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March 05, 2008

Storm the Court on Global Warming

The founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, is sorely disappointed with his creation's direction, including its traffic coverage and acceptance of global warming.

Coleman also told the audience his strategy for exposing what he called “the fraud of global warming.” He advocated suing those who sell carbon credits, which would force global warming alarmists to give a more honest account of the policies they propose.

“[I] have a feeling this is the opening,” Coleman said. “If the lawyers will take the case – sue the people who sell carbon credits. That includes Al Gore. That lawsuit would get so much publicity, so much media attention. And as the experts went to the media stand to testify, I feel like that could become the vehicle to finally put some light on the fraud of global warming.”

Interesting idea, but this is not a good way to push back against global warming alarmists. First, global warming is getting lots of media attention already, although it's not neutral coverage on the issue. Does Coleman somehow think that the various scientific journals, not to mention the legacy media, will start presenting "climate change deniers" as something other than paid stooges of oil companies just because they are now involved in a lawsuit? I just don't see how media attention to the topic changes because the question is in the courts.

Second, lawyers and judges are not usually very good at science or math. I don't mean to be insulting, but it's entirely possible for them to sit and listen to Coleman's experts and understand less than half of what they hear. If you want to see an important decision with long-lasting effects in which judges magnificently misunderstand the basic scientific and technological ideas involved, see Justice Scalia's opinion in Kyllo v. United States. And that wasn't even a science-intensive case. More than that, contemplate for a minute what happens if the question is put to a jury.

Third, court cases do not settle public policy contests. Think about it. We're still fighting about plenty of topics that have been litigated to death, like evolution and creationism in schools, gay marriage, and the mother of all public policy issues: ABORTION. Global warming will be no different. In fact, an adverse decision will just energize the losing side and increase the contempt that Americans feel towards the justice system.

I think what Coleman wants is an even playing ground in which his experts can get a fair hearing. Unfortunately, I don't think the courts are going to be that place.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:20 AM

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