The ultimate gridlock

As reported in Environmental Finance (March 2012) over a hundred cases have been filed in the US courts against companies accused of causing global warming.  Plaintiffs include states such as California and Connecticut, property owners and Eskimos.

This is the true free-market response to climate change.  We don’t need laws.  We just need courts and wise judges.  Isn’t that how justice has been done since the very first tribesmen took their disputes over goats to village elders?

Eventually one case will hit.  A renegade judge, approaching retirement, and seeing his chances of celebrity trickling away like sand through the hour glass, will give the nod.

Instantly a great thundering will be heard from the heavens, clouds will blacken, crows will swarm in ugly and fearful formations, ants will stand ominously on their hind legs, dogs will whimper, and our two gods, Justice and Enterprise, will draw their daggers and tear, in blind fury, at each other’s throats.  Our whole civilisation will clasp at its ears to block off those horrible sounds of hot flesh being ripped and bones being snapped.  For that judgment will make our existence untenable.

The defendant utility will collapse like a house of cards under a tsunami of claims.  Then all other utilities will.  Heavy industry will follow.  Their bonds and loans worthless, their covenants stripped bare, the banking sector will disintegrate.  The printing presses of governments will heave into action again.

As the plaintiffs rejoice, dancing on the mangled corpses of coal-fired power stations and oil refineries, others, more daring, will start to sue private individuals for driving cars too fast and over-heating their homes.  Then, as we collapse into a beastly, gristly orgy of litigation, we will sue ourselves, since we, ultimately, are the ones at fault.

Everyone eventually owed himself or herself millions of dollars.  Overnight we became billionaires and bankrupts and the workings of our society ground to a halt … dandelion and knapweed encroached into places they hadn’t seen for decades.

One person who survived the frenzy was Dame Daphne Bulge [1].  It all happened when she was still … svelte; she had hidden under the kitchen table – in those days she fitted there quite neatly.  And that was the first time that Godfrey Wolfram-Harbinger set eyes on her.  As a first-year trainee at leading law-firm, Herbert and Herbert, he had been sent out to search for survivors of that legal Armageddon, and had found Daphne cowering under the table, a frightened yet shapely filly, all trembling.  Godfrey, who decades later would be Sir Godfrey, Minister of Justice, took charge of the situation. Not one to take advantage, he did. They never looked back.

 

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[1] See, for example, http://www.thebustard.com/?p=354

 

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