Still Awaiting Our Global Warming "Scopes Trial"

By Chris Mooney | December 8, 2010 9:04 am

My latest post has just gone up at DeSmogBlog. It’s about the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to hear a case I’ve written a lot about–Connecticut vs American Electric Power–which seeks to hold a group of power companies responsible for their contributions to global warming.

In essence, this will be a global warming tobacco-style lawsuit, if it is allowed to go forward–and the decision of the Supremes about that could get pretty interesting. Why? Because ironically, the do-nothing Congress that we’re going to have in some ways empowers the lawsuit:

Connecticut v. AEP was originally dismissed by district court judge Loretta Preska in New York City. She said the plaintiffs were essentially asking her to go beyond the scope of her office—“political questions are not the domain of judges,” she wrote. After all, we’re all waiting on Congress or the administration or the international community to deal with global warming, right? (Riiiiight.)

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed strongly. It ruled that the question at stake was not “non-justicable political” one, and empowered the case to go forward….

Which brings us to the Supreme Court. Any realistic survey of the political and regulatory landscape today suggests little reason to expect that global warming is going to be dealt with by Congress (which is feeling obstructionist). As for EPA? It seems likely to be obstructed.

If both avenues are blocked, and there’s no other clear climate remedy, will the Supremes really say that states being damaged by global warming can’t sue the polluters doing it?

Read here for my full DeSmogBlog analysis.

Comments (31)

  1. I am hoping it is Dover, not Scopes trial. Consider the outcomes of the two: who won, what were the long-term consequences? Scopes lost and Creationism ruled for decades afterward. In Dover, ID-ists lost and the language of the decision essentially castrated any further attempts to inject Creationism into schools, as is evidenced by a relative ease by which similar initiatives have been defeated since. Heck, after Dover, even online traffic from Creo/IDC websites and blogs went down to negligible in comparison to traffic at Panda’s Thumb or other evolution sites. Sure, most Americans are still some type of Creationist, and most of the pro-evolution ones are essentialists and do not really understand evolution, but in the realm of legal battles for public education, science definitively won. There is really no language left for IDC to insert into textbooks any more.

    And it was a synergistic work of online (blogs, like Panda’s Thumb, Pharyngula, Sandwalk, etc.) and offline (Dover trial, where many of those bloggers spoke as expert witnesses, including on their pivotal discovery of the “cdesign proponentsists’ typo) that brought in the devastating ruling by judge Jones.

    So, how do we now combine online and offline to trigger some kind of equivalent to Dover trial (not Scopes) for climate change, something that will have legal heft that will essentially cut at the knees any attempts to deny GW? A ruling that will look at the evidence and note that denial of GW is all motivated by political, ideological, religious and financial influences (including on the brains and minds of denialists who are not lying but truly believe it) and that the empirical facts about the way the world actually works are on the side of science which clearly shows that the climate is changing fast, that we are the culprit, that the consequences will be devastating, and that nobody has anything to gain, financially or in other ways, for “pushing” climate change – there is no conspiracy on our side, only on the other. Who will be the GW version of judge Jones?

  2. Bigby

    I get that you global warming activists want any method for going after CO2, I get that, I do. But think a minute. If you succeed in qualifying CO2 as a pollutant (and, no, it’s not) then think about the doors that opens. Every rancher of cows, pigs, and sheep is subject to harrassment. Every time you EXHALE, for crying out loud, you are polluting the atmosphere. And don’t say these are foolish arguments — why? Because activists have SUCH a NOBEL history of intellectual restraint?
    Bill O’Reilly (yeah, I know, one of your heroes) said during the gay marriage debate that if it passed every other fringe group, like polygmists, would use it to try to follow suit. You know what? He was right, a pro-polygamy group did sue to try to make it legal. They failed, but they tried.
    Classifying CO2 as a pollutant is a very dangerous route to take.

  3. Brian D

    Shorter Bigby: When I do my accounting, I only look at costs and ignore all income. It’s more honest that way.

    (Seriously, Bigby, where does the carbon in our breath come from? Our food, which ultimately got it by taking it out of the atmosphere in the first place (a cycle of maybe a year or so). Where does the carbon from fossil fuels come from? Underground, where it’s been for millions of years. Don’t you notice the difference in these two situations? In the first, expenses are matched by income, in the second, it’s all expense.)

  4. Bobito

    So do we file a suit against the automakers next? Then go after any company to produces oil burners? Then lets file suit against airlines for injecting CO2 at altitude? Weed Whackers, ya, let’s go after them too!

    This is nothing more than a novel approach to carbon taxes.

  5. Nullius in Verba

    #4,

    Yes, of course the two situations are different, but I think you are missing the point Bigby might be making. Regulation of emissions by the EPA can only regulate the substance not the source. If CO2 as a substance is classified as dangerous, then CO2 emitted from forests in the fall looks exactly the same as CO2 emitted from fossilised forests burnt at a coal power station. CO2 is CO2. There is no legal basis for making a distinction.

  6. Brian D

    No, it’s part of the process of pricing an externality.

    Those can be handled in any number of ways, even without filing suit.

    One example that doesn’t have any taxation involved would be the SAFE carbon approach proposed by (Conservative Party member and climate scientist) Myles Allen.

    Another – which we’ve seen in the past – would be emissions trading. This was used successfully to limit sulphur dioxide emissions that were the cause of acid rain (the Acid Rain Program). Notice that this follows from the recognition of sulphur dioxide as a pollutant, and it doesn’t raise money for the government as a tax would. Similarly, it worked, and it did so at a fraction of the cost that industry naysayers were claiming it would.

    Still another (closer to the original tax idea) would be a revenue-neutral cap-and-dividend system, such as this one (not the greatest, but fairly representative of the concept).

    Notice that in none of these are lawsuits against weed whackers a factor.

    .

    When will the conservatives stop caricaturing and start actually helping shape policy? Until that happens, the policy – which will need to change – will necessarily look more liberal, as the liberals are the only ones taking it seriously. Thus, when – not if, when – these restrictions come into play, they’ll be even less palatable for the conservatives than if they’d actually taken a role in composing them.

    It’s almost as if the Republican base is more interested in ideological purity than their own self-interest. Which is interesting, since “individual self-interest” is supposedly part of that ideology.

  7. Bobito

    The difference between regulation of sulphur dioxide, cigarettes, you name the tax to keep people from doing it tax is that our infrastructure is based upon carbon. Any tax on carbon has multiple touching points. Production, shipping, labor (cost to heat one’s home/drive to work goes up, the person needs more money to live, thus must be paid more) all go up.

    And if we are the only country doing it, it won’t make much of a difference to CO2 in the atmosphere because it spreads around the earth regardless of where it is produced. Other tax so you won’t do it approaches have a local benefit thus can be locally effective.

  8. Nullius in Verba

    “When will the conservatives stop caricaturing and start actually helping shape policy?”

    According to the conservatives, the correct policy is to wait 30-50 years and then move to other sources with the vastly better technology that will then be available. Adapt, don’t mitigate.

    But if the government seriously believed in the danger of global warming, it could (and would) address it quite easily. The US would simply start building about 400 fast breeder reactors – one in every major city in the United States. France did it in the 1980s, and you can’t tell me that the French are technologically all that far advanced ahead of the US. Technologically and economically it is perfectly feasible. Politically it’s a nightmare, of course; but if it was that or the end of the world, you’d do it anyway and ignore the protesters. Same as they did with the bank bail-out.

  9. anon

    They will withdraw the lawsuit the moment they learn about “discovery”, wherein all documents relevant to global warming can be examined, and this time there will be no academic freedom excuse.

  10. From my perspective, the problem these sort of lawsuits will encounter will not be one of the scientific basis of causality (though the deniers will undoubtedly make that part of the tactic of the defense), but that the universality of guilt will keep there from being a valid suit.

    After all, for any given village in Alaska that is disappearing, the causing factor was not just Exxon or any company working locally in Alaska but every possible source of GHGs on the planet.

    In this way these cases will be quite different from the tobacco lawsuits.

    As such, I expect these type of lawsuits to go nowhere fast.

  11. @11. Willian Holder who says
    “The chart no one wants you to see.”

    Yeah, right. Next you’ll be warning us of the secret bones of Jesus kept under the Vatican…

  12. Chris Mooney

    @10 I am not at all concerned about discovery in these cases. Bring it on.

    @12 with the common law of public nuisance, as I understand it, you only have to be shown to be a major contributor to the harm, not the sole cause of the harm. there’s no way a single automobile driver could be responsible for harming the state of connecticut. On the other hand, a major utility? It might.

