Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Massachusetts v. EPA. The outcome of the case will “likely determine whether the [Environmental Protection Agency] can regulate [greenhouse gas emissions] from power plants and other industries.”
Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, who argued the case for the administration, admitted to the Justices that he had limited knowledge of climate science. “I am not an expert on global climate change,” Garre said.
Despite being uninformed in this “extraordinarily complex area of science,” Garre tried to introduce an element of doubt into the link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. From Slate’s account of the arguments:
Justice Stephen Breyer lights into Garre for some of the agency’s silly reasoning in declining to regulate the emissions. When Garre says that scientific uncertainty alone can justify the EPA’s refusal to regulate, Justice John Paul Stevens asks whether it matters that even the scientists who worked on the National Research Counsel study on global warming felt there was less scientific uncertainty than the EPA claimed. Garre insists that there is a “likely connection” between greenhouse gases and global warming but that “it cannot unequivocally be established.”
There is no doubt among the experts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body which involves thousands of scientists from over 120 countries who develop detailed reports on climate change, produced a report in 2001 which was reviewed by more than 1,000 top experts, including so-called “climate skeptics” and representatives from industry. The report stated, “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”
Most recently, the National Academy of Sciences unequivocally concluded that natural causes cannot explain the unprecedented warmth over the last 400 years, and “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.”