October 01, 2012

Is the Public Trust a Viable Mechanism to Regulate Climate Change?

There is mounting agreement that no credible argument exists to show that atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), are not on the rise and that anthropogenic causes are not a significant contributing factor. See Mass. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 549 U.S. 497, 509, 523 (2007). The overwhelming majority of national and international scientific institutions recognize that fact. In its Fourth Assessment Report, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that “[m]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” S. Solomon et al., Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge Univ. Press 2007). As scientists continue to refine their understanding of the problem, it has become clear that climate variability around the world is increasing at a faster pace and that the burning of fossil fuels and mass deforestation are contributing significantly to the enhanced greenhouse gas effect.

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