  13. Bobito

    @13: Jesus is a myth (well, he may have existed, but son of god blah blah blah) that chart is fact. Why the deflection?

  14. Bobito

    @14: “you only have to be shown to be a major contributor to the harm, not the sole cause of the harm”

    Chris, can you explain how a utility company can be a “major contributor”. Am I wrong that CO2 in the atmosphere, as it pertains to AGW, is an accumulation of CO2 produced anywhere on earth? Assuming that is correct, I would think that it would be difficult to even prove that every coal fired power plant in this country combined is a “major contributor”

  15. Brian D

    @#11:

    The source is taken from Dr. Richard Alley.

    Why not see what he has to say on the subject (the big picture), instead of looking on websites put forth by the discredited Joanne Nova?

  16. Brian D

    @#8:

    The difference between regulation of sulphur dioxide, cigarettes, you name the tax to keep people from doing it tax is that our infrastructure is based upon carbon. Any tax on carbon has multiple touching points. Production, shipping, labor (cost to heat one’s home/drive to work goes up, the person needs more money to live, thus must be paid more) all go up.

    So, evidently, the free market can adapt to anything, anything at all, except a price signal on carbon (which should be there anyway, since the price doesn’t reflect the cost in climate damage)? What is it about the market that prevents it from reacting to a price signal, especially when alternatives already exist (efficiency, renewables, and nuclear power (depending on the type of plant) come immediately to mind)?

    Arguments like yours were brought up in opposition of the SO2 trading system – not the entire economy there, but virtually the entire industrial system (including power infrastructure). Guess what? It adapted, at a far cheaper price than expected.

    Plus, some of the systems – i.e. cap-and-dividend – provide support for the increased costs, and they’re structured in such a way to reward people the more they reduce their reliance on carbon (the less your reliance on carbon, the greater your support is in proportion to the increased costs).

  17. Bobito

    @18: “So, evidently, the free market can adapt to anything, anything at all, except a price signal on carbon”

    The free market would adapt, the same way it adapted to many of the other taxes/regulations on emission. By sending the industry, and it’s related pollution, to another country.

    Why is it that a tire produced in the USA costs 50% more than one produce in Korea? And becuase it cost more, America buys more Korean tires. And because of the adaptation, a Goodyear plant in Tennessee has to close and an entire town loses their jobs. The the rest of the country gets to fork over the money for unemployment benefits for those people.

    This is why the “many touching points” argument is so vital. Costs will snowball.

    On “What is it about the market that prevents it from reacting to a price signal, especially when alternatives already exist”

    Why do we need a price signal to replace our energy production infrastructure away from carbon? We are gradually moving that way, and would be more quickly if people would lose the antiquated stigmas of nuclear power.

  18. Bobito

    @18:

    “So, evidently, the free market can adapt to anything, anything at all, except a price signal on carbon”

    Sure the free market can adapt, but I believe that adaptation will be much like the adaptation to other emission related regulations. Manufacturing, and it’s related pollution, will just go to another country in many cases. And with that, jobs will be lost here, thus causing increase in unemployment benefits. The costs will snowball beyond the “tax” on the emissions.

    “since the price doesn’t reflect the cost in climate damage”

    This price if difficult to quantify, and is the source of much of the AGW debate. Is it such a problem that we need to apply as many quick fixes as possible? Or will the earth be just fine for another 50-100 years as we adapt gradually.

    “especially when alternatives already exist”

    I think we can move towards alternative energies, in many areas, without increasing the cost of carbon. There is no reason we need to use carbon based fuels to produce electricity in this country. A problem that would be more easily solved if people would lose the antiquated stigma of nuclear power.

    I agree that the efficiency/renewable argument is more difficult to argue (on my side) when it comes to our cars. There is just nothing that can replace gasoline/diesel and be cost competitive at this point. But again, do we need to apply a quick fix or can we survive until some sort of bio fuel or other portable energy source can be produced and be cost competitive? In this area I’d be willing to look into some sort of tax increases along the lines of “gas guzzler” taxes. Just taxing gasoline will have an unfair affect on the poor an middle class. Just tax the people that buy cars/SUVs that get 14 MPG and we can use that money to supplement biofuels.

