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Climate change isn’t a hoax — the Trump administration’s declaration of war on the environment, notwithstanding. Sacrificing our ecosystems on the altar of the economy is a fool’s errand grounded in denial and myopia. Homo sapiens are threatening the continued existence of their only nest. That is not fake news. It is scientific fact.

Not Montana’s problem?

Wrong. Montanans have a dog in this fight. Our State’s blue-ribbon fisheries, clean air, water, hunting, mountains, parks and plains support Montana’s second largest industry, recreation, travel and tourism. We live here, and others come here, because of our environment.

Indeed, “We the People” begin our Constitution thanking God for the “quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains and the vastness of our rolling plains.” These natural wonders are so important that every Montanan is guaranteed an inalienable right to clean and healthful environment in our Constitution, Article II, Section 3. No one can deprive us of this right.

So, we need not — and must not — support the Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. Montana and our cities and towns need to join the growing nationwide United States Climate Alliance to keep the Paris agreement intact. California, Washington and New York are leading the alliance; at least 180 cities, large and small, representing more than 51 million Americans in both red and blue States, have vowed to ignore the President’s action. We should too.

Unlike, Montana’s Constitution, the federal Constitution does not contain a textual right to a clean and healthful environment. Yet, the highest courts of 20-some other nations that, likewise, do not have an explicit environmental right, have ruled that the right to life implicitly includes the guarantee of a clean and healthful environment — because a clean and healthful environment is essential for our species’ survival.

To expect a similar ruling from our state and federal courts is probably a stretch. But, there is nothing preventing We the People from acknowledging the obvious. We must demand that our State and our cities and towns join the alliance to honor the Paris climate accord. We Montanans have a constitutional right to expect no less from our Governor and mayors.

We live in a planetary ecosystem. No politician has the right to proclaim that America is the peeing section in the global swimming pool. Our country is not, and, certainly, Montana, is not that place. We must protect and improve our environment. In the end, it’s the only one we have.

And, that, Mr. President, is no hoax.

Jim Nelson, Helena, is a retired Montana Supreme Court justice.

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