Climate Change, Unlimited Liability, and the End Of Capitalism

The AFP news service ran a chilling story over the weekend about the hot new frontier in big-bucks litigation: climate change lawsuits.

“From being a marginal and even mocked issue,” writes Richard Ingham, “climate-change litigation is fast emerging as a new frontier of law where some believe hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake.  Compensation for losses inflicted by man-made global warming would be jaw-dropping, a payout that would make tobacco and asbestos damages look like pocket money.  Imagine: a country or an individual could get redress for a drought that destroyed farmland, for floods and storms that created an army of refugees, for rising seas that wiped a small island state off the map.”

Yes, imagine that.  While you’re at it, go ahead and imagine there are no possessions, as John Lennon encouraged in song.  It’s easy if you try.

So far, we’re only talking about 132 lawsuits in the United States during 2010… but that was triple the number filed in 2009.  To get a taste of what those lawsuits are trying to accomplish, Ingham describes a California lawsuit dismissed in 2007, in which the state “sued three US and three Japanese carmakers, arguing that emissions from their vehicles had caused, among other things, melting of a mountain snow pack on which the state depends for its water.”

As Ingham points out, these suits are not only being filed in domestic courts: “A molecule of CO2 is no respecter of national boundaries.  Gas emitted by a car in Los Angeles, or by a coal plant in China, will help drive climate change in South Asia, Europe, the North Pole… anywhere.”

None of these efforts have been hindered in the least by the exposure of the “climate change” fraud.  It’s become a religious crusade, immune to logic, scientific evidence, and leaked emails which reveal key “climatologists” were simply making up whatever data they needed to fuel the movement.  The AFP story notes in passing there is now a “Center for Climate Change Law” at Columbia Law School in New York, which trains fresh battalions of lawyers to take up arms in the crusade.

There’s no way to “disprove” climate change – that’s the point.  It’s a transcendent religious belief that declares every single natural phenomenon to be “proof” for a thesis that can never be falsified.  Everything from record snowstorms, to flooding, to drought is “evidence” that the high priests of global warming were right to warn us about the fury of the sky gods, and we were fools not to do as they instructed. 

The edicts of this grim religion will now be enforced through billion-dollar lawsuits.  They know the public has been turning decisively against them, and their ability to enforce their will through politics is almost gone, at least in the United States.  Ingham acknowledges this when he says climate-change lawsuits are “filling the void of political efforts in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions.”  The fanatics can’t win elections any more, but they don’t have to, if they can win a few crucial billion-dollar junk-science lawsuits.

These lawsuits seek to introduce the concept of unlimited liability into our already shaky economy – the notion that American companies can be held liable for damages based on the whims of the same anti-capitalist “scientific community” that has already been caught falsifying data.  They could even be soaked for gigantic damages over events in distant lands, as the priesthood throws its statistical chicken bones and declares this tsunami or that blizzard to be a result of “global warming” caused by whichever American companies still have pockets left to pick. 

This unlimited liability is meant to be retroactive.  Actions that were perfectly legal five or ten years ago will suddenly become crimes to be punished with ruinous financial judgments.  A lawyer for a British environmental charity, Christoph Schwarte, thinks wistfully back to the tobacco lawsuits and chirps that successful climate-change lawsuits would create “awareness” and “caution about what is said in internal documents and emails.”  That should do wonders for job creation and the development of our energy resources.

This legal movement, if it succeeds, would represent nothing less than the end of capitalism.  It would create a mechanism for courts, and the certified “experts” who turn up at trials, to siphon a bottomless stream of money out of the private sector.  It would, in essence, criminalize industry itself.  Many companies would go bankrupt simply defending themselves against endless lawsuits.  The cost of industrial products would skyrocket as business behavior was adjusted to shield against unknown future liability, in much the way medical costs are inflated by defensive medicine and exorbitant malpractice insurance.  These pressures will build inexorably toward a future in which only government-controlled corporations can engage in industrial production.  This system has a name, and it is not “capitalism.”

In the United States, Republicans should place a high priority on legislation that will kill the rapidly spreading weeds of climate-change law.  We should nip this nonsense in the bud before we pull more billions out of an anemic private sector, to enrich government agents and lawyers.  Freedom is impossible when lawful behavior can be criminalized at the whim of mercenaries and fanatics.