More than 1,200 people died in Hurricane Katrina when levees gave way under the weight of crashing waves. According to John McPhee, from the very moment humans waged war on Mother Nature and tried to direct the flow of the Mississippi River, they were destined to fail. In Trouble the Water, the black residents of the Ninth Ward blame the government for ineffective action. Well, residents of southern Mississippi claim that gas-emitting multinationals like Shell, ExxonMobile, BP and Chevron—what McPhee calls “the American Ruhr”—are also responsible for boosting the terrible storm. The residents filed a class-action suit against these companies just weeks after the 2005 storm.
WHY THE MULITNATIONALS ARE AT FAULT
The multinational companies’ operation of energy, fossil fuels, and chemical industries in the United States cause the emission of greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming. This increase in global surface air and water temperatures in turn caused a rise in sea levels and added to the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed the homes and communities of countless individuals.
Furthermore, according to the plaintiffs, the greenhouse gas emissions of companies like Honeywell and American Electric Power caused saltwater, debris, sediment, hazardous substances, and other materials to enter, remain on, and damage the residents’ property.
WHERE THE FIGHT IS NOW
The district court initially rejected the case, ruling that it was "a debate which simply has no place in the court." Mississippi residents must now wait for the appeals court to fix a new hearing, in principle within the next three months. A decision would then be due by the end of 2010, and both sides could also then take the case to the Supreme Court.
Hopefully, the decision will result in justice. The Mississippi residents rightfully believe that the companies have a duty to "avoid unreasonably endangering the environment, public health, public and private property."