Here come the lawyers. There is an excellent recent Business Week article entitled “Global Warming: Here Come the Lawyers” that summarizes the impending wave of global warming lawsuits. Did global warming cause hurricane Katrina to devastate New Orleans? If you think the answer is yes, then naturally, it’s time to sue the oil companies and their fellow travelers.
There are several problems with this. We really aren’t convinced industrial greenhouse gas is the cause of global warming, and even if it is, we are extremely skeptical that anything effective can be done about it. Read our many global warming commentaries before deciding to jump on the bandwagon. Or read our feature stories “Climate Catastrophe?” and “Global Warming Facts.” authored by noted global warming skeptic, Dr. Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric scientist at MIT. Are we going spend trillions of dollars, curtail important freedoms, and pressure other nations to the brink of war – to fight a problem that may not exist?
|The Amazon Rainforest|
Here are some points we’ve raised in our reports on global warming: Human industry only accounts for 3% of CO2 emissions on the planet. Deforestation, which has consumed 40% of the world’s forests, combined with desertification, has reduced the planet’s ability to absorb CO2 at the same time as it has created hotter global surface temperatures. Urban “heat islands” also contribute to global warming. Instead of countering this by replanting forests and urban trees, we are now accelerating deforestation to plant “carbon neutral” biofuel plantations (read “Deforestation Diesel”). This is a disaster, and must be challenged.
Here’s more: Global warming models predict that most of the effect of increased levels of CO2 has already happened. Ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica is being offset by increased snowfall in the interior of those land masses. Projected ice melt from Greenland will increase sea levels by only 1.5 inches per century. All measured warming over the past 150 years is only about .5 centigrade, and this amount of change does not exceed statistical margins for error and cannot yet be scientifically considered a trend. The only scientific consensus that currently exists is that there has been slight climate warming over the past 100 years, not that this is an alarming trend, nor that increased levels of CO2 are the cause.
A further concern we have is that many proponents of action to stop greenhouse gas emissions are under the mistaken impression that by doing this we will eliminate air pollution. If California’s Global Warming Bill is any indication, this is completely false. As we report in “Filthy Air With Less CO2,” California’s 2006 Assembly Bill 32, hailed by environmentalists and politicians all over the world, mandates modest reductions in California’s CO2 emissions, but mandates absolutely nothing in terms of reducing emissions of actual pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, microscopic particulates, lead, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide. This is unacceptable.
We’re not going to indulge in the predictable lawyer-bashing that one regularly finds in the business press. Sometimes the courts are the only place left to find justice, and in America the justice system forms an essential check on the power of the legislative and executive branches of government. But for elected officials to abuse the legal process is worthy of criticism. California’s outgoing Attorney General, Bill Lockyear, has been using the power of his elected office to sue automakers, and even worse, harass atmospheric scientists who still question to what extent industrial greenhouse gas actually causes global warming. This is reprehensible. It constitutes government harassment of free speech and scientific inquiry. It is cynical grandstanding, it is dangerous to American rights and freedoms and it will stifle the truth.
So don’t blame the lawyers. They go where they are called, and often they are our only hope. Instead help to expose scientific corruption, political opportunism, environmental non-profits who have acquired new momentum by milking this hysteria, and irresponsible members of the media who have abdicated their duty to seek to report the truth.