appeared in an Oregon District Court on Wednesday, part of a lawsuit against President Obama for encouraging the use of fossil fuels. They also claim this is leading to increased global warming, which is a violation of their constitutional rights. Similar to a suit that was filed last summer in Massachusetts, in which the judge threw out the case, the children aged 8 to 19 seek to hold “President Obama and various federal agencies responsible for continued fossil fuel exploitation” and the “alleged failure to prevent the harmful impact of climate change.”Backed by an environmental group and climate activist James Hansen, 21 kids
The suit was originally filed on August 12, 2015, and Judge Thomas Coffin heard oral arguments yesterday on whether to dismiss the climate change case brought by 21 young people from around the nation. The plaintiffs say that the government has known for 50 years that using fossil fuels like oil and natural gas are causing global warming and that “continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize the climate system.” They hope their case will put the science of global warming in “front of the federal judiciary” and show how the government has been complicit in exploiting the usage of these dino fuels.
Ironically, some may see this case as the children being exploited by the environmental group Our Children’s Trust and co-plaintiff climate activist James Hansen. Hansen has publicly said he believes global warming is the biggest threat facing mankind and has written that nuclear energy is our salvation. He also said that the recent talks in Paris where nations agreed to try and avert temperatures by 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius was “a fraud really, a fake.” Hansen wants to make fossil fuels so expensive they are cost prohibitive to use.
Hansen, also considered the “godfather” of the modern-day global warming movement, originally gave testimony in 1988 on the perils of carbon dioxide and rising temperatures in his capacity as a NASA climate scientist. In his presentation to a joint House and Senate committee, he said temperatures would go up .35 degrees Celsius over the next ten years. He overestimated that number by 300 percent. And a new paper released in late February showed that there was a global warming hiatus that lasted nearly 21 years, ending only after a very strong El Niño formed in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The plaintiffs said in a statement that, “The Federal Government has known for decades that fossil fuels are destroying the climate system. No less important than in the Civil Rights cases, Plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the President to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) to a safe level: 350 ppm by the year 2100.” But the president has created a plan to reduce CO2 levels, but the Supreme Court has placed it on hold while the states and other groups have a chance to litigate its legality.
Since measuring began in the late 1950s, CO2 levels have risen about two parts per million (ppm) each year despite all the new onerous rules and regulations Obama and the EPA have implemented since the president took office. At 400 ppm, some scientists say its the highest it’s been in the last 640,000 years, though that estimate has been disputed and relies on ice core data taken from Antarctica. Prior to that, CO2 levels have fluctuated far higher than pre-industrial levels with beneficial consequences. One such period, known as the Cambrian period, had CO2 levels at 4500 ppm, or 16 times higher than pre-industrial levels.
If the case is allowed to move forward, the plaintiffs are asking the court to find the government responsible for “violating the children’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property and equal protection under the law.” According to lead attorney Julia Olson, who is also the executive director at Our Children’s Trust, the “purpose of this case is to obtain an order from a federal court requiring the United States government, including the President and specific federal agencies, to develop a national plan to protect our atmosphere” and to stabilize the climate.