The Cuyahoga River on fire. But not when you think.

This Saturday, June 22, marks the 50th anniversary of one of the iconic moments of the modern environmental history—the infamous Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland. Things were so bad, the legend goes, that rivers were catching fire! But most of what you think you know about that story is incomplete or inaccurate, argues Jonathan H. Adler, the Johan Verheij Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In a now-famous article, “Fables of the Cuyahoga,” Adler explains “the rest of the story,” to borrow an old saying. Part of that story is about why subsequent national legislation wasn’t always the best or only remedy for environmental problems.

Like most law professors, Jon is an ardent Supreme Court watcher, so we also talk about jurisprudence, the all-important “Chevron Doctrine” that is now subject of many second thoughts and potential revisions, and how a number of common perceptions of the Supreme Court are inaccurate. And since Jon specializes in environmental law, we also spend a few minutes on what else—climate change.

The bumper music was selected to match our topic: “Carbon Monoxide” by Cake, and “Bad Pollution” by the Zucchini Brothers.

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There are 6 comments.

  1. colleenb Member

    Very interesting interview. I don’t trust the climate change folk (especially since if its a crisis, act like its a crisis which means no air travel, no AC or heat, walk everywhere, etc) to see reason on this. I wish the Professor luck. Also, isn’t scary that he was warned away from a history major all those years ago?

    • #1
    • June 21, 2019, at 10:47 AM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Patrick McClure Member

    “Put a cap on climate change …”? So mankind has the ability to bring stasis to a 4.5 billion year old kinetic system? I cannot take seriously anyone who thinks that we can stabilize the climate. We can stop, as we have, putting pollutants into the air. But mankind neither causes nor can stop global warming or cooling. It is a natural process that has swung from warmer to cooler to warmer, ad infinitum. Professor Adler’s belief that we can “cap” global warming reduces my respect for his intellect. Not that my opinion will make any difference in his life, just like our efforts to adjust “greenhouse gases” will actually make any difference to the climate. 

    • #2
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:15 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Taras Coolidge

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):

    “Put a cap on climate change …”? So mankind has the ability to bring stasis to a 4.5 billion year old kinetic system? I cannot take seriously anyone who thinks that we can stabilize the climate. We can stop, as we have, putting pollutants into the air. But mankind neither causes nor can stop global warming or cooling. It is a natural process that has swung from warmer to cooler to warmer, ad infinitum. Professor Adler’s belief that we can “cap” global warming reduces my respect for his intellect. Not that my opinion will make any difference in his life, just like our efforts to adjust “greenhouse gases” will actually make any difference to the climate.

     The US trying to influence global warming is rather like the passenger in a car trying to avoid an accident up ahead by leaning, when the car is being driven by China and India. 

    • #3
    • June 23, 2019, at 9:36 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. WalterSobchakEsq Thatcher

    Steve: You repeatedly mispronounced the name of the river in question. It is 4 syllables:

    KY ah HOE gah.

    https://www.pronouncenames.com/pronounce/cuyahoga

    • #4
    • August 11, 2019, at 8:19 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Miffed White Male Member

    • #5
    • August 11, 2019, at 8:25 AM PST
    • Like
  6. WalterSobchakEsq Thatcher

    Randy Newman “Burn On”

    There’s a red moon rising

    On the Cuyahoga River

    There’s a red moon rising
    On the Cuyahoga River
    Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

    There’s a red moon rising
    On the Cuyahoga River
    Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

    There’s an oil barge winding
    Down the Cuyahoga River
    Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

    There’s an oil barge winding
    Down the Cuyahoga River
    Rolling into Cleveland to the lake

    Cleveland, city of light, city of magic
    Cleveland, city of light, you’re calling me
    Cleveland, even now I can remember
    Because the Cuyahoga River
    Goes smoking through my dreams

    Burn on, big river, burn on
    Burn on, big river, burn on
    Now the Lord can make you tumble
    And the Lord can make you turn
    And the Lord can make you overflow
    But the Lord can’t make you burn

    Burn on, big river, burn on
    Burn on, big river, burn on

    • #6
    • August 11, 2019, at 8:42 AM PST
    • 1 like