As more communities sue oil majors following climate disasters, a collection of evidence reveals the industry’s efforts to deny the link between extreme weather and climate change.

When Bucks County, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit last week against major oil and gas companies for climate damages, Commissioner Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia pointed to “unprecedented weather events here in Bucks County that have repeatedly put residents and first responders in harm’s way, damaged public and private property and placed undue strain on our infrastructure.” The county argues oil companies’ “campaigns to deceive and mislead the public about the damaging nature of their fossil fuel products” delayed climate action for decades, robbing communities of precious time to mitigate the climate-driven disasters they now face.

One of those disasters occurred last year, when a rainstorm in Bucks County caused deadly flash flooding that swallowed vehicles and killed 7 people, including two children. Scientists said the deluge and its aftermath — not the county's first "100-year flood" in recent years — are a harbinger of the intense and dangerous rainstorms that a warming climate is making more likely.

As the science connecting climate change to more frequent and severe weather events becomes clearer, there is mounting evidence that members of the fossil fuel industry coordinated to downplay that link — evidence that could be valuable to lawsuits seeking accountability. 

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