This Can't Possibly End Well

Forget for a moment the real scientific questions about the future magnitude of anthropogenic global warming.  Just imagine the abuse of this new proposed statute, given that incredibly difficult nature of causality in a complex, chaotic system like climate:

An under-the-radar provision in a House climate bill would give plaintiffs who claim to be victims of global warming a way to sue the federal government or businesses, according to a report Friday in The Washington Times.

The Times reported that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts added it into a bill they authored.

The provision, which was just released, reportedly would set grounds for plaintiffs who has "suffered" or expect to suffer "harm" attributable at least in part to government inaction. The provision defines "harm" as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change)," according to the Times. Plaintiffs could seek up to $75,000 in damages a year from the government, with $1.5 million being the maximum total payout.

Remember that it was just weeks ago that the President of the United States blamed flooding in North Dakota on global warming.  If flood damage that resulted from a colder-than-average winter and near record snowfall can be blamed on anthropogenic global warming, then anything can.


  1. rxc:

    This provision will allow green groups to set up a continuous funding stream from the Federal govt for their activities. It is quite striking in its boldness. If it passes, it is truly the beginning of the end for our society, and marks the start of the green hell.

  2. DaveK:

    Just wait... If our President has his way, we'll actually start meddling with climate on a large scale. Things like reflective aerosols to be released at high altitudes, and which will significantly reduce insolation at the Earth's surface. That will open our government up to huge claims for all sorts of real and imagined damages. If there is a huge blizzard in Moscow, will our efforts to cool the planet be blamed? You Betcha! A late frost that destroys a fruit crop? Blame Uncle Sam and go collect your millions!

  3. stan:

    One would think that a wise man might consider running the federal government in a time of economic crisis with two foreign wars to be a sufficiently full plate. Especially after also deciding to run the auto industry, Wall Street, AIG and the major banks. And most especially while planning the complete restructuring of health care (1/7 of the economy).

    Apparently not. His unsuccessful stint as a community organizer has convinced him he also has the ability to successfully regulate the earth’s climate as well. The Democrats in DC agree with him.

    Hubris doesn’t even begin to adequately describe this insanity.

    When reading left-wing prescriptions I often wonder if the author is stupid, ignorant, or insane. I think this one is all three.

  4. morganovich:

    this is just another egregious step toward pushing policy issues that cannot be successfully legislated (cap and trade looking dead in the senate) into the realm of statute and allowing passing sweeping power to a court system with inexpert juries that is poorly equipped to handle it.

    say what you will about obama, but he understands the power of bureaucracy and legal precedent.

    we are going to see a lot more of this.

    the potential for damage to a society that already spends over 2% of GDP annually on tort settlement (2/3 of which is consumed by lawyers and courts and never gets to the plaintiffs) is egregious.

    the $1.5mm limit will do little good to prevent massive class action awards.

  5. Fred Z:

    Time for the B word.

    Banana, as in republic.

  6. ElCortezCasino:

    banana's strikes back

  7. Bob Smith:

    This provision will allow green groups to set up a continuous funding stream from the Federal govt for their activities.

    Don't think for a moment that this wasn't the intended result. Obama knows he'd never get Congressional approval for straight-up funding of these groups.

  8. Fat Man:

    We are in such deep trouble.

  9. Me3tv:

    The greens and socialists cannot possibly get enough tax revenue from the "wealthy" above 200K annual income. SO -- here is the answer. TAX the poor through the carbon cap and trade and inflation. Then turn up the cash flow to the trial lawyers who are due for huge payback from the new administration. None of this is about being green. It is all about wealth consolidation in the hands of the liberal elite. The poor AND the wealthy will pay but the poor will have no clue they have been had. It is THEIR perception that their chosen leadership will "take care" of them. Oh yes. They will be "taken care of" alright. Since they have no clue how capitalism works - the blame for their loss to inflation and burdensome carbon taxes - and their prolonged future in poverty will be blamed on the "capitalist system". It is the most beautiful stealth tax ever. Liberal socialists win and the capitalists are too dumb to educate the abused poor that are left in the dust by the race to social power.

  10. Random Walk:

    There may be a silver lining -- a trial attempting to prove claims of harm attributable to climate change due to government inaction would be very interesting, to say the least.

  11. Allen:

    Global Warming and the Red River? Can anyone be any bigger of an idiot to connect the two?

    First, to answer O44's point about a 2 degree increase.... it would in all likelihood help the area. One of the issues is that the Red River of the North flows north. As the water struggles to flow to the north, it's increasingly likely to be slowed by ice. We see this as local officials put a lot resources before the flooding into blowing up ice jams. Back in 97 when I was living in Grand Forks, they nearly avoided the problem as before the flooding they were out sanding the ice. This helped it melt and break up.

    Not only would a warmer weather in the area help melt the ice, but it would be more likely that what precipitation falls during the winter will melt and disperse more often. For example, on average Denver gets @20" more snow in a winter than Fargo receives. Yet flooding is rarely an issue in Denver. There's more to it but it gives you an idea.

    It's also idiotic because a man in his position should have a decent, high level picture of the situation. He should know there have been plenty of major floods in this area. IIRC there were major floods in 1950, 1952, 1957 and 1966. In fact, the 1950 did a $100m in damage which I believe would be more than the $800m from the 1997 flood if adjusted to inflation adjusted dollars. But it's not just a consistant pattern of this sort of flooding while us whities were around. There's a lot of speculation that flooding's been much worse than what we've experienced. It's just that we haven't had a bunch of white europeans around to record it. More on that below from the news.

    It's also idiotic because it's clear that man kind has made enormous changes to the environment in that area since WWII. This is a major farming area where during the last 50-60 years, all sorts of lowlands have been drained, bigger and deeper ditches have been dug (it means more water going to the rivers quickly), all sorts of fields have been tiled, etc. This of course has happened for a variety of reasons from the huge supports sugar gets (this is a major sugar beat area) to just having to add more tiling or dig bigger ditches cuz the fields don't seem to drain like they used to cuz the neighbors field was tiled and it's water is draining more quickly into your ditches and field. And really for someone who's familiar with the environment and on the left, the idea that giant corporate farming would cause this sort of thing shouldn't be too crazy. That is, that much of the problem of what we're seeing isn't because the amount of water's any different but that man has altered the landscape, much of it in the last 30 years, to cause it to flood more because water isn't holding up the way it used. it's just getting quickly funneled right at the Red river.

    And of course, the biggest reason why it's so stupid to blame global warming is that we have every reason to expect this area to incur this sort of flooding all the time. Even without record snow falls, ice jams or man made issues. In terms of geology this is practically a newborn when it comes to being a river.

    The Red River throws a lot of temper tantrums, and with a good excuse: Compared with most rivers, it’s just a toddler.

    As Schwert points out, the Red River Valley is the youngest major land surface in the contiguous United States. It was exposed when glacial Lake Agassiz finished draining about 9,200 years ago, whereas most U.S. rivers are millions of years old.

    “This is not a normal river setting,” he said.

    The Red has several factors that make it prone to spring flooding.

    A normal river occupies a channel with a floodplain on the sides and valley walls immediately adjacent to the floodplain.

    The Red occupies a channel in a flat lakebed, and the nearest valley walls are miles away, allowing its floodwaters to move “as shallow sheets that meet with other shallow sheets,” Schwert said.

    Unlike most U.S. rivers, the Red flows north. Spring thaw starts in the southern valley before the northern valley, causing ice jams, backwater flow and floods.

    The river also slopes like a bowling lane – so gradual it’s almost imperceptible to the naked eye.

    From Wahpeton, N.D., to the mouth of Lake Winnipeg, the snaking 545-mile-long river drops only 229 feet in elevation, an average of less than 6 inches per mile, according to the water institute.

    That gives the river a tendency to pool, spilling out as a shallow lake 50 to 60 miles wide at times, as it did in 1997, Schwert said.