Home | About | Donate

The Lawsuit That Could Save the Planet


The Lawsuit That Could Save the Planet

John Light

Donald Trump’s election to the presidency is a devastating blow to the environmental community, coming at a crucial juncture in the fight against climate change. As Rebecca Leber and Ben Adler write for Grist, nearly all of President Barack Obama’s climate legacy probably will be undone in the Trump administration.


First, one note of caution. While the article does not disclose the motion that was before the court, it appears to be a ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, probably asserting that plaintiff's petition fails to state a viable cause of action. The following passage of the article, then, may slightly overstate the nature of the court's ruling:

They will not be able to come into that courtroom and bring their climate denialism agenda.”

Indeed, as Judge Aiken wrote in her decision allowing the case to go to trial: “This lawsuit is not about proving that climate change is happening or that human activity is driving it. For the purposes of this motion, those facts are undisputed.”

When ruling on the question of whether the plaintiffs have put forth a valid cause of action, the court assumes, without actually finding, that the facts alleged in the plaintiffs petition are true. Thus, the courts ruling does not foreclose the defendants from attempting to prove their climate denial position at trial.

That said, the court's ruling is important because it finds that, if the plaintiffs' alleged facts are found to be true at trial, then the defendants can be held responsible for the consequences.

The other shoe that needs to fall, and soon, is for the fossil fuel industry and their executive managers to be held liable for the damages from climate changed caused by their products. A key area to watch, is whether the insurance industry will continue to provide liability insurance to these companies and their executives. When that domino falls, the end of the fossil fuel industry should be near, indeed.


What legacy?

Get a grip - Paris - Copenhagen - Rio 92 - all the way back to 1972 and "The Limits to Growth" - back further to Marion King Hubert, who was saying effectively "The Limits to Growth" ten years earlier, back to Alexander von Humboldt - warning us that the industrial phenomena was destroying nature - I could continue to the dawn of civilization.

ZIP - that what has been actually accomplished.

We are on the fast track both environmentally and socially for complete system breakdown.


Agreed! I almost gagged with "nearly all of President Barack Obama’s climate legacy probably will be undone". Obama and every former president has left a trail of environmental destruction all for corporate profit and the politicians greed. And that doesnt even take into consideration the proliferation of nuclear anything - but especially the damn bombs being upgraded at a cost over 1 trillion taxpayer dollars. Obama's legancy? pffffffffffftttttttttttt.


A much bigger problem than Trump with regard to reducing US emissions is the Republican governors. Congress has left it up to the states to fight climate change. And a few states are doing just that, and they all have Democratic governors. There is no chance the US will reduce emissions enough with all these Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures blocking action. Even if Clinton had won the problem would have been the same. The state governments play the most important role in fighting climate change and too many are not participating. Ultimately the fault lies in the voters who are electing these people. There are too many voters who do not want government to get involved in fighting climate change, often because the voters don't believe the science. Of course eventually the effects of climate change will be so serious that even the voters will want action but tragically it will be too late.


Nice to hear from you Rebel_Farmer !

I used to blog a lot - in the days when the denialist professional lobby was a force to be reckoned with.

Those days may return in force.

I am waiting to buy my blogging laptop - right now I shuttle between home, where my son dominates computer access, and an Apple laptop so old I cannot even access the modern blogging venues fully.

There is a lot of new info on climate change and the biosphere out now, and I am thinking to start again posting these on various threads, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, because the larger picture is still largely under-appreciated.

I've come to believe, reluctantly, that modern capitalism is incompatible with any future worth living, and I cannot get over how many topics Abraham Lincoln seems to have been so prescient on.

America is largely unscientific. Until that changes, there is little hope.

Two quotes from Abe follow, addressing both this thought and modern capitalism:

1) "Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail. Against it, nothing can succeed."

2) "It has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored and others have, without labor, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue."


Recalling the Dubya Regime's war on "activist judges", Judge Aiken may want to hire somebody to start her car in the morning.


Yeah but...doesn't the Donald now get to appoint a brand new shiney clean justice for the Supremes? And what does that mean to this case as it moves. like glacial ice, through the hollowed out halls of justice?


Yeah but...The choices given the voters is to make the pick from the two wings of the same bird of prey. So either way the Corps win and we-the-people lose. Given that we now know that either the democrats and the republicans are actually in not just the pockets of big biz and the MIC but truly in bed with them as well, we the working class are going to have a very hard time establishing any kind of work towards building a more perfect union. It's the choices given us that's the problem, not that we vote for the shills and film-flams. Good grief on the Colorado ballot this year there were 22 candidates for president of the U.S. And those choices all were shadows of the bird of prey with its wings spread menacingly. At best there were three parties that represented a left-tendency but were still supporting the capitalist system in one way or the other. So it's not the voters, it's the system.


Y'all have way too much faith in the system. Back before the Trail of Tears the Cherokee Nation sued Andrew Jackson's administration and won in the Supreme Court. What was jackson's response? "If that's the will of the court, then let them enforce it." jackson went on to commence with the removal of the Cherokee from their lands. You can bet trump will also ignore the court's rulings if he doesn't like them. trump didn't become a billionaire by playing fairly.