Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Washington State Judge Michael E Rickert has caused green heads to explode, by ruling that climate change is a matter of debate.
Judge in environmental activist’s trial says climate change is matter of debate
Controversial statements angered environmentalists who insist courts have an obligation to recognize the science about manmade climate change
A Washington state judge has sparked outrage for remarks questioning the existence of climate change and the role of humans in global warming.
During the high-profile trial of Ken Ward, a climate activist facing 30 years in prison for shutting down an oil pipeline, Judge Michael E Rickert said: “I don’t know what everybody’s beliefs are on [climate change], but I know that there’s tremendous controversy over the fact whether it even exists. And even if people believe that it does or it doesn’t, the extent of what we’re doing to ourselves and our climate and our planet, there’s great controversy over that.”
The Skagit County judge made the comments on 24 January while addressing Ward’s request to present a “necessity defense” in court, meaning he would argue that the grave threat of climate change justified civil disobedience.
Ken Ward allegedly admits he committed the acts for which he is being charged – according to a statement published on the climate disobedience website;
Statement of Ken Ward at his Arraignment
POSTED BY MARLA MARCUM 496.80SC ON OCTOBER 20, 2016
Statement of Ken Ward at his Arraignment on Charges of Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Sabotage and Assemblages of Saboteurs
October 20, 2016 in Mt. Vernon, WA
I have been charged by the Prosecuting Attorney for Skagit County, Washington with four crimes – burglary, criminal trespass, sabotage and assemblages of saboteurs – for my action last Tuesday, closing a safety valve on the TransMountain pipeline and blocking the flow of Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to the Anacortes refineries.
There is no question about what I did – I livestreamed it, and you can see the video at shutitdown.today and on my FaceBook page, facebook.com/kenward.brightlines. The only question is whether what I did was an appropriate and practical response to what President Obama recently described as “terrifying” climate change conditions.
I’m not a legal expert, but my understanding is a “necessity” defence is normally accepted only when an otherwise illegal action is the only way to prevent imminent severe injury or loss of life.
Even if climate change is as serious a threat as Ken Ward believes, his actions likely endangered lives, rather than preventing imminent loss of life. A close family relative used to work in an oil refinery, my understanding is abruptly closing the emergency shutdown valve on an oil pipeline can cause the pipe to rupture, which can lead to life threatening fires and other serious consequences.
The following is an activist video of Ken Ward’s actions;