“Most Republicans offline say that climate change is real and we are a major factor in that,” Hansen explained. In public, however, such lawmakers tend to err on the side of climate denial.
“They feel threatened by the potential opposition of the most extreme elements in their party which can challenge them in the primaries – and people have lost their seat by saying climate change is a real issue.”
Hansen suggests that this study, and the associated court case, is a more visceral attempt designed to convince judges instead. Politicians can easily lie and prevaricate in public, but when it comes to the Judicial Branch, due process, facts, and evidence matter more.
“We have to take advantage of the fact that the judiciary is less susceptible to that pressure. They can declare something to be unconstitutional.”
The science within the paper, written in a noticeably more accessible way than most academic tomes, is certainly frightening on a visceral level. Sophie Kivlehan, one of the co-plaintiffs in the court case and Hansen’s granddaughter, seemed to suggest to IFLScience that this isn’t a bad thing.
“Making a skeptic think of the problem as personal – and maybe scaring them a little bit” is the best way to convince them that action needs to be taken, she posits, rather than framing it as an “abstract problem”.
If the study does indeed prove to be enough to win over the courts, then climate-denying politicians will have no choice but to agree to a plan to save the planet from a climate change nightmare. Imagine that: A world in which facts triumph over falsehoods, and where the Constitutional right to life and liberty are informed by scientific information.