Oil company blames Captain Planet for climate change in recent court filing

While the Exxon corporation might be the most infamous propagandist (read: liar) among the Big Oil companies when it comes to climate change, there are plenty of other guilty parties, too. Chevron, as the second largest US-based oil company after Exxon, has engaged in its own share of shady practices, especially when it comes to inherited liabilities for environmental destruction.

Most recently, Chevron was sued by the city and county of Honolulu and Maui County, which both claim that the company has a liability for the climate change-related damages they've endured. As E&E News' ClimateWire reported:

A federal appeals court last month sided with both Honolulu and Maui County, which has a separate lawsuit, ruling that their climate liability lawsuits against oil and gas companies should be heard in state court. The governments filed suit in 2020, accusing oil producers of concealing the risk to the climate of burning petroleum products.

Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters has called the lawsuit critical, noting the city faces "incredible costs to move critical infrastructure away from our coasts and out of flood zones, and the oil companies that deceived the public for decades should be the ones helping pick up the tab for those costs — not our taxpayers."


If the cases are successful, the oil and gas industry could be forced to pay billions of dollars for its contributions to climate change.

Naturally, Chevron asked the court to dismiss the suit, claiming in a recent filing that they could not possibly have any responsibility for misleading the public about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change, or the potential level of irreversible damages that their product was cause to the planet.

Their reasoning? Batman Returns and Captain Planet talked about global warming, and The New York Times and other major outlets have reported on the issue. Therefore, even if Chevron had embarked on a billion-dollar PR campaign with the explicit intentions of muddying public discourse in order to kneecap any potential environmental legislation that might interfere with their profits, they "clearly" weren't successful in their campaign, because a 1987 Calvin & Hobbes comic strip mentioned the Greenhouse Effect and melting polar ice caps one time.

I'm not kidding. Their actual words:

Plaintiffs' Complaint tries to construct a narrative that oil and gas companies had some unique knowledge about climate science and withheld it or misrepresented it in some way that impacted policy responses and consumer choices. That narrative is false.


Any allegation that the Chevron Defendants deceived or misled federal, state, or international regulators or the public at large about the potential impacts of increased greenhouse gases on the climate is belied by a historical record replete with public information, including scientific reporting, international, federal, and local policy discussions and lawmaking, and national and local media coverage. The vast and comprehensive study and discussion of climate change, as detailed below, clearly refutes Plaintiffs' allegations that the oil-and-gas industry had "secret" knowledge about the link between the combustion of fossil fuels and its impact on the global climate.

What follows is about 100 legal pages of references to climate change in pop culture over the last 50 years. It covers journalism from Time magazine and National Geographic to hyper-specific one-off throwaway dialogue heard in episodes of Cheers, Power Rangers, Captain Planet, ALF, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Beverly Hills 90210, as well as movies like Batman Returns.

You can read the filing yourself (part one)(part two) if you'd like. But fair warning: it's complete and utter bullshit.

Big Oil's new strategy in climate cases: Cite Captain Planet [Lesley Clark / E&E News ClimateWire]

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