In California, Cars Drive You


California filed a lawsuit against the six largest automakers operating in the United States, contending that car and truck emissions are causing global warming, injuring the state's environment, economy and endangering public health.

Further down in that news report (from Washington Post via San Jose Mercury News site):

The complaint blames global warming for raising sea levels along the state's coastline, increasing ozone pollution in big cities, increasing the threat of wildfires and reducing the fresh water flowing from mountain snow packs.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer pegged current damages at "tens of millions of dollars." He said the amount could grow as the lawsuit fight continues over time.

"Money is being spent in our regulatory system preparing for small disruptions in the water supply due to the smaller snow pack, saltwater intrusion of the water supply, beach erosion," Lockyer said in an interview Wednesday. "There is a lot of spending that is already ongoing that we are claiming. The point is, taxpayers shouldn't pay for those damages, the industry should."

Obviously, incredibly complicated questions of causation and blame are involved here (which, we can confidently predict, may or may not be handled with exquisite precision and justice as this lawsuit proceeds and the amount of cash involved, as Lockyer predicts, grows) but an early step along the path ought to be answering the question…who is driving the cars? As a California driver, I'm pretty sure it isn't any of the automakers currently being sued. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that the problems that Lockyer insists California taxpayers should not be paying for may–in some cases–be caused by California taxpayer themselves.