Recently a Montana judge ruled that the state was violating its citizens’ constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing continued fossil fuel development without considering its effect on climate.

Montana is one of a few states that have a so-called “green amendment” in its state Constitution. This type of amendment guarantees its citizens the inalienable right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment.

The judge found that the youth of the state have a “fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, which includes climate.” This ruling means the state legislature needs to consider the effects of climate change when making decisions regarding fossil fuel projects.

According to NOAA’s 2021 Annual Climate Report, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased on an average rate of 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1880; however, the average increase since 1981 has been more than twice as high – 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit – per decade. So far 2023 is the third-warmest year on record, but may surpass that as August and September temperatures rise. July 2023 was the hottest month on record.

According to NOAA and NASA, the global temperature was 62.42 degrees; that’s 2.02 degrees above the 20th Century average. It was also the first time a July average temperature was 1.8 degrees above the long-term average – it was 0.43 degrees warmer than any other July in NASA’s global temperature records. Ocean temperatures were at a record high for the fourth consecutive month, global sea ice coverage was the lowest on record for July, sea ice coverage in Antarctica was the lowest on record for each of the past three months and it was the 47th consecutive July and 533rd consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th Century average, according to reporting in USA Today.

There is a natural climate change, which has been studied and is useful for climatologists to determine how the increase in greenhouse gas emissions is causing deviations from these expected patterns. They can offer insight into amplifying effects that may intensify warming as greenhouse gas concentrations rise. They may also provide insight on regional impacts of climate change, which will be very important for developing adaptation strategies for human and ecological communities. However, it is important to recognize that current rates of global climate change are extremely rapid compared to past changes, and may produce conditions that have not been anticipated, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

So with all this evidence – all the wacky weather and all the science fiction novels, movies and television shows that have warned us for generations – it seems ridiculous that there still had to be a lawsuit to fight for a thoughtful process that takes the Earth’s climate into consideration when determining whether to advance greenhouse gas fuel emissions.

The most amazing thing about this legal case was that it was brought by 16 young people (from 5 years old to 22); 11 of them took the stand in the Held v. Montana case. They testified about the effects of climate change on the state’s iconic glaciers and trout streams, according to an article in ClimateWire.

According to reports, the state officials said this lawsuit was a publicity stunt and pointed out that climate change was not Montana’s fault.

In an article in Scientific American the spokesperson from Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen stated “Montanans can’t be blamed for changing the climate” and added that experts, even from the plaintiff’s side, said Montana has “no impact” on the global climate.

If that statement is taken literally that would be amazing. Everyone in the world has a carbon footprint and yet no one in the state of Montana impacts climate change? Well, if that’s true let’s find out how they are doing that and copy what they are doing. Having actual zero effect on climate change is quite impressive.

The fact that young people are asking for their state to just consider climate change when making decisions on future greenhouse gas projects does not seem too unreasonable. In fact, instead of disrespecting these young activists, officials in the state of Montana should be proud that their children understand the importance of their natural surroundings. When so many young people have their heads bent to their electronic devices isn’t it nice that there are a few kids who are looking up – not only appreciating nature and the beauty of their state but are willing to fight for it?

We will continue to see warm temperatures but not the smothering heat of the past. Today will have highs in the low 90s but then we are looking at mid-to-low 80s for Friday through Tuesday.

At present Tropical Storm Hilary is south of California but will be affecting our weather Sunday through Wednesday by bringing a slight chance of showers.

There is “quite a bit of uncertainty” as to how much moisture those showers/rain might bring but there is a potential for thunderstorms and, depending on how Hilary strengthens or weakens, our showers may turn into more widespread rain, according to NOAA.