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CARBON EMISSIONS: Shouldn't countries with low carbon emissions sue the worst offenders for damages caused by climate change?

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Given that the current climate change crisis was caused by the accumulative build up of green house gases over centuries, and that very few countries are responsible for most of the gases now up there; and given that most of those same countries have a much higher than average per capita carbon footprint; these countries clearly bear much more responsibility for the current crisis than do less industrialized and/or very recently industrialized countries. Ironically the citizens of those countries least responsible for climate change seem to be those most adversely affected by it. Meanwhile, those most responsible seem to be more focused on retaining their own privilege, economic growth, and tightening their boarders to prevent climate and economic refugees from entering their countries instead of taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint. Wouldn't the primary victims suing the worst offenders for damages give them a strong economic incentive to curtail their remissions?

Edited by SRV
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Probably not, as it would just be added to the cost of doing business in the world's hydrocarbon economy, which includes all petroleum/gas producing & exporting nations, not just large industrialized nations.  Would also have to include developing nations that thrive on deforestation, agri-business, livestock farming, and infrastructure development. 

The only people who would be highly compensated from any class action court rulings and damage awards would be the lawyers.

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The OP is presuming the environment/air is owned by any organization when in fact there is no jurisdiction on that particular resource. Until then, there is no way to sue something that no one owns.

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10 hours ago, SRV said:

Given that the current climate change crisis was caused by the accumulative build up of green house gases over centuries, and that very few countries are responsible for most of the gases now up there; and given that most of those same countries have a much higher than average per capita carbon footprint; these clearly countries clearly bear much more responsibility for the current crisis than do less industrialized and/or very recently industrialized countries. Ironically the citizens of those countries least responsible for climate change seem to be those most adversely affected by it. Meanwhile, those most responsible seem to be more focused on retaining their own privilege, economic growth, and tightening their boarders to prevent climate and economic refugees from entering their countries instead of taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint. Wouldn't the primary victims suing the worst offenders for damages give them a strong economic incentive to curtail their remissions?

No.

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I think if a country's own scientific advisors are saying that policies are causing environmental damage, and that advice is ignored you can make a case that damages are owed to those who suffer as a result.  Who "owns" the environment is immaterial. 

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Truth be told I really don't think victims suing offenders is likely to result in significant change. 1.) It would be difficult to prove that a specific climate phenomenon was due to the historical cumulative emissions of the worst countries, and 2.) those most impacted wouldn't have deep enough pockets to litigate, and 3.) even the leadership of the poorest countries don't want to risk losing the privilege conferred on them in exchange for collaborating with the world's richest and most powerful decision-makers.

My primary objective was to point out that some countries bear much more responsibility for causing climate change than others, and therefore have a moral obligation to do more to curtail their own emissions, as well as provide incentives  and  compensation to poorer countries less able to afford meeting emission targets. Countries like Canada are among the worst offenders in terms of per capita emissions, total yearly emissions, and have been a major contributor to cumulative emissions over the last couple of centuries.  Canadians who insist that we do nothing until other worse offending countries do their part have no moral justification for their position. They should re-examine some of their assumptions and come up with a more equitable way of meeting global emission targets.


I am not naive enough to think that anyone will enforce it. Too many people are so invested in the jobs, economic growth, and privilege conferred on them by the status quo that they will insist on competing for increasingly scarce resources rather than collaborate to protect them. They will fight to retain their privileges come hell or high water or cyclones or droughts or forest fires or floods or boat-loads of climate refugees. Much like the reality of climate change, climate refugees will be denied entry. Bigger storm sewers and higher walls around our borders as part of "climate change preparedness" is the most we can realistically expect. Governments will limit their response to presenting consumers with alternatives without jeopardizing economic growth.  Consumers wishing to alleviate guilt or absolve themselves of responsibility will content themselves with electric cars, bio fuel., solar panels, LED light-bulbs,  and wind turbines and the like.

Edited by SRV

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Ok all this is being done to fight climate change, but what is being done to slow down the rapid population growth we have? It humanity over 100 000 years to get to the first billion in 1804. We just the last billion in the last 13 years.

If we do nothing to stop rapid population growth, all this conservation will do nothing to reduce emissions. What is better for the environment and the economy, suing everyone or slowing population growth?

I have a 4 year university degree in environmental resource management, so I can tell you first hand. The bureaucrats are using scare tactics to scam billions out of the economy. Many of them don't care of the environment. They are after overpriced green energy contracts. Price on carbon will be used to enrich lobby groups, and banks. These groups aren't trying to sell you cheap solar panels. They are trying to use our guilt to rip us off.

