Today ended much like day two of the last trial, with total surprise and hope. The jury did not come to a verdict today and will continue deliberation in the morning. The courtroom was fabulously packed today. Packed. And while we welcome those that feel called to join us tomorrow in waiting, there is no need to fill the courtroom tomorrow, Wednesday June 6th.
The day began with a single witness from the prosecution, the fellow living in the residence adjacent to the Valve-turning site and then the prosecution rested. Ken Ward then took the stand and testified for an hour and a half about his state of mind, effectively a back-door necessity defense where Ken and his attorneys presented the key climate science that impacted his accelerating urgency to directly act as well as his professional history and contributions that culminated in the realization that direct action is the most effective way to bring climate catastrophe to the public consciousness.
“I was trying to take the most effective measure that I could think of to address this problem and avoid cataclysmic climate change impacts,” said Ken
“Did you think that there was anything left to do that would have been legal?” defense counsel, Lauren Regan asks.
“I think that there are legal steps to take, and I continue to take them.” Ken Ward said strongly, “but I think that alone, they are insufficient.”
Throughout Ken’s testimony, his affable voice effortlessly mixed the severity of the climate science with the emotional experience of becoming a parent. We can only hope that the parents on this jury, are also touched with the fear of encroaching catastrophe and summon a moral resolve to act for a livable planet.
“I didn’t want to be in situation where my son comes to me in a few decades and says, ‘What did you do?’” Ken said. “In our worst case of sea level rise, around 5-8 feet, possible within the lifetime of my son - that’s a very different thing than what we thought before. We imagined a few inches or a foot, where you could imagine society adapting to that... Sea level rise is the single thing that is described as civilization busting, if it rises fast enough it will flood many urban areas and it will be difficult for us to respond..”
Lauren Regan gave an impassioned closing argument punctuated with a powerpoint presentation of effecting images, the exponential graph of CO2 over time, an aerial shot of seaside homes massively flooded, and a shot of an emaciated polar bear. She also referenced one of the defense exhibits that the jury took to deliberations -- a large poster board showing the the new topography of Skagit Valley under five feet of water, suggesting that jurors might want to locate their homes on the map.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment was when Ms. Regan, recalling the Boston Tea Party, likened our corporate oligarchy to the Crown of England, and the Washington judiciary to the tyrannical apparatuses of the Crown that politically disempowered the colonies, until… regular people in a burgeoning America said, enough. In possibly the only reasonable romanticization of the events around the Boston Tea Party and other colonialist exploits, Ms. Regan asked the jurors to recognize that a mythological patriot sits on trial and deserves to be recognized as such with a verdict of “Not Guilty.”