Young People Across America Are Now Suing the Government - And This Image Shows Why
By Tom McKay / policymic.com

Young people across the United States are suing the federal government en masse for destroying their futures. They're claiming the feds' bungling of a crucial issue is a violation of their constitutional rights.

The issue? Look at these stunning images of California, where 86% of the state's mountain snow pack has dissipated in a single year.

Source: Washington Post

In 2011, thousands of young people supported by 30+ environmental and constitutional professors filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Commerce, Energy and the Interior. Individual actions have been filed in all 50 states. All allege that government inaction on climate change violates their rights under the Public Trust Doctrine, which obligates the government to protect resources for the public's reasonable use.

The federal suit has already made it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit and is part of a nationwide legal campaigned designed to draw attention to America's utter failure to mobilize against human-induced climate change. Though oral arguments were set for May 2, the court ordered the case to be decided based on written briefing. Decisions on the lawsuit are pending.

13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a member of plaintiff Kids vs. Global Warming, told Al Jazeera America that "climate change is the biggest issue of our time."

"It's not every day you see young people getting involved politically, but the climate crisis is changing all that. Every generation from here on out is going to be affected by climate change," he added.

NASA projections of climate change under various projected levels of atmospheric carbon. Source: NASA

"The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions ... youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation," the complaint reads. "The 'best' science tells us that because of our nation’s inaction we now have a very narrow window of time to act ... Any more delay risks irreversible and unacceptable consequences for Plaintiffs and generations to come."

"Unless action is undertaken without further delay, the continuing increase of atmospheric CO2 will drive Earth's climate system toward and past points of no return, with disastrous consequences for young people and future generations."

The suit says that if the federal government acts now to establish a plan to reduce atmospheric carbon to less than 350 ppm, which would limit surface warming to 1 degree celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, avoiding the worst of the impact would be possible.

"The scale of potential harm is almost inconceivable," says the University of Oregon's Mary Wood, who helped engineer the lawsuit. She added that "There is a constitutionally-based, inalienable right to have essential resources protected for survival."

Manufacturers have already hit back, saying that the suit "would have profound consequences for the Nation's economic development and productivity, social policies, security interests, and international standing." They also insist that "public trust doctrine remains a matter of state law" and thus the lawsuit is invalid.

Though various courts have thrown out the lawsuits and plaintiffs have been forced to file a motion to reconsider with the D.C. District Court, that's arguably not the point. The young people represented in the suit are demanding action and garnering attention, hoping to educate the public about climate change. And that's crucial, seeing as just over one-third of Americans worry a "great deal" about this issue that could threaten to deeply impact their lives.

Tom McKay is a Live News Writer for PolicyMic, where he produces killer trending content on politics, media, and technology.

4.0 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 16,219 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 14,127 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 10,280 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 9,374 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 6,989 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 5,025 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 3,803 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,319 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 2,099 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 2,058 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 1,948 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 1,869 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,540 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 1,509 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,357 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 1,319 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,290 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 1,214 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 1,141 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
The 24-Hour Emergency Hotline for Syrian Refugees
7 min · 1,137 views today · Mohammed Abu Amar runs a makeshift 24-hour helpline from his flat in Hamburg, guiding scared refugees fleeing the violence in Syria across the water to Europe.  Despite losing...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Young People Across America Are Now Suing the Government - And This Image Shows Why