The best way to save the planet, is to find ethical solutions to population growth. If big environmental organizations fail to mention overpopulation, than chances are they got a hidden agenda.

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Edited by Robert Greene

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On 6/14/2018 at 1:12 PM, Robert Greene said:

Ok all this is being done to fight climate change,

I don't see a lot being done. The little that is being done has not even slowed emissions, which are cumulative. Despite the shuffling of deck chairs on the Titanic every year there are a lot more greenhouse gases up there than there were the year before.

On 6/14/2018 at 1:12 PM, Robert Greene said:

but what is being done to slow down the rapid population growth we have

Wealthier families and those living in wealthier countries tend to have less children. Canada, for instance, has a negative growth rate of 1.8 children per family. It would seem that when children are no longer seen as an asset, but rather a liability, people choose to have less children. Families whose only old age security is living with their adult children, families who rely on the labour of their children to make ends meet, etc., would be worse off without them. Wealthier middle class families have high expectations for their children. No child is expected to die before adulthood, and parents want them to have a good education, participate in sports and extra-curricular activities, etc. These children also have high expectations --an I phone, Nikes, their own bedroom, being driven to the hockey game or music lessons, etc. For the middle-class having children is extremely expensive. Estimates put the cost at close to one million dollars per child. (See McLean's article "Million Dollar Babies". ) For the better-off the choice is often between having a third child or putting the ones you already have through university. Buying a cottage or putting in a swimming pool might be more appealing and affordable than having a third child. Wealthier people have a great incentive to keep their family size low so that they can afford other things they need or think they want.

I also think the "million dollar babies" consume about a million times as much of the word's resources as the less-than-a-dollar-a-day babies.

All this to say that when poor people no longer have to worry about high infant mortality rates, low incomes, and who will look after them in their old age or if they get sick, etc. they will likely also choose to have fewer children. So the best thing to reduce population growth, in my opinion, is to redistribute the world's wealth. According to a 2017 Oxfam report "eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.". I think that redistributing that wealth would go a longs way toward reducing population growth.

Edited by SRV

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Most hard line Socialists aka. Communists would agree with you about redistributing wealth.

Russia practiced it from 1917 to 1989.  It is believed that the USSR murdered around 150,000,00 of its own citizens.

 China started in earnest circa 1949 under Mao who boasted of killing 54,000,00.  China ended up killing around 100,000,000 by the end of the 20th century.

All in the name of equality, income redistribution, and the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat '.

Nowadays we have Venezuela where Communism is starving its citizens, confiscating properties, and people are resorting to dumpster diving. 

Other than the facts noted above, yes indeedy, income redistribution works wonderfully well (/sarc)

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18 hours ago, Leon said:

, I suppose slaughtering a few hundred million people does indeed reduce the population.

Slaughtering a few hundred million of the wealthiest  people would do more to reduce over-consumption of finite resources than slaughtering three or four billion of the poorest people.

But that is not my argument. You are avoiding my argument by portraying atrocities committed by  communist dictatorships as inevitable results of attempts at wealth redistribution. I don't think we have to slaughter anybody. My argument is simply that people who have a reasonable amount of social security are likely to voluntarily choose to have less children. The correlation between family income and number of children seems to corroborate that.

I also think your portrayal of what is happening in Venezuela is very skewed. There are many countries integrated into the global free marketplace in which people are starving and dumpster diving. There are many in our own country dumpster diving. I don't think there are many Venezuelans starving. Admittedly there are scarcities in Venezuela, but the reason s for these scarcities are many. Venezuela subsidizes gasoline and some other basic necessities like rice for its citizens. Much of these subsidized goods are smuggled out and sold in Colombia and Ecuador, undermining Venezuelan government attempts to make them both  available and affordable to citizens. The fall in oil prices --Venezuela's primary export-- greatly reduced government revenues needed to maintain social services. And capital flight. Rich Venezuelans took their money and ran.

And then there are the sanctions by the US, the EU and UK and now Canada.

And attempts at a US -backed military coup.

There are indeed many Venezuelans that are discontent with the present state of affairs, but there are many factors, including external meddling, that have made the transition to a more equitable society impossible. It will fail because powerful economic and political interests will not allow it to succeed. As always, the fear a domino effect, and want to retain unfettered access to Latin America's and the world's resources and consumer markets.

None of these things are inherent flaws of socialism, but rather externalities of the dominant global economic development model that will tolerate no other gods before it.

 

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