Letter: Council did not take the climate science seriously – Alexandria Echo Press

Letter: Council did not take the climate science seriously – Alexandria Echo Press

To the editor:

All levels of government have a responsibility to protect our environment. Elected officials become the public’s trustees with a fiduciary obligation to protect Nature’s Trust. Nature’s Trust is the environmental services and resources we all depend on.

When these trustees fail in their responsibility, they become liable for the destruction they enabled. Two recent court decisions illustrate this point. Sixteen young people in Montana successfully sued the state for passing pro-fossil fuel legislation that harmed their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment.

The International Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of 2,000 Swiss women who brought suit against the government that enabled climate change which undermined their health and quality of life.

For numerous examples of the courts holding local, state, national and international governments accountable for environmental damage, read Nature’s Trust by Mary Christina Wood, a law professor.

Fossil fuel corporations will also eventually be liable for the harm they cause. Just as the tobacco, asbestos and herbicide industries were held liable for the harm they inflicted. As health and property claims mount due to global warming, people will seek accountability from those responsible.

A local citizens’ group, Citizens for a Sustainable Future, spent many months attempting to get the Alexandria City Counsel to take meaningful action towards community sustainability. They were dismissive of us. They did not take the climate science seriously.

Elected officials and business heads bear additional responsibility because their positions give them greater ability to create change. Pollution must be regulated because businesses rarely police themselves. The fact that you struggle to find an exception, proves the rule.

Failure to act responsibly toward our environment opens businesses and elected officials to future liability. Protecting the commons is everyones responsibility.

The climate is changing, why aren’t we?

Bryan Van Gorp
Alexandria, MN

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