Among the nightmare scenarios of global warming, there’s one only now coming into view – and it’s definitely manmade: As predictable as the rising seas, we can expect a flood of class-action lawsuits trying to cash in on the issue.
Climate change promises to be “a lucrative new field” for the tort bar reports the Newark Star-Ledger. A Rutgers law professor predicts that global warming will make for “one of the biggest legal practices in the next 20 years.” (The Star-Ledger, 7/8/07)
The opinion is shared by the president of the World Resources Institute: “Companies that generate significant carbon emissions,” he warns, “face the threat of lawsuits similar to those common in the tobacco, pharmaceutical and asbestos industries.” (The Toronto Star, 4/29/07)
And if you thought asbestos and tobacco litigation were profitable, try to imagine all the “mass tort” cases that global warming will inspire. Energy companies, coal mines, any firm at all that generates carbon dioxide – these industries and many more can expect to find themselves accused of causing climate change.
Some law firms already have “climate-change groups” studying the possibilities. Another hint of things to come was a class action suit was filed on behalf of Mississippi residents against oil and coal companies after Hurricane Katrina – arguing that company emissions caused the climate change that caused the hurricane. (Star-Ledger, 7/8/07).
In Alaska, the Inuits claim that their island is sinking because of global warming. The aggrieved islanders haven’t decided who to sue yet – but they’ve got a Houston trial lawyer working on it. (Star-Ledger, 7/8/07)
All of which proves nothing at all about the actual causes or dangers of global warming. It’s just more evidence of a climate of greed and opportunism in the trial bar. And that’s one climate that never changes.