    “Arguments like yours were brought up in opposition of the SO2 trading system”

    I won’t call the SO2 / CO2 argument apples and oranges, but it’s close. SO2 had local affects, so local regulation is effective. Reducing CO2 in this country doesn’t make a big difference to global CO2 emissions. So any negatives are not as easily outweighed by the positives.

    “Plus, some of the systems – i.e. cap-and-dividend – provide support for the increased cost”

    I can get behind this concept, as long as it penalizes any import from a country that doesn’t have such regulations in play. For example, a tire produced in China must be taxed 50% on import since it can be produced and transported for less due to lack of environment regulations in China.

  19. Bobito

    Brian D, apparently you’ll get the joy of having two replies from me. I thought my first one got lost but apparently my replies are now ending up in their spam filter. Either way, the second goes into more detail so you’ll have more to coment upon if you wait a minute… ;)

  20. Brian D

    See, I see that as one of many arguments against globalization and for local economies.

    But barring a change that extreme, ever heard of the Energy Independence and Security Act? It includes provisions to prevent the US government – including its military, which last I checked spent more than the fourteen next largest militaries combined – from purchasing fuel with a worse environmental impact than the US.

    In the same way that the Texas school board has disproportionate control over the educational standards of your country, due to the size of its textbook market, you don’t think that changes to the US’s purchasing policy will ripple throughout the global market?

    Oh, and as to why you need the price signals (apart from it being, you know, kind of required for any of the assumptions that go into market economics to actually work, i.e. a market without correct information will fail)? The clock is ticking, and we’re still lagging. (Those are separate links, and as above, I’ve noted that Dr. Allen is a diehard Tory.).

    But of course, how many free-market fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
    None. The Invisible Hand will do it for them.

  21. Bobito

    Brian D: Didn’t realize you were a Brit. We are looking at this a bit differently. My country’s wealth was built on a strong manufacturing infrastructure. That infrastructure is being summarily dismantled. It seems the only thing we “make” is this country anymore is money.

    Your country’s wealth was built on plundering the western world for a couple centuries, and you still have much of it.

    No hard feelings tho, the past is the past… ;)

  22. Brian D

    I’m a Canuck, actually. (Outside of the US, familiarity with other nations’ politics doesn’t imply we’re from that nation. ;) )

    My country’s wealth stems from exploitation of our natural resources (some more responsibly than others; markets fail to account for environmental issues because the people of the future are unfairly constrained from bidding on our resources) and acting as a trade partner to the US. Nowadays we’re simultaneously a pioneer in regional climate options (see British Columbia’s carbon tax and emissions trading regulation) and the single biggest fossil fool at climate negotiations (our PM is essentially George Bush without the charisma (except more religiously motivated), and our tar sands are a planetary travesty).

    And like you, my followup was caught in moderation. We seem to identify the same issues and merely differ on whether they should be tackled directly or allowed to solve themselves.

    Continuing that trend, I agree that the move to financial “services” and shifting away from real production is a serious problem in the US. You’d be amazed at how many on the left would agree with you there. (Consider the two authors on the “audit the Fed” bill last year – Ron Paul and Alan Grayson.) In fact, one of the most clarion calls for a shift back to actual production in America would probably be Deep Economy …written by climate activist Bill McKibben.

  23. Bobito

    Sorry, Brian, it was just obvious that you are not from the US since you used “tory” without feeling the need to explain what it meant. ;)

    I always enjoy when I can get a few back and forths with someone on the “other side” of an argument when blogging. It usually makes me feel like we aren’t as far apart as is the general perception.

    I would like to make one correction tho, on “should be tackled directly or allowed to solve themselves”. I agree the addiction to fossil fuel issue needs to be tackled (although our reasons may differ), my concern is the pace at which we tackle it.

    I agree with you that nothing will work itself out unless there is a monetary gain. So we must be vigilant to stay on target to removing fossil fuels as a primary energy source. But I think we can do this through motivations other than taxation. I used the example of going to the moon in another post, there was no monetary gain there, we just were motivated to prove it could be done.

  24. Brian D

    Heh. “Tory” is a the usual slang for “Conservative party” in Canada as well as in England, and it isn’t even attached to any one particular party (i.e. in Canada, you may have the federal Conservative Party and a provincial Progressive Conservative Party both referred to as “Tories” in passing, perhaps with federal/provincial to distinguish between them, even though they’re different politically. Mind you, we have other non-Tory parties that would be classified as conservatives too.) That said, I used it because, apparently, Dr. Allen is referred to by his Oxford colleagues as “a massive Tory”.

