Will 21 young plaintiffs ultimately be able to persuade a conservative-dominated US Supreme Court that the federal government is violating their constitutional right to a livable planet? It depends on whether the Court is willing to heed the scientific evidence.
.. In 1992, countries, including the US, China, India, and all European states (and a total of 189 by 2006) accepted responsibility for addressing climate change. Meeting at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, they agreed to stabilize greenhouse gases “at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”
The agreement did not specify what level is low enough to prevent such dangerous interference with our climate, but the scientific consensus is that to allow the global temperature to rise to an average of more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is to risk catastrophe.
.. The first climate litigation to win a positive decision was Urgenda Foundation v. The State of Netherlands, in which a Dutch court ruled, in 2015, that the government must ensure that the country’s emissions are cut by one quarter within five years.
.. Juliana v. United States is by far the most significant climate case to date. If ever a case has deserved to be called “the trial of the century,” this is it.
.. The US is the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas emitter, and its per capita emissions are about twice those of the largest emitter, China.
.. If we take the view that every person on this planet is entitled to an equal share of the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb our greenhouse-gas emissions, then the US is emitting 3.5 times its fair share. The US emits more greenhouse gases than India, for example, although it has only one-quarter of the population.
Moreover, the principle of equal per capita emissions is generous to the old industrialized countries, because it ignores their historical responsibility for the past emissions that have led to the situation we face today.
.. The plaintiffs claim that their government’s active contribution to climate change has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. When the government sought to prevent the case from being heard, the federal district court of Oregon issued a historic ruling that “the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
.. When Juliana v. United States is appealed to the US Supreme Court, as seems inevitable, the question may no longer be whether the preservation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights requires “a climate system capable of sustaining human life”; it undeniably does. Instead, the Court will have to decide whether it is willing to heed the scientific evidence that the actions of the US government are indeed jeopardizing the survival of human life on our planet. If it is, even the most conservative justices will find it difficult to escape the conclusion that the government is in violation of the US Constitution.
the other day, EJ Dionne praised a piece by Ramesh and me on the need to criticize Trump. I responded:Thanks.
That’s fine and I agree (and have been). But I think liberals should also think about how they invited the backlash that Trump rode. There’s plenty of blame across the ideological spectrum.
My tweet elicited a torrent of question-begging, self-righteous bilge from liberals who couldn’t imagine that liberals have any role in the mess that we are in. Assaults on free speech, the constant mockery and condescension from the commanding heights of Blue America, the refusal to consider any reasonable reforms to immigration, Hillary Clinton’s dynastic entitlement and contempt for “deplorables,” and the pushing of identity politics seem always to be noble do-goodery without a smidgen of overreach.
.. Michael Anton, who penned “The Flight 93 Election” back when he was hiding behind a pen-name, articulated very well in an exchange with me what millions of conservatives believe to be true:
The old American ideal of judging individuals and not groups, content-of-character-not-color-of-skin, is dead, dead, dead. Dead as a matter of politics, policy and culture. The left plays by new rules. The right still plays by the old rules. The left laughs at us for it — but also demands that we keep to that rulebook. They don’t even bother to cheat. They proclaim outright that “these rules don’t apply to our side.”
.. I disagree with Anton’s prescription — to surrender to identity politics and cheat the way our “enemies” do — but I cannot argue much with this description of a widespread mindset. Many on the right are surrendering to the logic of the mob because they are sick of double standards. Again, I disagree with the decision to surrender, but I certainly empathize with the temptation. The Left and the mainstream media can’t even see how they don’t want to simply win, they want to force people to celebrate their victories (“You will be made to care!”). It isn’t forced conversion at the tip of a sword, but at the blunt edge of a virtual mob.
.. Kevin Williamson’s views on abortion put him outside the mainstream. And he was fired from The Atlantic merely for refusing to recant them.
Meanwhile, extreme views on the left are simply hot takes or even signs of genius. Take the philosopher Peter Singer. He has at least as extreme views on a host of issues, and he is feted and celebrated for them. He is the author of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on “Ethics.” He holds an endowed chair at Princeton. He writes regularly for leading publications. And he argues that sometimes it’s okay to kill babies, as in his essay “Killing Babies Isn’t Always Wrong.” “Newborn human babies,” he writes, “have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” He cutely asks whether people should cease to exist. (He ultimately and grudgingly answers “No.”) Oh, he also argues in favor of bestiality.
And he’s been profiled favorably in the pages of The Atlantic.
How my brother who could never walk or talk coached dozens of his peers into manhood.
Most famously advanced by John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism argues that an action is good only because it maximizes a given benefit. This school of thought’s most prominent champion today is the Australian philosopher Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. In Singer’s version of utilitarianism – which is in many ways just an especially forthright articulation of our culture’s worldview – to act ethically means to seek to maximize the satisfaction of people’s desires. This, in Singer’s view, also means that we must seek to minimize the suffering of people unable to have or express preferences – if necessary, through terminating their lives before or after birth. People such as Duane.
.. For many in this camp, not all members of the human species are considered persons. Personhood, they argue, requires self-awareness and the ability to conceive of future goals and plans: to experience oneself as having interests.
.. In Christian terms, an action is good not only because it has beneficial consequences, but because it is good in itself. What’s more, good actions have the power to change for the better those who do them.
.. Whatever his level of intellectual development, he was someone. Someone who, even in Singer’s terms, had interests, someone who had a good purpose for which he was made.
.. As kids we prayed confidently for miraculous healing, sure that the next morning he’d run out of his room to meet us. But sooner or later, the realization caught up with each of us: D is D, and he’s here, as he is, for a reason.
.. It is not that Christianity glorifies suffering for its own sake. Even Jesus suffered on the cross “for the sake of the joy that was set before him.” It is not that Christian teaching denies that sickness should, and will, be healed. Rather, we are convinced that God is in the business of exalting the lowly, that he takes his place in the frailest of bodies, that his “power is made perfect in weakness.”
.. To crack a cold heart, to train it in love, is the most liberating service any person can do for another. These gifts do not show up on an ultrasound. They aren’t mentioned in the first diagnosis of disability.
.. Could the quest to eliminate others’ suffering be a disguised attempt to distance ourselves from pain, because we fear there is no way through it?
.. Is it possible to protect ourselves from grief? What if we end up protecting ourselves from love?
.. he was able to contribute because his community knew that he was valuable anyway, as a brother. His presence with us brought the image of God to light – within him and within those who cared for him.