With climate change reduced to a derisive footnote by Republican candidates and Congressional majorities, you may have missed recent reports of 2015 being the warmest year ever recorded (overtaking, um, 2014); missed the study on the worldwide demise of coral reefs; and missed new research updating the alarming state of the Antarctic ice sheet. And you almost certainly missed Thomas M. Coffin’s decision on Friday in Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al; v The United States of America, “a relatively unprecedented lawsuit” filed by young people (ages 8-19), activists who assert the public trust is being harmed by fossil fuel exploitation, and James Hansen, the NASA scientist-become-guardian for “future generations.” On the other side, the National Association of Manufacturers, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute joined the government’s motion to dismiss the suit.
Judge Coffin denied the motion. Writing that “plaintiffs assert a novel theory somewhere between a civil rights action and NEPA/Clean Air Act/Clean Water Act suit,” he affirmed (1) their standing to sue and (2) the applicability of the “public trust doctrine” to the federal government.
For those who see only more political overreach by the courts – and it’s probably not a coincidence the suit was filed in Oregon instead of Alabama – consider that those who are responsible for actually governing cities around the world, including the mayors of Florida, are very concerned about the impact of climate change. They are not saying they know everything, but they are taking action . . . just in case.
But not the know-nothings. They know better.