I previously noted that a generation from now, the other nations of the world could make a good case that we owed them enormous payments for the damages and deaths caused by climate change. If that seems unrealistic to you, consider the following hypothetical statements from a prosecutor. . .
Ladies and gentlemen of this special international court, the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, announced in 2017, made the US the only nation in the entire world to refuse to take action to prevent further climate change - even though worldwide temperatures had been above average every month for the previous third of a century. I enter into evidence the following facts to show that the consequences of its refusal were clear at the time.
Exhibit 1A, July 2019: it was estimated by Moody's (a top US risk-assessment company that would have had good access to then-President Trump) that the economic damage from climate change would total 54 to 69 million million U.S. dollars by the end of the century.
Exhibit 1B, September 2012: An international report estimated that by 2030, the direct and indirect effects of climate change would be responsible for 700,000 deaths a year. The subhead of a news article noted, "Our changing climate is killing 1,000 children a day".
Exhibit 1C, July 2019: an Antarctic glacier the size of Florida was reported to be becoming unstable, and even if all burning of oil, coal, and natural gas stopped immediately, it was expected to collapse into the ocean and raise sea level by over two feet.
Exhibit 1D, June 2019: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency publicly accepted the dangers of climate change and naming it an important issue, but called for continued US inaction, stating that major efforts to prevent it were unreasonable because most of the millions of deaths and worldwide economic devastation would not occur for 50 to 75 years - in other words, in our lifetimes.
To support the second charge, we enter the following exhibits showing that the US engaged in a deliberate campaign over decades to suppress evidence of the very dangers that we are now experiencing, thus impeding global efforts to prevent those millions of deaths, the destruction of entire countries, and staggering economic damages.
Exhibit 2A, September 2002: the entire climate change section was deleted from the EPA's annual report on air pollution, on orders of the EPA leadership and with approval of the Bush White House.
Exhibit 2B, June 2003: another EPA report was censored, removing mention of the scientific studies that found fossil fuels to be causing global warming and studies that predicted the resulting adverse effects.
Exhibit 2C, September 2005: White House officials repeatedly blocked scientific experts from attending planned media interviews on political grounds, and replaced them with handpicked climate change skeptics.
Exhibit 2D, October 2007: the Office of Management and Budget censored testimony to Congress by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forbidding numerous mentions of climate change itself and nearly all mentions of its hazardous effects of climate change on health, crop yields, etcetera.
Exhibit 2E, June 2019: the Trump White House blocked a State Department intelligence official from publicly testifying that "Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant - possibly catastrophic - harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change".
Regarding this charge and the subsequent seven, the prosecution is prepared to submit additional exhibits if this court wishes. . . but I believe the pattern is unmistakable.
To support the third charge, that the US government made deliberate and systematic efforts to distort the evidence on climate change and cast doubt on the scientific consensus, we enter the following evidence.
Exhibit 3A, June 2005: White House documents dealing with climate change were edited at the direction of the chief of staff for the Council on Environmental Quality, to cast doubt on evidence of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
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