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Now Suing Over Global Warming
It was just a matter of time...
[by Roger Aronoff] 9/16/05
warming controversy has just entered a new venue, as a federal
judge in San Francisco (where else?) ruled that a lawsuit challenging
two federal agencies, the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas
Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) could move forward. Judge
Jeffrey White ruled that the radical environmental groups,
Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, along with the cities
of Boulder, Colorado, Santa Monica, Oakland and Arcata, California,
have standing to proceed with this suit, which was originally
filed in 2002. The environmentalists may cite media figures,
such as Miles O’Brien of CNN, as witnesses for their
the Ex-Im Bank provide loans and insurance coverage to billions
of dollars of U.S. backed projects around the world. Among
the projects are oil fields in Russia, Southeast Asia, West
Africa, Mexico and the Caspian Sea area. The suit charges that
while approving more than $32 billion in loan guarantees and
insurance over the past decade, OPIC and Ex-Im have ignored
Environmental Protection Act (EPA) mandates and the National
Environmental Policy Act. The suit argues that they have continued
supporting these fossil-fuel projects without considering the
harm they might do to the planet.
to the Associated Press, however, the judge’s
ruling was rather narrow. He imposed no burdens on the agencies,
but simply said that these groups have the standing to sue. The
issue of whether or not U.S. environmental rules and laws would
apply to these specific projects will most likely be litigated.
If this starts to look promising, stay out of the way of personal
injury trial lawyers. This will make the dubious asbestos cases
seem small time.
There has been a media frenzy over the last several
months suggesting that the debate is over as to whether or
not global warming exists,
and whether or not man is a significant contributor to the phenomenon.
CNN presented a documentary last March, repeated several times
since, called “Melting Point.” Host Miles O’Brien
says near the beginning, “But now the scientific debate
is largely over. There is overwhelming consensus that the threat
is real, that humans are at least part of the cause, and that
something must be done.” He did include two skeptics, Dr.
Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute and Dr. Richard Lindzen
of MIT. But they were two of approximately 20 people interviewed
and their most powerful arguments against the theory were left
out. Lindzen points out that we have enough trouble predicting
the weather two days in advance. How can we have any confidence
in predicting 40 years ahead?
Michaels explains that if global warming is not
presented as a crisis-in-waiting, how can these scientists
who create computer
models charting disaster get a share of the $4 billion being
spent this year on research. Then O’Brien closes with this: “Michael’s
position is in the minority. The consensus is the scientific
debate is all but over.”
The CNN view is widely accepted by the media.
USA Today had a front-page story in June headlined, “The Debate’s
Over: Globe is Warming.” Nightline had an episode earlier
this year in which Ted Koppel began by saying that they weren’t
going to debate whether or not global warming is a real phenomenon,
and proceeded to attribute the pending extinction of certain
frogs to climate change.
The fact is that not everyone agrees. While many
of the skeptics believe there has been some slight warming,
some of it possibly
attributable to man’s use of greenhouse gases, it could
also be a natural variation in the earth’s atmosphere.
Many questions persist. How much is from solar activity? And
if the warming is only going to be one degree hotter in a century
from now, couldn’t that actually be better for the world
in terms of food production and plant life?
James Schlesinger, former energy secretary, wrote
an article in the Wall Street Journal in August, entitled,“The Theology
of Global Warming.” He points out that “most of the
global warming in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and
1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than
later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell—and
scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling…We
must always bear in mind that the earth’s atmosphere remains
a highly complex thermodynamic machine. Given its complexities,
we need to be modest in asserting what we know. Knowledge is
more than speculation.”
As to whether or not there is a consensus among
scientists, consider this: Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist,
emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia,
and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, notes
that “Thousands of scientists from many countries now fully
understand that Kyoto and other efforts to control human emissions
of carbon dioxide (CO2) are ineffective and entirely unfounded
He and Schlesinger
both point to the Oregon
Petition, in which between 17,000 and
18,000 signatories, nearly all of
whom are scientists, mostly with advanced degrees, declared that “There
is no convincing evidence that human release of carbon dioxide,
methane or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the
foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s
atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” Even
the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) is far from conclusive. In June of this year, IPCC
vice president Yury Izrael wrote that “There is no proven
link between human activity and global warming.”
The playing field for the global warming issue used to be the
Kyoto Treaty, which former President Clinton signed and advocated.
But when its provisions were put up for a vote in the U.S. Senate,
95 members voted no, primarily because the treaty would wreck
the U.S. economy.
One might think that the Friends-of-the-Earth/Greenpeace
lawsuit could finally settle this debate once and for all.
count on it. The idea of testing evidence before some impartial
jury is appealing but not very realistic. If the courts are as
biased as our media, don’t look for the truth to emerge. tRO
2005 Accuracy in Media