    The implication “allow to solve itself” was “without collective/policy action” (i.e. from a policy perspective, no action is needed; compare “the market is down today” vs “we’re in a liquidity trap”. Both conditions end due to the actions of business, but the latter requires policy action, while the former does not). I should have been clearer.

    Of course, I don’t see low economic activity as a necessarily bad thing. Here’s two examples:

    1) Picture a low-income (perhaps even on-unemployment-insurance) driver getting into a serious car accident, the kind where multiple cars are totaled, there’s huge medical expenses, legal charges, and so on. In terms of GDP, this was a net good thing (the only “losses” were due to lost productivity time, and the amount of economic activity due to the medical and legal work, plus purchasing replacement cars, exceeds that). However, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with any shred of respect for other human beings who would agree with that assessment.

    2) True story: In Africa, an invasive hyacinth species was clogging waterways and costing more and more in herbicides in an attempt to control it. However, it was later found that the hyacinth provided an ideal environment for mushroom growth (food production), which in turn broke down the hyacinth (freeing the waterways to some extent) and nourished earthworms. The worms turned the leftovers into fertilizer (bonus!), and then were used to feed chickens, which (in addition to their usual farm use) produced droppings that were used to make biogas, which provides enough heat to lead to a reduction in cutting trees for firewood (thus reducing deforestation and passively encouraging biodiversity). However, in terms of GDP, this is actually a bad thing – less demand for herbicide, food, fertilizer, and logging means lower economic activity.

    Something is seriously wrong here if we assume that higher economic activity is an end unto itself. The opening pages of (the print version of) The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are surprisingly apropos to this point. (If you haven’t read it, it’s the first quote from that source listed on WikiQuote.)

    Back in the context of climate change, the same reasoning applies: Is economic growth even the right metric to measure harm to the ecosystem? See also The Worth Of An Ice Sheet.

  25. Gonzo

    Chris, don’t get your hopes up about litigation as a strategy.

    Several reasons.

    First, Daubert/Kuhmo Tires. These cases provide a framework that keeps certain evidence from being the subject of expert testimony if there’s still controversy about them. It keeps lie detectors out of court, it prevents doctors specializing in “multiple chemical sensitivity” from portraying it to a jury given the disagreement in the medical academy about the supposed disease mechanics of the “syndrome.” We can argue about consensus all we want on the general topics of human caused G.W., but any particular MODEL offered to support a litigation case will have to meet the generally reliable standard and I think the Courts will be inclined to avoid wading into the issue.

    Second, Congress. Look up the Protection of Lawful Arms in Commerce Act. A bunch of large cities put together a similar strategy of suing gun makers for end result violent crime. Most of these cases were dismissed, but, like some I’ve talked to in this sector, there was a desire on the Plaintiffs’ part to bankrupt the “bad guys” with litigation. Congress stepped in and deprived the courts of jurisdiction to hear those cases. The end, hard stop. Like the guns issue, you do not just have a Congress that is apathetic about warming, they’re actually hostile to the AGW carbon management objectives. As our increasingly feckless President tries to “triangulate” (that is to say, compromise his core ideals in a mad dash to the perceived center) its not even out of the question that a limit to the courts’ powers to deal with warming could come down in the next two years.

    Third, Juries. The bad guys will ask for them. And the movement is still doing a bad job of persuading the population in general that AGW is real and requires concrete action. If written of this problem before: The movement propounds overheated predictions of catastrophe that then do not come to pass, the public loses confidence in the models and the movement looks like the latest version of the flat earth society. A much better job has to be done. The “mainstream” non climate blogs are all passing around a video this morning from WUWT of the large numbers of delegates at Cancun signing a petition to ban “di-hydrogen monoxide” — yes, the hold “ban H20″ schtick. And IT IS NOT HELPFUL! AGW luminaries in Cancun are falling for that!!!! Talk about blowing up credibility. Into the breach you ask a lawyer to try and bring a jury to a verdict. Don’t bet on it.

