Climate Change — Science or Politics?

What historians will certainly worry about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that carbon dioxide from human industry was a dangerous, planet destroying toxin.

It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world — that carbon dioxide, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.

— Ed Ring 2008

In 2007 Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for a 5-4 majority in Massachusetts v. EPA 549 U.S. 497, finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that can be regulated by the EPA. Justice Stevens, along with Justices Breyer, Souter, Ginsburg, and Kennedy, decided that CO₂ is a greenhouse gas that will change the climate to the detriment of life on earth and is therefore a pollutant that must be regulated by the EPA. The United States Supreme Court swallowed hook, line and sinker the false notion of man-made climate change and decreed that it must be stopped.

Two Justices, Roberts and Scalia, filed dissents in which the remaining justices, Alito and Thomas, joined. The majority opinion is a rare and unwelcome intrusion by the Supreme Court into national politics. There was and still is a fierce debate over whether earth’s climate is sensitive to human activity to such a degree that human beings hold the power to control it for better or for worse.

There is a tradition that the courts are not supposed to decide political questions because they involve matters left to the people through their elected representatives. When unelected lawyers in black robes venture into politics they steal from the people their right to self governance. The people were and remain unlikely to agree that a substance naturally occurring in earth’s atmosphere, without which all plant life will immediately cease, is a toxin.

On February 11th, 2017, Justice Samuel Alito delivered the keynote speech at the Claremont Institute’s 2017 annual dinner. In that speech Justice Alito said:

A pollutant is a subject that is harmful to human beings or to animals or to plants. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is not harmful to ordinary things, to human beings, or to animals, or to plants. It’s actually needed for plant growth. All of us are exhaling carbon dioxide right now. So, if it’s a pollutant, we’re all polluting.

The question of whether climate change is science or politics is a part of the debate. Those who believe human activity is the driving force claim it’s science while those who they label “skeptics” or “deniers” say it’s politics.

Whichever is correct depends on whether it’s climate itself or the debate we are talking about. Without doubt the climate is science. The debate is political. They who insist we can control the climate claim the mantle of science for their argument because if it’s science the skeptics and deniers can be portrayed as too scientifically uninformed to be taken seriously.

It should be crystal clear that however the debate is framed it was not a proper issue for decision by John Paul Stevens or his colleagues on the Supreme Court. Judges are neither climate scientists nor politicians. The court’s assertion that CO₂ is a pollutant does not make it so. Abraham Lincoln would say the court can call a dog’s tail its head and its head a tail, but a tail is still a tail and a head is still a head.

Chief Justice Roberts nailed the problem created by the majority in his dissent:

Apparently dissatisfied with the pace of progress on this issue in the elected branches, petitioners have come to the courts claiming broad-ranging injury, and attempting to tie that injury to the Government’s alleged failure to comply with a rather narrow statutory provision. I would reject these challenges as nonjusticiable. Such a conclusion involves no judgment on whether global warming exists, what causes it, or the extent of the problem. Nor does it render petitioners without recourse. This Court’s standing jurisprudence simply recognizes that redress of grievances of the sort at issue here “is the function of Congress and the Chief Executive,” not the federal courts. I would vacate the judgment below and remand for dismissal of the petitions for review.

Article III, § 2, of the Constitution limits the federal judicial power to the adjudication of “Cases” and “Controversies.” “If a dispute is not a proper case or controversy, the courts have no business deciding it, or expounding the law in the course of doing so.”

Well said, Mr. Justice Roberts!

There are two books I highly recommend to anyone who desires to delve deeper into the debate on human -caused climate change. They are Inconvenient Facts: The Science Al Gore Doesn’t Want You to Know by Gregory Wrightstone and Red Hot Lies: How global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed by Christopher Horner.

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