According to a group of American youths, the US government is failing to uphold the preamble to the constitution —specifically, the government has failed “promote the general Welfare” of the people by “failing to protect the atmosphere.” And, despite being too young to vote, the group—a non-profit called Kids vs. Global Warming— is trying to sue the US government in a case which is to go before the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.
The non-profit group are defending their right to sue the government for its failure to protect the atmosphere, but it is up to Federal Judge Robert Wilkins whether to dismiss the lawsuit or not. Those wanting the case to be dismissed include the U.S. government, the fossil fuel industry, and other industry giants. What the youth group is requested is that the Federal government immediately conduct a detailed accounting of our nation’s carbon emissions and develop and implement a national climate recovery plan to protect our nation’s atmosphere.
“This lawsuit really could be the turning point we’ve all been waiting for,” says Alec Loorz, 17-year old plaintiff on the Federal atmospheric trust lawsuit and founder of Kids vs Global Warming. “We’re not asking the government for money, we’re not asking for power, we don’t want to take away the industry’s right to profit. We’re simply asking that the government recognize the atmosphere as part of the public trust to be protected for present and future generations and once and for all to govern as if our future matters.”
Of course, the kids face some serious opposition in the form of the National Association of Manufacturers (“NAM”) and five California industry groups who represent every component of the fossil fuel industry. What is not only surprising, but down right insulting is that these opposing groups have stated that they seek to defend their “right” to freely emit carbon into the atmosphere.
In support of their motions to dismiss, these industry groups argued that if youth plaintiffs prevail, they will have no option but to significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (awww, poor them). NAM has spent millions of dollars on lobbying efforts to thwart any attempts by Congress to reduce greenhouse gases.
Meanwhile, despite having nowhere near the resources of the opposition, the youth plaintiffs are standing up on behalf of their generation and those to come, to compel their government to protect the atmosphere as a natural resources necessary for survival. According to a press release from Our Children’s Trust, “these youth are no longer satisfied focusing simply on individual efforts such as recycling and changing light bulbs. They assert that the time is now to demand large-scale changes before it’s too late to change the trajectory of runaway climate change.”
Phil Gregory, one of the attorneys for Kids vs. Global Warming, commented: “There is no question, the issue should be one of science, not politics. Unfortunately, both Congress and our President are not taking the necessary, decisive steps to protect our atmosphere. Now is the time for our courts to take action. Courts have done so throughout history, most notably in the civil rights era of the 1950s and ‘60s, where young people raised their voices. Judges not only heard these voices, but took charge of the situation and ensured the changes became a reality.”
Some of the potential disasters of continued emissions, highlighted by leading scientists including Dr James Hansen, include an unstoppable melting of ice sheets, loss of forests, massive species extinction, threats to public health and national security, and a decrease in global food and water supplies. To restore the carbon concentration in the atmosphere at 350ppm by the end of the century, they say, requires a 6% annual global reduction of emissions and massive reforestation. The case asks the judicial branch to use its authority to require the Federal government to develop a comprehensive plan under these standards, to prevent further increases in United States carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and to begin to rapidly reduce emissions.
If ever there was a Federal Case to support, this is it!