Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against ‘Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life’

February 25, 2017
Posted in Blog
February 25, 2017 Editor

Published on Friday, February 24, 2017 by Common Dreams

photo above: The climate kids asked the court to declare that their constitutional and public trust rights have been violated and to order the government to develop a science-based National Climate Recovery Plan to reduce emissions to a climate-safe level. (Photo: Our Children’s Trust)

Why ‘Climate Kids’ vs. Trump is no ordinary lawsuit

By Jeremy Brecher

WN: It is astounding that “intelligent” people disbelieve the overwhelming evidence of Anthropocene (human-caused) climate change. Not unlike widespread denial of the theory of evolution by conservative Christians, a theory that has not been rejected in 150 years of scientific testing, with the field of genetics alone forcing the creation of the theory of evolution (would have!), had Darwin not beaten geneticists to a formulation of it 150 years ago! See here for a Christian affirmation of evolution in light of genomic science.

According to this article in Independent:

Human activity is changing Earth’s climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to scientists who claim they have devised an equation that shows people are behind global warming.

According to researchers, global temperatures decreased by 0.01C per century over the last 7,000 years—the “baseline” rate. But in the last 45 years it has increased by the equivalent of 1.7C per century, and the 12 warmest years on record have come since 1998, they said.

While “astronomical and geophysical” as well as biospheric forces have driven change in the “Earth system” over its four billion-year existence, human activity has “driven exceptionally rapid rates of change” that the authors of a new study have represented in an “Anthropocene equation”….

Mr Gaffney [co-author of new study] … added: “While it would seem imprudent to ignore the huge body of evidence pointing to profound risks, it comes at a challenging time geopolitically, when both fact-based world views and even international cooperation are questioned. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the US in recent weeks.”

Sadly, often the same religious people who deny evolution also deny the findings of the science of climate change. And so many of their leaders such as Franklin Graham represent and urge a widespread politics of fear and exclusion of “The Other”; and in numbers of white Evangelicals in America, voted for Trump (who trades solely in a politics of fear and exclusion of the other – not to mention denial of human caused climate change) to the tune of four in five.

an excerpt:

The Fifth Amendment to the United States constitution bars the federal government from depriving a person of “life, liberty, or property” without “due process of law.” The climate kids say that the aggregate actions of the federal government that have permitted, perpetuated, and subsidized our nation’s exploitation of fossil fuels does just that – and that the policies of the federal government violate their rights.

The lawsuit alleges that the government has violated their rights by “directly causing atmospheric C02 to rise to levels that dangerously interfere with a stable climate system.” The government knowingly endangered their “health and welfare” by “approving and promoting fossil fuel development,” including “exploration, extraction, production, transportation, importation, exportation, and combustion.” And after “knowingly creating this dangerous situation” it continued to “knowingly enhance that danger” by “allowing fossil fuel production, consumption, and combustion at dangerous levels.” These government decisions have caused the planet to warm and the oceans to rise.

The climate kids say these policies not only violate their individual constitutional rights, but also the duty of the government to preserve the core natural resources like air and water necessary to provide for the well-being and survival of our citizens – our common property that is legally protected as part of the “public trust.” Their suit says that the government has violated its duty as trustee of the public trust by allowing the depletion and destruction of the atmosphere – an essential natural resource for the survival of present and future generations.

In January 2016, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the American Petroleum Institute, representing almost the entire fossil fuel industry, intervened in the case on the government’s side and joined the government as defendants.

Juliana v. United States is going to trial in the midst of the greatest movement of civil resistance in American history. The struggle to protect the earth’s climate is a critical part of what some are calling “Social Self-Defense.” This case provides an opportunity to put climate protection front and center in Social Self-Defense. The “right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life” can be emblazoned on its banner along with the rights of immigrants, women, LGBT people, people of color, workers, women, children, the elderly, the disabled, and all the others Social Self-Defense is defending.

The climate kids asked the court to declare that their constitutional and public trust rights have been violated and to order the government to develop a science-based National Climate Recovery Plan to reduce emissions to a climate-safe level. The case will no doubt be fought out for years all the way to the Supreme Court. But the advocates of climate protection need not wait to champion the basic principles enshrined in Judge Aiken’s decision. We can and must support the efforts of the climate kids both in court and in every arena where decisions affecting the future of our climate are made.

Please click on: Climate Change Lawsuit

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Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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