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Bringing climate change to court

Following up on our report about Palau’s effort to hold the industrialized world legally accountable for the alleged damages caused by greenhouse gas emissions, host Maria Hinojosa talks with environmental lawyer Matthew Pawa.

Pawa has become a pioneer in bringing lawsuits based on damage allegedly caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Pawa is currently helping a small tribe of Alaskan natives sue Exxon-Mobile and other energy companies because they argue their small coastal lands are being irreparably damaged by sea-level rise, which most scientists believe is exacerbated by greenhouse gas emissions.

Pawa was also part of a suit brought by five state attorney generals in 2004, which tried to force several large electric companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. That case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • Larry Alan McDowell

    I am the least litigious person I have personally ever met, but this guy has a point; no?

  • John Ross

    The fate of life on Earth depends on safely recycling 100% of everyone’s trash, scrap, garbage, junk, sludge, smoke and fumes. The Earth can no longer quietly recycle the growing tons of our waste materials. The “tipping point” has been reached and passed. from now on we are all living on borrowed time. 

  • Chris Hagar

    Our country, the United States of America, needs to accept responsibility for its actions or inactions. Whether or not our country has contributed the most to global warming is not the primary issue, accepting the rule of law is. At least we should not impede the efforts of Palau.

  • mbee1

    If you bother to look at the data at NASA Giss, NSF sea sediment data, NOAA CO2 data, the ice core data, 2000 year and 500 million year temperature and CO2 reconstructions you will find a tiny problem, the research does not prove man caused CO2 or natural CO2 causes any global climate change.  We are currently at the same temperature as in Roman times after coming out of the little ice age in 1990 when we reached the temperature of 1225.  We have not yet reached the temperature of 1000 AD which is predicted to be hit in 2100.  CO2 lags warming and does not warm the global climate.  The lag is about 1000 years per the ice core studies so all the current warming is caused by something that happened a 1000 years ago.

  • Dollysuetoo

    If you look to your local Energy Plant, you can’t help but see the bellowing black crud blackening the air 24/7 !  Here in Riverview, Fl. it’s SICKENING!  The American Lung Association gave us an “F” air rating…  The POLLUTION is everywhere!  Lockheed has a CR5 invention that would capture and recycle, yet they refuse to manufacture? The FIX Technology EXISTS, BIG BUSINESS WON’T PRESENT and IMPLEMENT!

  • art

    typical PBS/liberal reporting.
    if the use of fossil fuel is causing global warming(big lie) then why not put an end to the production of fossil fuels and the use of it? if the use of smoking cigarettes is such a bad thing then why not ban cigarettes? the US government receives huge sums of money through taxes on all these corporations. lawyers are nothing more than parasites, and politicians are the scum of the earth. enough said…

  • Airlooled

     Never the less.
    To believe that you can continually pump garbage into the atmosphere and not expect consequence is foolish.

  • mbee1

    Airtooled, we should not pollute the earth after all we live here, the problem is the climate is warming but CO2 is not doing the warming and never has.  CO2 lags the warming, something else is the driver.  The eco freaks just want to steal your tax dollars and fund themselves and their favorite fancy. 

  • mbee1

    You know this because, God or Al Gore told you this?  The problem is to many people yet niether you nor any of the other folks all so worried will acknowledge that huge problem.

  • mbee1

    D, person, you really should take your meds and have a cup of coffee.  There is no such invention as you claim.  Your power plant is apparently a coal burning plant with minimal soot removers.  If you really care how about lobbying the legislature to require another fuel or more soot removers equipment.

  • GRCorpus

    It’s simple.  People want to have lots of children.  Children become consumers. Consumers want energy.  More consumers means more energy .  More energy means more pollution.  Anyone with more than 2 children is the cause and that includes the Romneys.  You know who you are…take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming the other guy. Your phony analysis will sink this ship.  And to the pundits — even if climate change isn’t technology related, there’s a score of other problems caused by man’s overpopulation. Even if you can afford 4 or 5 children, the planet cannot.

  • John Ross

    mbee1 – You’re right. If people peacefully spread family planning to reduce population half the pollution would disappear and we could safely recycle the rest. That’s what my home page has been saying for years. But people follow their instincts, not their common sense.