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Climate Is Literally the Tip of the Iceberg

On June 30, 2022, the Supreme Court made a decision regarding West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), restricting the EPA’s powers to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. The ruling will inhibit President Joe Biden’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. 

In a Market Watch article, Dr. Steve Cohen, former EPA analyst, current Sustainability Management professor and senior vice dean of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, states, “Climate is literally the tip of the iceberg. The [ruling] attacks the very foundation of modern regulation. In the face of today’s complex, technological world, conservative state attorneys general and right-wing jurists are demanding a degree of legislative specificity that is impossible for non-experts to articulate.”

Dr. Cohen continues by explaining that the ruling spotlights another issue: “regulatory over-reach.” He says, “Scientific experts, like Supreme Court justices, can become a little full of themselves and reach for powers they should not exercise… We need rules to navigate technological complexity and ensure it is steered to serve the public interest. Non-experts cannot formulate those rules.”

On a daily basis, most of our lives are dominated by technology that the average person does not control nor understand. Therefore, we need experts to help navigate, understand, and manage risks. As a complex issue, climate change must be discussed, and as Dr. Cohen says, “informed by science and with as few preconceived notions as possible.” Dr. Cohen concludes, “we face a serious issue of governance that is being trivialized by economic interests and conservative ideology instead of being the subject of meaningful and open debate.”

In an interview with Fox Weather, Dr. Cohen was asked, “With this loss of regulation, what can be done to slow down the advancement of climate change?” He responded, “ [The EPA] needs to work with the states and try to provide incentives for utilities to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.” 

To read more about the Supreme Court decision and more on Dr. Steve Cohen, visit the links below: