DICK JACOBS: A PLANETEER . . . Because Harmony Matters!

Probes into Stories With Endings Yet to be Written

The Brutus Papers

Some Call Me Nature – Some Call Me Money

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some research regarding Reynolds vs. Florida, the lawsuit brought by eight youngsters against the State of Florida asserting their inherent and constitutional right to a healthy environment, clean air and water. I was particularly disturbed by the State’s claim that the children had no such inherent right under certain key provisions of the Constitution that use the word “shall” – like Article II, Section 7(a) of the Florida Constitution that begins with “It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate protection shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water ….” The State’s denial of the children’s rights in their briefs includes: “… the Legislature may decide that other matters. such as employment opportunities, resource development … should be weighed against the evidence [of human-caused climate change].”

Legal arguments at this stage of the litigation are probably best reserved to the motions and briefs filed with the court, and not this blog.

But during my research I made some notes about Trump’s December 31, 2019 rules to ban certain flavored vaping products. I wrote these notes:

Initially, President Trump announced the administration would crackdown on vaping because of the public health crisis it created. Under “strenuous lobbying from his political allies and the vaping industry,” despite the personal health effects, the proposed rules ban only certain flavored vaping products. Initially, the President’s position: “‘Children have died, people have died,’ Trump said at the time, citing Melania’s concerns as the parent of a teenager. ‘And we’re going to have some very strong rules and regulations.’”

The President’s reasoning for his changed position: “’We think we’re going to get it [vaping] back onto the market very, very quickly, but we have to protect the children. We have to protect the families. At the same time, we have a very big industry. It’s become a very big industry. We’re going to take care of the industry,’ Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago.”

On January 9, 2020, The Week Magazine published its article,“Trump now says climate change is ‘serious’ and not ‘a hoax.’ The article begins: “President Trump announced plans Thursday to change National Environmental Policy Act rules in order to make it easier to build gas pipelines and construct mines and highways,” When asked whether or not he’s still a climate change denier, he responded:

No, no. Not at all. Nothing’s a hoax. ,,, It’s a very serious subject. The environment is very important to me. I’m a big believer in that word, the environment. … I want clean air. I want clean water. I also want jobs, though.”

Back to my notes following the vaping discussion:

Thus, the administration’s position: It’s okay if some children become addicted or die from vaping, because that result has to be balanced with the rights of businesses to prosper selling vaping products, particularly when the business owners and their employees would vote for the administration in the 2020 election.

Trump’s rationale for drilling and pipelines is the same as it is for vaping: we need to balance the rights of children and the rest of us against the rights of business to produce and sell products and make profits, even though doing so is unhealthy, dangerous, and deadly.

I asked myself a question after reading Trump’s comments on vaping.

• How many deaths or cancer cases are permissible before a political question [the right of the legislative and executive branches to allow cancer-causing products because they create jobs] is no longer a political question?

• I could ask the same questions about Trump’s failure to protect our environment from global warming, rising seas, and extinctions of natural resources. How many deaths do we have to suffer before the choices that will save us won’t be treated as debatable political questions but as inherent rights of us all, including humans?

Laws defining our fundamental rights to fresh air and water stretch back to the Justinian Code. These endowments from nature. the Code holds, are held as a public trust by our governments for all of us. The Justinian Code became part of the Magna Carta, and passed down to us under English Common Law. The Public Trust is not meant to be destroyed by treating these fundamental rights as political questions.

The right to live in a healthy environment, with the clean air and water that we and all of life need to be healthy and fit, is a “Don’t Tread On Me” right, not a right to be subordinated to the bidding of lobbyists and their clients.

Our Democracy of Dollars, which puts the paid-for will of lobbyists and their clients above all else, tells us nature is money, a gifted resource for financial exploitation regardless of consequences.

Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine wrote in their Uncivilization:The Dark Mountain Manefesto:

“The myth of progress is founded on the myth of nature. The first tells us we are destined for greatness; the second tells us that greatness is cost-free. Both tell us that we are apart from the world; that we began grunting in the primeval swamps, as a humble part of something called ‘nature,’ which we have triumphantly subdued. … We are the first generation to grow up surrounded by evidence that our attempt to separate ourselves from ‘nature’ has been a grim failure, proof not of our genius but our hubris.”

As you ponder, take another look at Julia Roberts comments. If you are still doubtful, tune in Harrison Ford:

If that’s not enough, check out the rest of the stories.


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