Today, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District
Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and
Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark
constitutional climate change case brought against the federal
government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a
major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across
the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most
important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs
sued the federal government for violating their constitutional
rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential
public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise
enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of
In denying the motions of the federal government and the fossil fuel
industry, the court’s decision framed the issue as follows:
“Plaintiffs are suing the United States … because the
government has known for decades that carbon dioxide (C02) pollution
has been causing catastrophic climate change and has failed to take
necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. Moreover, Continue reading →
Preacher, speaker, writer under fire, but also tactician. He really
understood the power of nonviolence, a power we’ve experienced in
the last few days. When the police cracked down on us, the publicity
it produced cemented two of the main purposes of our protest: First,
it made Keystone XL “ the new, 1,700-mile-long pipeline we’re
trying to block that will vastly increase the flow of “dirty” tar
sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico “ into a
national issue. A few months ago, it was mainly people along the
route of the prospective pipeline who were organising against it.
(And with good reason: Continue reading →
In October, Bill spoke to Marlene Spoerri of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs about his views on nuclear power:
I don’t foresee, especially post-Fukushima, a kind of political
system in most of the world that would let it happen. Even before
Fukushima, it wasn’t happening. The reason basically had to do with
cost. Environmentalists helped shut down nuclear power, but really
it was Wall Street that pulled the plug on it. It’s too expensive.
It’s like burning $20 bills to generate electricity. It requires, if
you’re going to do it, massive government subsidy. If you’re going
to apply that subsidy, you’re better off doing it with other things
that will generate more kilowatt hours per buck.
Now, that said, we should keep trying to figure out if there are
some ways to do it that are more acceptable than the ones we’ve got
now. You read about developments on the fringes, Thorium reactors
and so on and so forth. But my guess is that in the timeframe we’ve
got this is not going to be the place we go.
Last Friday night, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council
announced that the student body had voted 72% in favor of Harvard
University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.
Members of the Harvard chapter of Students for a Just and Stable
Future have been campaigning since September to divest Harvard’s
endowment from the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel corporations
that own the majority of the world’s oil, coal, and gas reserves.
Harvard actually already has divested its shares of one fossil fuel company
due to public pressure.
Continue reading →