  26. Bobito

    Brian D: If you are still monitoring this thread…

    We got a bit off topic on this thread, so I was waiting to see if anything else popped up to discuss. I could see that our discussion had nothing left in it other than ideology. I didn’t want to continue to bomb this post off topic. But the thread appears to have died, so just want to add:

    First off, I’m very jealous that you have more than two parties to choose from! I’ll endeavor to do some reading about this phenomenon you have up there! ;)

    My reasoning for assuming nothing was left to discuss other than ideology pertains to “Is economic growth even the right metric to measure harm to the ecosystem?”

    As a conservative, with capitalistic principles (although I understand that the invisible hand doesn’t work) I’m going to have to be very sure of the “harm to the ecosystem” before I risk economic growth.

    Be well.

  27. Brian D

    Indeed, I’m still monitoring this thread. I’m hoping Chris will put up my longer-scale discussion to your earlier comment… there’s far more in agreement between us than it seems.

    You’ll note my question wasn’t pertaining to values – i.e. should we risk economic growth to prevent damage to the ecosystem?. I was asking a question of *measurement* – i.e. can we even measure risk or damage to the ecosystem in terms of economic growth.

    To paraphrase an analogy from Michael Tobis, it’s like playing Tetris while your bath is filling. Turning off the tub is worth zero points and costs you your “in the zone” high scores, therefore you demand proof of a non-Tetris risk, expressed in Tetris terms, over the timescale of a single Tetris piece, before you can even decide whether or not to act on that risk (i.e. no matter how full the tub is (even if you just started it!), action or inaction cannot be justified solely on the grounds of points, but need some reference to how full the tub is, which can’t be measured in points).

    The scenarios are nothing alike, yet for some reason many economists and virtually all conservatives demand them to be expressed using the same units. It’s particularly grating when this demand is deemed “rational” (typically by economists or Objectivists) in spite of the obvious irrationality of looking at the wrong measurement.

    Just like my two examples above, where economic activity is not the same as quality of life (ostensibly the end goal – the entire reason why we work) or stability of the ecosystem (which provides all the resources and infrastructure that fuel the economy – except perhaps an information economy, but you and I agree on the need for *actual* production). Why should we expect all three to have the same units?

  28. Nullius in Verba

    “The scenarios are nothing alike, yet for some reason many economists and virtually all conservatives demand them to be expressed using the same units.”

    The fundamental problem, which economists and many conservatives recognise, is that there is no single measure of value, because different people value the same things differently.

    That’s the basis of trade. Each participant in a trade exchanges something for something that is more valuable to them, so the total value of their possessions increases. When both sides gain from an exchange, wealth is created.

    The technical term for it is utility, and is in crude terms a measure of what people want, but it is so context-dependent that it is impossible to set any quantitative scale on it. There are no units you can use. You can’t even compare it between different people. So how can you study it?

    Humans invented currency as a way of getting round this problem, at least approximately. Currency is a universal medium of exchange between what people want from other people and what people can do to help others. There is a market equilibrium price, which is one that most people are willing to exchange goods and services at, but it isn’t the value of the goods themselves – as the buyer values them more highly than the currency, and the seller lower.

    Thus, for example, I might spend $100 on food and $500 on a plasma screen TV, but that does not mean that I value a TV five times more highly than food, nor that if I found myself short of money, that I would forego the food to get the TV. However, I wouldn’t value $200 worth of food more highly than $100 worth, as I wouldn’t be able to eat it all and it would just go rotten.

    The use of currency and the laws of supply and demand regulate all these interactions automatically, ensuring that everyone gets as much as possible of what they want while having to give as little as possible. Currency has no value in itself – it is valuable only to the degree that you can get what you want with it. The same applies to the environment. If you want a protected environment, then that is just as much a commodity as when you want a plasma-screen TV, or food.

    The problem here is that people want that protected environment, but they don’t want to (or can’t) pay for it. So they want to make somebody else pay for it – to have somebody else sacrifice their own interests and desires and quality of life – so that they can enjoy the benefits. So the big question with environmental economics is how you set a price so that you can get what you want for less than what everybody else would want in exchange for it.

    And looked at that way, you can see why it is impossible to compare preventing damage to the ecosystem with the values of economic growth – the comparison has already been done, we collectively decided we’d rather damage the ecosystem, and that decision is embodied in our definition of economic growth. Any scale of value that would result in protecting ecosystems therefore has to exist outside that.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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