It was legal teams—not politicians—that ultimately held the tobacco industry to account. Their next target? Perpetrators of climate change

Mitch Anderson at Reasons to be Cheerful:

Lawyers are one of America’s most distrusted professions, bringing up the rear behind even bankers and local politicians. But what if lawyers end up saving the world?

Scientists have been warning for years that mounting carbon emissions are dangerously destabilizing our climate. Efforts to tackle this urgent challenge through the political process have so far come up far short of the action needed to avoid some very bad outcomes.

Can litigation succeed where politics has so far failed?

We’ve actually been here before. Several decades ago it also seemed the tobacco industry was an invincible foe to public health. Over the course of decades, however, a series of long-shot lawsuits finally enfeebled this previously unassailable political lobby. Civil litigation against cigarette manufacturers began in the 1950s, but did not bear fruit until 40 years later in a series of court victories that culminated in the $206 billion Master Settlement Agreement with 46 U.S. states.

Terms of this judgment included halting advertising smoking to children, funding anti-smoking campaigns with industry money and dissolving three of the biggest tobacco industry organizations.

More here.