There’s a federal court case, Juliana v. United States, in the works in which the plaintiffs argue that the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness obligates the government to maintain a sustainable, livable atmosphere — or, at least, support legislation in good faith that limits how much we can poison it. That sounds like a good idea to me.
The plaintiffs, who include 21 people ranging in age from 11 to 22, allege that the government has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by failing to prevent dangerous climate change. They are asking the district court to order the federal government to prepare a plan that will ensure the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere falls below 350 parts per million by 2100, down from an average of 405 parts per million in 2017.
How can you argue against that? The Trump administration has a simple defense.
By contrast, the US Department of Justice argues thatthere is no right to ‘a climate system capable of sustaining human life’— as the Juliana plaintiffs assert.
That is not the answer I expected. Hemming and hawing about the practicality of limiting greenhouse gasses, sure; endless lying about whether climate change is a temporary phase, or about the desirability of warming up the planet by a few degrees, or claiming that we might be getting a little warmer, but there is no threat to our existence…I could imagine all that coming out of Republicans in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry.
But to announce that they feel no compulsion to provide an environment compatible with life? That’s a new one.