#ClimateChange: What 10 presidents have known — CBS News

The youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States attended the Ninth Circuit hearing in December. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

Here’s an article about Juliana v. United States from CBS News (Brit McCandless Farmer). Click through and read the whole article and check out the documents highlighted. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s a White House memorandum that addresses “the carbon dioxide problem” in straightforward terms. The process, it reads, is simple. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has the effect of a pane of glass in a greenhouse. With all the fossil fuels man is now burning, more carbon dioxide is entering the atmosphere and raising temperatures, which in turn will raise sea levels.

“Goodbye New York,” it reads. “Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

The memo isn’t remarkable for its dire warning. It’s noteworthy because it is dated almost 50 years ago: September 17, 1969.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an adviser to President Richard Nixon at the time, authored it to raise awareness of the “apocalyptic change.”

“I would think this is a subject that the Administration ought to get involved with,” he wrote.

The memo is one of hundreds of records submitted in Juliana v. United States, a court case against the federal government. As correspondent Steve Kroft reports this week on 60 Minutes, a lawyer filed the case in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who want the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing to support fossil fuels.

Oregon lawyer Julia Olson is leading the charge, along with 21 “climate kids” she recruited from environmental groups around the country. The kids range in age from 11 to 22 and include lead plaintiff Kelsey Juliana, a University of Oregon student.

The suit alleges that the use of fossil fuels is causing climate change, and the government’s continued support of the fossil fuel industry endangers the plaintiffs’ future and violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

Olson began constructing the case eight years ago and has now assembled a timeline of what past presidential administrations knew about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change. The records stretch back more than 50 years, beginning with President Lyndon Johnson, and Olson feels they prove that each president since has known about the potentially catastrophic effects of fossil fuels.

“Our government, at the highest levels, knew and was briefed on it regularly by the national security community, by the scientific community,” Olson told Kroft on the broadcast. “They have known for a very long time that it was a big threat.”

One of the earliest documents is a federal science report authored in November 1965 by a panel of scientists and engineers from government, universities, and industries. The document, titled “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” includes a section co-authored by Charles David Keeling, the climate scientist whose readings of carbon dioxide first alerted the world to the possibility of the “greenhouse effect.”

Keeling’s section warns about high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and blames humans for burning coal, oil, and gas.

“Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment,” it reads.

Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since scientific record keeping began in 1880. The rate of global sea level rise has increased in recent decades. The current rate is a little more than an inch per decade.

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