This was a story which first popped up a week ago, but I’d originally assumed it was an article from The Onion. Hey, who knew? Turns out it’s real. CNN covered it last Friday and it deals with a group of mostly children (plaintiffs ranging in age from 9-20) who are suing the United States government because… (drum roll) climate change is threatening their future. The interesting aspect of their coverage was that they assumed that this was going to be a problem for Donald Trump.
President-elect Donald Trump is likely to find himself the subject of a federal court case next year. The subject: climate change. And the plaintiffs: 21 children who want to ensure they have the right to a livable atmosphere.
A federal judge on Thursday denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss the “climate kids” case, meaning their lawsuit over climate change will go to trial in federal court in Oregon, likely next year.
The kid plaintiffs, ages 9 to 20, allege the federal government is doing far too little to keep dangerous global warming in check, and is actually creating warming by leasing federal property for fossil fuel extraction.The basic idea is that politicians have failed to fix the climate crisis.So the courts need to force them to do so.
I’m not sure who put these kids up to this but the approach is almost a sure fire winner for whoever thought of it. It doesn’t even matter if the suit actually succeeds because it’s got all the catnip required to be a huge hit with the media. Anything with kids “taking on the system” is a ratings grabber and when you toss in their insistence that America stop using fossil fuels (which is a major concern for most nine year olds I’m sure) it’s a left leaning media dream script.
The real bonus, however, was that it was released just after the election so CNN obviously assumed it would land in Donald Trump’s lap. That’s just bonus gravy on the dish right there. But as it turns out, one lefty, environmentalist site dug further into the details and the actual defendant in the case won’t be quite as popular with the media. (Treehugger.com, emphasis added)
According to Motherboard, the lawsuit, which is being spearheaded by Our Children’s Trust, a civic engagement nonprofit for youth, charges President Obama, the fossil fuel industry, and other federal agencies for violating the plantiffs’ constitutional right to life, liberty, property, and to vital public trust resources, by continuing to use fossil fuels.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2015, and is supported by noted climate scientist James Hansen, who is a co-plaintiff in the case, as guardian for his granddaughter and for future generations. Since last year, lawyers for the defendants from various governmental organizations have attempted to get the case dismissed on various grounds, including the question of whether minors can defend their constitutional rights like adults, as well as asserting that climate change is not caused by humans.
Naming President Obama in the suit is probably the cherry on top of this highly amusing cake. As to the merit of the suit itself there is little to be said. I’m not talking about a question of whether or not children can be allowed to bring a suit. Assuming they have the permission of a parent or guardian (who no doubt put them up to it) or are emancipated, they clearly could. The larger issue is whether or not there is any merit in the suit itself. Even if you believe that climate change is 100% anthropogenic in nature, holding one group of people currently in charge of government policy accountable for the entire process is absurd. Expand that idea to include the fact that other countries are far worse contributors to pollution of all kinds and any economically feasible reductions by our nation would never offset them and you have a case which no reasonable jury would entertain.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this case will never go anywhere. But someone saw fit to allow it to move forward and the anti-energy media will have a field day with it during the slow, post-election news cycle.