The trial is over in the case of Held v. The State of Montana. The lawyers have performed their roles on the judicial stage. Now we wait, a few weeks probably, several months possibly, for the lone critic to review the material and render a ruling.

The question? Is Montana, one of three states in the Union to have added so-called “green” amendments to their constitutions— the others being New York and Pennsylvania—keeping its constitutional promise to provide and protect the environment its young people hope to grow old in? Sixteen of those young people completed their mission in court this week to voice a resounding No!

The young folks, ages 5 to 22, pointed out during their testimony the effects of climate warming on their lives the effects of living in smoke and water-borne pollutants from climate-induced forest fires. In their suit titled Held v. The State of Montana, they said the state at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, was refusing to take steps against climate warming by continuing to issue permits for fossil fuel production to be burned in-state and worldwide.

In its defense, the state’s attorney opened by saying Montana’s population and its contribution to global warming was minuscule compared to the Green House Gases contributed by the rest of the world, making the trial an “insignificant” waste of time and expense. In addition, Montana’s primary witness, speaking for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, agreed the department continues to grant permits for fossil fuel production, but repeatedly declared the legislature had not given it authority to do otherwise.

The trial concluded seven days of testimony before state District Judge Kathy Seeley. Seeley did not say when she would issue her decision, but a ruling for the young people will have wide legal effects. In July 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a state Commonwealth Court decision in which Commonwealth Court President Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer declared financial profits trumped healthy lungs.

Profit trumping science is not a new concept. We wait a bit impatiently to see where the wheel stops this time—whether lawmakers will be made to put their regulations where their promise resides.

Meanwhile, we consider the results of an underwater gamble we witnessed this week when five wealthy thrill seekers lost their bet with King Neptune this week.

On the one hand, rich folks—and sometimes not-so-rich folks—joy-riding on the cutting edge of exploration has been a long-established human tradition since the first person tried to, say, ride a horse for the first time. Lots of his compatriots likely stood on the other side of the valley and told each other it was an unsafe experiment that likely would result in the young thrill-seeker’s demise.

We have lost a few of those thrill seekers, er, researchers on our on our so far millennia-long road to Mars and beyond.

This week, five more of our fellow space-folk lost their bet, this time with King Neptune. We who had not the money or the nerve to ride that 20,000-pound submersible titanium and filament-wound carbon fiber caballo de mar will one day watch our kids take the ride with impunity on visits to observe undersea ’scapes and industries.

Atmospheric pressure at Titan-ic depth is about 400 times the normal 14.7 pounds per square inch we feel walking around on the surface of the planet.

On the other hand, the submersible-crushing problem likely will be easier to explain and fix than the air-and-water cleanup that lies before us here on the surface, and with far fewer bettors profiting from causing failure.

Science(TEM) is, indeed, a fascinating occupation.

©2023 John Messeder. John is an award-winning environmental storyteller, nemophilist and social anthropologist living in Gettysburg, PA. He may be contacted at john@johnmesseder.com