Young People Across America Are Now Suing the Government - And This Image Shows Why
By Tom McKay / policymic.com
May 6, 2014

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
Trending Today
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 9,195 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 4,649 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 2,455 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,958 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 1,792 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
What Is a Gift Economy? - Alex Gendler
4 min · 1,211 views today · What if, this holiday season, instead of saying "thank you" to your aunt for her gift of a knitted sweater, the polite response expected from you was to show up at her house in...
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 1,178 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,062 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Union Co-Operatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them
Simon Taylor · 905 views today · Neoliberal policies contribute to alienation, disempowerment and non-unionised jobs, but a new model for unions could break the vicious circle, argues Simon Taylor.
Why I Think This World Should End
4 min · 781 views today · Sorry if this offends you. - Prince Ea
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 653 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
The Myth of Romantic Love May Be Ruining Your Health
Susanne Vosmer · 416 views today · Romantic love in Western societies is often portrayed in a stereotypical way: two yearning halves, who search for each other to find their complete, original state. Few find...
Prophecy Delivered! Martin Luther King Jr. and the Death of Democracy
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou · 407 views today · “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Democracy is dead. It...
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 341 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 321 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 312 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 294 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 272 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 244 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 212 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Young People Across America Are Now Suing the Government - And This Image Shows Why