A group of leftist lawyers called the Global Legal Action Network is exploiting four children and two young adults by filing a claim in the European court of human rights claiming climate change is ruining the children’s future. While the suit seeks binding carbon dioxide restrictions on 33 countries, perhaps some European nations should countersue the children for receiving freeloading benefits as a result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

According to an article published over the weekend by Grist, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) has launched a fundraising campaign to pay GLAN to sue on behalf of the children. GLAN claims that summer heat this year in Portugal and forest fires in Portugal three years ago prove the world’s climate is getting worse and Portuguese children are especially impacted.

GLAN’s claimed harms appear minor or nonexistent. Hot temperatures are a normal summer phenomenon in Portugal and around the world. Moreover, recent Portuguese wildfires are intensifying because of factors other than climate change. The science website PhysOrg documents that land-use changes in Portugal during recent decades have resulted in a buildup of dead trees and brush that fuel more intense fires. Moreover, PhysOrg documents that Portuguese tree farmers have switched to highly flammable eucalyptus trees in recent decades to produce paper pulp. Both of these factors make wildfires more likely and severe, even with little or no changes in climate.

While the Portuguese harms appear minor or nonexistent, Portugal is benefiting from a remarkable increase in crop yields as carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere and temperatures modestly rise. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports Portuguese crop yields per acre have increased 40% since 2010, 70% since 2000, 150% since 1990, and 400% since 1980. These are dramatic benefits due largely to carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.

Moreover, scientists have documented that throughout the world, cold temperatures kill 20 times more people than warm or hot temperatures. By reducing cold temperature events, global warming is generating another enormous benefit to the people of Portugal, as well as the world.

Also, NASA satellite instruments have documented a tremendous greening of Portugal during recent decades, with NASA attributing carbon dioxide emissions as the primary catalyst. The NASA image below shows Portugal is enjoying approximately 50% more vegetation and greenery since 1982.

Perhaps GLAN may be able to show a few minor obstacles for Portuguese children caused by global warming, but clearly the benefits to Portuguese children vastly outweigh the harms. It may be time for a countersuit seeking contributions from Portuguese children to help pay for the climate benefits they are receiving for free.

James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland's Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.


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