Acton Institute Powerblog

Carbon Dioxide’s Day in Court

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The Supreme Court is hearing a case today brought by 12 states and a coalition of environmental groups that sued the Bush administration in 2003 for refusing to issue regulations limiting carbon emissions. “On a global scale, forced cutbacks in CO-2 emissions would create an unconscionable setback for developing countries where economic development is just beginning to pull people out of poverty,” writes Jay Richards.

Read the commentary here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • james moore

    Ah, the old "ostrich in the sand". Nevermind that the overwheming opinion of earth scientist is that global warming is here! More research is a good mantra for those who don’t want to face reality. If we are to be "good stewards" we’d better get started. Jim

  • Jonathan

    I don’t think the article states anywhere that global warming is not real or is not here, as you seem to imply. It does bring into question the idea that global warming is caused primarily by CO2 emission, and that by cutting CO2 emission, power production, and economic activity we can stop global warming.

  • Thomas Mahany

    CO2 doesn’t merely ‘support life on the planet’ – it is an essential, irreplaceable nutrient for plant survival and growth. That said, anthropogenic global warming is a theoretical computer-generated construct of the same climate modeling community that at present can’t explain what happened to the predicted hurricanes this year, or why Calgary, Alberta is experiencing record cold temperatures this week. For that matter, a couple of weeks ago these climate computer modelers resorted to constructs by which the arctic is somehow ‘protecting itself’ to explain reversion to (colder) conditions not seen since the 1970’s. This procrustian approach to evidence of cooling trends as being representative of a result of warming is troubling. While the disbelievers in the warming seen in the 1990’s were as oblivious of evidence as the AGW adherents, at least they weren’t advocating construction of anti-glacier berms to thwart the next Ice Age. When climate modelers can ‘predict’ recent past conditions based on conditions that obtained in the more distant past, we should take notice. When cattle can be profitably raised in southern Greenland and good Claret wine grapes grown in England, we’ll know that the climate is finally as warm as it was in the time of Eric the Red. Until then, the present temperatures are not unprecedented. Gallileo merely hadn’t invented the thermometer yet.

  • Calvin Beisner

    James Moore repeats the old mantra of "overwhelming opinion" among scientists "that global warming is here!" Pardon a yawn, but, Jim, that’s not the point. First, none of the so-called "skeptics" say global warming isn’t happening. What DO they reject? Claims that (a) it is largely human-induced, (b) it is likely to be catastrophic, (c) it can be significantly reduced by mandatory reductions in CO2 emissions at a cost that is justified in the trade-offs involved, and (d) shouldering such costs to reduce GW will yield greater benefits than shouldering the costs of addressing other problems–like lack of pure drinking water and sanitation, and indoor air pollution from burning wood and dung for cooking and heating, and malaria, etc., problems that presently cause some eight or ten million premature deaths annually (not to mention hunger and warfare and AIDS and other infectious diseases, which cause millions more). Second, the "overwhelming opinion" you claim, while it might exist about global warming simpliciter, simply doesn’t exist when it comes to the points enumerated above, as is documented in the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance’s "A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming," pp. 9-12, online at And third, even if such a consensus did exist, it would be scientifically irrelevant, because the hallmark of science is not consensus but evidence.

  • Gillian

    I read one ‘skeptic’s’ reply to global warming the other day who said ‘the climate has been changing for the past couple thousand years. How could humans possibly be responsible for the increase of GHG that are causing global warming’. You don’t have to look very far back in history (try 150 years) to see how different things are now. It is absurd and ignorant to so easily brush aside the very real possibility that global warming is caused by human activity and also to assume that in order to stop the increase in GHGs we would need to do something so drastic that humanity would some how suffer from it. The real cause of GHGs are our over population and our over consumerism. A change in life style where we only buy and use what we really need will not kills us in the least. I believe we are killing God’s gift to us and there are too many people who just don’t seem to care. I think brushing off people who are desperately trying to save the planet as hysterical environmentalist is extremely offensive. What happens if we find out they were right and in 20 years from now everything is catastrophic, won’t you be kicking yourself? Is it worth that risk? We can’t wait, this is the only time we can fix it.

  • Paul Schmidt

    Gillian wrote: "You don’t have to look very far back in history (try 150 years) to see how different things are now." Okay, I looked. Go to and look yourselves. When you look at the temperatures for the last 2400 years, it paints an entirely different picture.

    To force people to "use what we really need" through the threats and force of government does not, to me, seem like a Godly calling.

  • Todd Norquist

    This article does not deny recent earth-warming. Temperatures HAVE risen–especially prior to 1940–after which human-caused increases in CO2 emissions dramatically rose.

    Check out the book: "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years," by Dennis Avery and S. Fred Singer. This award winning economist and renowned climatologist team compiles peer-reviewed data from scientists all over the world to dispel the widespread notion that global warming is caused by, and can be controlled by, human beings. More than a dozen lines of evidence converge to register many global warmings over aeons. Warmings have borne generally saluatory effects–as evident in the medieval warming, which is ignored or hidden by climate-alarmists-power-grabbers.

    Data collected in the book consistently indicate, as mentioned by Dr. Richards–surface activity of the sun is a major factor in these multi-century warming and cooling cycles.