Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Climate Change in the Courts

SPOTLIGHT: Environmentalists have long used the courts to achieve their goals – rather than doing the hard work of persuading the rest of us to share their latest concern.

BIG PICTURE: Australian journalist Tony Thomas has written an informative and entertaining account of a lawsuit currently underway in California. Titled Warmism Gets a Courtroom Thrashing, it’s a great 10-minute read.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing oil companies for alleged climate damages. Anyone who has ever driven an automobile, used natural gas to heat their home in the dead of winter, or boarded an airplane knows that fossil fuels are essential. Without them, life as we know it would screech to a halt.

Nevertheless, companies that do the difficult and dangerous work of making fossil fuels available to the rest of us are being dragged into court. In this instance, they’re being accused of “unlawful public nuisance.” If these companies settle out-of-court, the cities will get dump trucks full of money and will rinse and repeat (this is, after all, a government extortion racket). If the oil companies defend themselves in court, their accusers might still get lucky.

While clicking on hyperlinks in the Thomas article, I arrived at Ron Clutz’s blog, Science Matters, which in turn directed me to a veritable goldmine of research material. Titled the Climate Change Litigation Databases, this is a website that collects legal documents associated with more than 1,000 climate court cases – from the US and abroad. Compiled by a law school and a law firm, it’s difficult to overstate the astonishing nature of this online resource.

For example, the page associated with the San Francisco/Oakland matter currently permits anyone to download 57 legal documents. These include the original, 50-page complaint filed in September 2017, a list of questions the judge asked both sides to address a month ago, the judge’s reasons for declining a submission from a consumer group, and a great deal more.

Looking beyond this particular case, the database lists no less than 98 lawsuits in which the Center for Biological Diversity played some role. Its search engine identifies 79 cases involving the Sierra Club, and 26 cases involving the Natural Resources Defense Council. Legal arguments employed by Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Union of Concerned Scientists may also be examined.

TOP TAKEAWAY: For well-funded green groups (and a growing list of governments), lawyers are weapons and courtrooms are a political battleground.


That’s Debatable…60 Years in Print
Tony Thomas

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2018 by in ethical & philosophical, quotations, Uncategorized and tagged .
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