… is legal fees. “One kid says that his family’s farm has been damaged by drought and wildfire. Another says that his childhood home has been devalued by rising sea levels. A third alleges an assault on his whole culture as man-made climate change upends the natural world.
These and 18 other “youth plaintiffs” (ages 8 to 19) sued the federal government on Wednesday, walking a first-of-its-kind constitutional claim up the courthouse steps in Eugene, Oregon. The kids argue that inaction on climate change is a violation of their right to life, liberty and property. And they demand that President Obama, seven federal departments and the Environmental Protection Agency act immediately to preserve the climate for “future generations.”
Perhaps the key part of the MSNBC story is ““This case presents the opportunity for a landmark decision like Brown v. Board of Education (on racial equality) or Obergefell v. Hodges (on marriage equality),” Julia Olson, one of the kids’ lawyers, wrote in a briefing sent to msnbc. It asks the court to decide whether children have a constitutional right to protection from fossil fuel policies that “knowingly create dangerous climate change.”
Olson is executive director of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that has spearheaded climate-related lawsuits in all 50 states. All have fallen short of success in one way or another. But this new federal filing goes further than anything the group – or anyone else – has filed in the past.
It includes a claim by James Hansen, a climate researcher who headed NASA’s Goddard’s Institute for Space Studies for more than 30 years and first warned Congress of global warming in 1988. Hansen’s granddaughter is one of the plaintiffs, and Hansen himself—fresh from calling Obama’s climate change policies “practically worthless”—is listed as a “guardian for future generations.”
So, a lawyer for a green organization has filed lawsuits in 50 states and persuaded 18 kids to sign on as victims. But victims of what?
Tia Marie Hatton, an 18-year-old plaintiff from Oregon, told msnbc “They depend on a healthy climate and right now that healthy climate is being negatively impacted by the government allowing and promoting the use of fossil fuel.”
Although the EPA has recently damaged the environment by inadvertently spilling mine tailings into a river, that wasn’t in Oregon. The seven inches of sea level rise in Oregon has not materially affected the lives of Oregonians. Farmers in the estuaries of the Oregonian river basis have been building dikes to protect their farms. Well, actually they started doing that in the 1880s.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Oregon was in Pendleton. In umm, well, 1898. The warmest 30-year period ever recorded in Portland was from 1921 to 1950. The driest year Portland ever saw was in 1978, barely beating the previous record set in 1923.
So I’m struggling to see present climate damages.
I also am wondering why the U.S. government is responsible for the climate of the world. Even if you accept that the U.S. led the world in emissions for many years, it wasn’t the government doing the emitting. It was that group of nefarious bastards also known as ‘us.’ We got us where we are.
As for the U.S. government being responsible for future climate, well, even if the U.S. stopped all emissions today–100%–the increased emissions of China would bring the level back up to today’s in a decade. And then emissions would continue to increase.
Does the organization Our Children’s Trust advocate war with China to reduce global emissions? Should Barack Obama vacate the agreement he reached with the Chinese to limit their emissions starting in 2030?
There have been lawsuits filed against various government bodies that were actually supported and financed by government bodies including the EPA. I’d like to know if the EPA supports this lawsuit. I’d like to know if they’re funding it. I’d kinda like to file an amicus curiae brief to defend the government from what is essentially a frivolous lawsuit.
And yes, Our Children’s Trust is in Eugene, not Portland, but who can resist?