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Notes from the Editors, June 2016

- The Editors

Abstract


On April 8, 2016, in what has already become a historic case on the climate, Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the United States District Court of Oregon ruled against a motion to dismiss, in favor of the youthful plaintiffs in the Children's Trust lawsuit (Kelley Cascade Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States of America, et al.) and against the defendants, consisting of the federal government and the fossil-fuel industry. The twenty-one young people constituting the principal plaintiffs, ranging in age from 8 to 21, insist that the federal government has an obligation to protect the climate for the future on their behalf under the public trust doctrine, based on the fifth and ninth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. They claim, as stated in Coffin's ruling, that "government action and inaction…threatens catastrophic consequences".… The plaintiffs in the suit also include climatologist James Hansen, as a guardian for future generations.… The defendants' argument to dismiss was directed principally at what they contended were limits on the federal government's public trust responsibility. It thus turned on whether the United States was obligated simply to follow capitalist precepts with respect to the natural-physical environment, or whether the government had a public trust to maintain the environment for the population and for future generations, going beyond the rules of the market.

Keywords


Climate Change; Stagnation; Ecology; Political Economy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14452/MR-068-02-2016-06_0

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