It’s the next in what I see as the dramatic but entirely important battles that need to take place around climate change before everyone can understand just how connected the Earth is- this is a debate over the interconnectedness principle, the web of life.
You could just as well sue a coal plant for the extinction of a fish or the disappearance of a coral reef- is it directly the coal plant’s fault? No, as in the coal plant emitting CO2 didn’t cause the coral reef to die, in the classic and legal sense of the word cause. But what it has done is contribute to, both physically and habitually, thus spiritually and pervasively, the Earth’s direction toward self-destruction- and I say self-destruction because humans are part of the great organism that is the Earth. We are choking ourselves, killing ourselves. That’s how it is.
And Micronesia is suing somebody for it. Might as well use the legal devices that are there to fight the plant that is somehow unchallenged by anyone else. In calling this lawsuit ridiculous, which is easy to do, anyone would be ignoring the metaphorical and symbolic significance of such an act. Similar to the Maldives’ underwater cabinet meeting or the Nepalese meeting at the foot of Everest, this kind of an action is intended to be media-friendly and invoke the bigness, the importance, and the grand scale that is both ridiculous and deeply true. For it is this truth that the Earth has to wrestle with before we are able to move forward with anything green in the truest sense.
In essence, we need to decide that the Micronesian shoreline is more important than the power that can be created at the Czech power plant- well, more important than cheap electricity being created through fossil fuels at any power plant anywhere in the world. Or that a tree or an animal is just as, if not more, important than cheap power from the underground sources.
But what about this lawsuit? It’s a long shot, and not something I expect to get taken seriously. Though it will open the book to a new perspective. As Tim Malloch, climate and energy lawyer for ClientEarth of London, says, “This is part of a new phase in environmental law," said Tim Malloch, a climate and energy lawyer at London-based ClientEarth.
Indeed it is. The Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment request from Micronesia argus that there has not been enough research on potential impacts or on possibilities as alternative energy sources. It’s a new world for environmental and energy law- how do we affect one another around the world?
Photo Credit: sethschoen (via Flickr under CCL)