Sunday, August 16, 2015

Climate Change Lawsuits Are Starting

We have discussed on this blog the idea of lawsuits, similar to the one that found the Dutch government negligent in addressing climate change. I am in favor of such lawsuits. In my opinion, the situation is almost identical to what we saw with the tobacco industry situation. We saw how the science was conclusive in establishing a link between smoking and lung disease, but the merchants of doubt were paid by the tobacco industry to question this science and prevent any action being taken to protect the public. Instead, politicians took funds from the tobacco industry and blocked any actions that would have benefited their constituents. The politicians gladly took the money and all the while, their constituents were dieing from tobacco use.

Today, we have the identical situation. The science establishing the link between manmade emissions and global climate change is absolutely conclusive and the scientific community is in agreement about that link. But, the fossil fuel industry has funded deniers to act as the modern merchants of doubt and cause the public to question the science. And, we see many politicians taking funds from the fossil fuel industry and blocking any effort to address the problem. And, their constituents are dieing as a result.

So, the situation is identical. The tobacco issue was finally resolved in the courts. Most notably when the tobacco industry was found guilty under the RICO Act. The evidence is mounting that the fossil fuel industry, like the tobacco industry before them, conclusively knew the dangers of their industry, but funded efforts to protect their interests in complete disregard of the public well-being.

Well, it looks like the lawsuits have started. A group of 21 youths filed suit against the U.S. asserting that, in causing climate change, the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property and has failed to protect essential public trust resources. The person behind this suit is 15-year old Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez. The basic premise of the lawsuit is that the government has known of the dangers of global warming and climate change since at least 1965 but has failed to act on the danger, thus endangering the well-being of future generations. The lawsuit seeks to force the government to take all necessary actions to protect the rights and well-being of its citizens.

I find their complaint compelling. What I hope is that the pattern has been established of how the merchants of doubt are working to defy the science, not to produce legitimate science. If the court recognizes the pattern of behavior, maybe, just maybe, we might see some justice.

Either way, I do not expect this issue to be resolved this quickly and easily. But, the fight needs to start somewhere. Someone needs to take it out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the public. This is a start, and its a good one.

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