Teenagers File Law Suit Against Government Over Climate Change
It seems that teenagers in today’s world are too wrapped up in their facebooks and I pads to care about pressing environmental issues. According to a lengthy academic analysis published last month, high school students and college freshman’s care much less about the environment when compared to that of their elders during their youth.
Young teenagers, often referred to as Millenials, are growing up in an era where climate change and pollution is at its peak and the perception was that these issues were hitting home for them. This new statistical data comes as a shock to many since kids of this generation will ultimately be the ones suffering the brunt of these problems later in life. But a few students set themselves apart from the statistics and have filed law suits and petitions against federal and state governments for not putting our atmosphere high on the propriety list.
Nelson Kanuk, a 17-year old junior high student from Kipnuck Alaska is not your average teenager. He is a certified apprentice firefighter and is currently active in his student government. He and his family live a homestead type of lifestyle, foraging berries in the summer and living off of seal meat year-round. He already sees the effects climate change is having on his home front property and doesn’t want to accept the grim future of his hometown and the rest of the world.
Average temperatures in Alaska have been considerably warming at twice the rate of the United States. Over a span of a few years, 13 out of 53 feet of water has been eroded in front of his home due to flooding from permafrost melt.
However, Nelson is not the only teenager behind this suit. Five other students from around the U.S. are among the plaintiffs involved along with NASA’s own climate scientist James Hansen as their supporter. According to the litigation that was filed on May 4th “there is a profound interest in ensuring our climate remains stable enough to ensure their right to a livable future.” The defendants include some powerful names like the head of the EPA Lisa Jackson and Robert Gates of the Defense Department.
The lawsuits and petitions against the state and federal governments are based on the Public Trust Doctrine that was first created during Roman times and was later strengthened to become common law in the United States. According to Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group behind the suit, the doctrine states,
“it is the government’s duty to protect resources that are essential for our collective survival and prosperity. These resources-rivers, groundwater, the seashore and in this case, the atmosphere- cannot be privatized or substantially impaired because they belong to everyone equally, even to those not yet born.”
Each young plaintiff sees how their state will specifically be affected if GHG emissions are not mitigated. A 16-year-old named Alec Loorz (in video above) envisions sea levels rising covering a wastewater treatment facility, power generating station, freeway, beaches, and hundreds of homes in Ventura California. Another kid from Arizona worried about the increasing hot and dry weather patterns causing major droughts. A young farmer from Montana sees the perils of fellow wheat farmers from the dependence on fossil fuels that is ultimately inducing the communities’ financial and environmental complexion.
Nope, these kids are no slumps when it comes to taking action even though opponents are calling the suit publicly stunt. If one of these cases is victorious then it will drastically reduce climate hostile gases giving all young Americans a chance at a bright and secure future. The ones too busy texting and playing video games will most likely thank them later.
If you’d like to follow the legal actions on these cases you can visit the Children’s Trust website for up to date information.
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