to Pass the Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act (SB 1161)

, Western states policy manager | March 29, 2016

Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?

Lawrence Torcello  |  March 13, 2014  |  The Conversation

I don't get much feedback on these WUWTW posts, but I believe this issue deserves some attention so I've started a thread over at my favorite online forum CFI  - maybe someone will engage in this important discussion, or should I call it "debate"?   Consider it neutral territory over there.  Come on down.  

Anyone want to debate SB1161 - the “Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act”?

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