The burner must remain on

Why we can’t do anything about climate change chapter eleventy billion:

Within days, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision that could severely limit the federal government’s authority to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants — pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.

It shouldn’t be optional. It shouldn’t be up for grabs. We shouldn’t have the power to decide future generations have to face the full horror show.

The case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders, several with ties to the oil and coal industries, to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming.

Nobody should be doing anything to weaken anyone’s ability to slow global warming. But here we are.

The plaintiffs want to hem in what they call the administrative state, the E.P.A. and other federal agencies that set rules and regulations that affect the American economy. That should be the role of Congress, which is more accountable to voters, said Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general and one of the leaders of the Republican group bringing the lawsuits.

No. Wrong. Here’s why: global warming pays zero attention to voters. Voters can’t vote global warming out. It’s not a policy, it’s a process, one that’s spiraled way out of our control. Votes are irrelevant.

If you’re in a big city that’s in the path of a colossal tornado, you don’t ask the city council to vote on what to do, you take shelter. If your house is on fire you don’t poll the neighbors on how to act, you call in the fire trucks. If the planet is on a path to catastrophic heating you don’t take a god damn vote on what to do about it.

But Congress has barely addressed the issue of climate change. Instead, for decades it has delegated authority to the agencies because it lacks the expertise possessed by the specialists who write complicated rules and regulations and who can respond quickly to changing science, particularly when Capitol Hill is gridlocked.

That’s the other half. The emergency nature of the problem is one half and the technical nature of the subject is the other. Democracy is a good thing except when it isn’t.

West Virginia v. E.P.A., No. 20–1530 on the court docket, is also notable for the tangle of connections between the plaintiffs and the Supreme Court justices who will decide their case. The Republican plaintiffs share many of the same donors behind efforts to nominate and confirm five of the Republicans on the bench — John G. Roberts, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

In short the process is corrupt as well as mistaken and the highway to mass extinction. Brilliant.

The pattern is repeated in other climate cases filed by the Republican attorneys general and now advancing through the lower courts: The plaintiffs are supported by the same network of conservative donors who helped former President Donald J. Trump place more than 200 federal judges, many now in position to rule on the climate cases in the coming year.

At least two of the cases feature an unusual approach that demonstrates the aggressive nature of the legal campaign. In those suits, the plaintiffs are challenging regulations or policies that don’t yet exist. They want to pre-empt efforts by President Biden to deliver on his promise to pivot the country away from fossil fuels, while at the same time aiming to prevent a future president from trying anything similar.

These people are consigning their children and grandchildren to a hideous future and short, painful lives. It’s a strange thing to watch.

If they win the feds won’t be able to slash tailpipe emissions or force electric utilities to replace fossil fuel-fired power plants with wind and solar, or consider the economic costs of climate change when deciding whether to approve a new oil pipeline or similar project or environmental rule.

Those limitations on climate action in the United States, which has pumped more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere than any other nation, would quite likely doom the world’s goal of cutting enough emissions to keep the planet from heating up more than an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with the preindustrial age. That is the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic hurricanes, drought, heat waves and wildfires significantly increases.

And when all those things increase, crops fail, and famine spreads. When that happens people try to move to more hospitable places, and the people already there try to stop them, and you get border wars everywhere. It seems this is what “conservative activists” want.

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