Texas AG finds climate denier lawsuits offer cheap headlines

As much as we detest the manipulations of our state attorney general — what with all of Greg Abbott’s suing of the federal government over national health care (if we get it here, how long before the Afghani's start to grumble?) and objecting to the EPA’s attempt to reduce global-warming gases (what global warming?) in Texas — we hate to see insinuation stand in for fact. [Come on back when you're done laughing.] You know, we’ve spouted off about this all before. Didn’t cost us nothing. When Abbott’s challenger, Barbara Ann Radnofksy, suggested to the Houston Chronicle recently that the man’s “concept lawsuits” pandering to the Far Right were bloated with taxpayer money, we winced. It’s worse than that. At least in the case of the global-warming challenge. In keeping with the intellectual rigor with which it was arranged, this objection appears to have been cobbled together on the cheap. According to documents provided the Current in response to a state Open Records request, two staffers from the AG’s division of environmental protection — may think about renaming that wing of the office, Greg — put the deal together in 22.25 hours at a cost of $1,418.28. Our campaigning Abbott learned the price of a statewide headline wasn’t so high, after all.

Mainly, it seems, staffer Jon Niermann reviewed the complaints of states like Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Wyoming and poured on the linguistic smut of warming-denying bloggers by asserting that leaked emails from a UK climate center somehow proved conspiracy was afoot. Numerous subsequent independent investigations found no evidence of any kind of fraud related to “Climategate.”

Hardly cost anything at all for Abbott to then to follow up on the quickly dismissed EPA complaint with a friendly letter asserting, “Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Of course, the bill will come due.

As the Current reported online early last month: Texas’ sustained ignorance on global warming is nearing the point of the criminal. Earlier this summer, a paper by a team of Princeton researchers suggested that climate-induced crop failures in Mexico could force one in 10 residents of that country to flee to the United States as climate refugees in coming decades.

Depending on the severity of crop losses, between 1.4 million and 6.7 million people would migrate to the United States by 2080. At the high end, that would represent a doubling of the current number of Mexican nationals already living and working in the United States. And, yet, the team’s numbers are likely low considering expected crop losses from climate change “are considerably larger” than those observed between 1995 and 2005, the years from which data was derived for the study’s methodology, the report concludes.

Of course, there could be a massive, rapid, international climate response that makes this whole conversation moot. But judging from the non-progress so far, it’s not likely.

If by some miracle Radnofsky gains the office, we recommend opening an immediate file under “genocide, crimes of.”

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