Climate Heroes: Our Constitutional Right to A Climate Safe Atmosphere

**Update: “The U.S. Court of Appeals has decided that the one-hour oral proceedings, scheduled for 9:30 AM May 2, will not be required for a decision in the legal case filed by young people. This should not prejudice the outcome of the case, but the opportunity for young people to witness and participate in democracy in action, will be missed.” Dr. James Hansen, April 29, 2014

congressWhere will you be on May 2nd, 2014? I will be in Washington DC at the US Court of Appeals with my 14 year old daughter, cheering on some very special children, some Climate Mamas, and some Climate Papas who are all demanding that the Court recognize these children’s rights and the rights of all our children to a healthy atmosphere and a safe climate system.

Can you join us?

Five individual teenagers, and two non-profits Kids vs. Global Warming and WildEarth Guardians, which represent thousands more young people, filed the lawsuit to require the federal government to immediately plan for national climate recovery, according to the prescription of Dr. James Hansen and other leading international climate scientists.

These scientists are telling us that we must restore our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 by the end of the century if we want to avoid the disastrous planetary scenarios of 2°C of warming. Our current trajectory, created by the release into the atmosphere of human caused CO2 and other greenhouse gases, is moving us towards a difficult and possibly “impossible” future. This lawsuit relies upon the long-established legal principle of the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires our government to protect and maintain survival resources for future generations. At the oral argument, the youth will ask the Court of Appeals to recognize their constitutional right to a healthy atmosphere and safe climate system.

We know not everyone can be in Washington with us, but you can also “be there with us in spirit” and “be a force for change” by helping us share this special story about some amazing kids and some equally incredible parents and grandparents, with your friends, your family and all your circles.

Take a few moments this week with the kids in your life, and listen and watch as some of the amazing Climate Mamas and Papas both behind the scenes and also at the forefront of this court case share with us why, as parents, they feel it is their obligation and duty to do everything they can to help these children have their “day in court.”

In their own words, in this video A Climate of Trust, our climate heroes and their families share with us why we have to begin in earnest – today – to fight back against our rapidly changing climate, and all the impacts and risks that this brings. We need “all hands on deck” and the full commitment and support of all of our leaders, change makers and decision makers, including our elected leaders.

Given the planetary emergency that we are facing it would seem that differences could be put aside, and that all three branches of government would be swiftly moving to join forces and work together on climate change solutions. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true, none of our three branches of government are “all in” on the need to move quickly and decisively on climate change.

Our legislative branch, on so many issues and particularly it seems on climate solutions, is frustratingly and functionally stuck, seemingly unable to do anything. Our executive branch is making noise and making progress on some climate related fronts. But, it also faces tough opposition to its plans. In addition, by promoting an “all of the above energy policy” it is putting up roadblocks of it’s own to climate solutions. What about our judicial branch? Our kids are putting this branch to the test and hoping that it prove up for the challenge.

Our friends at Our Children’s Trust, are coordinating events and information around this historic court case, and you can find much more details on their website and a history of the case here.

Elliots camera 024We have protected our national parks as shared and treasured resources to be sustained for future generations. Our fragile atmosphere, which scientists are showing us is clearly at risk, deserves protection as well. Our atmosphere is a resource shared by all living creatures, and it’s future is both literally and figuratively, unclear. Whose obligation should it be, and who has the authority to enforce regulations and impose penalties to stop and reverse course on the 90 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution that is being dumped into our atmosphere every day?

Our children are asking our government to step in and be counted. Adding to the thousands of peer reviewed studies that already exist, telling us our climate is changing at a dangerous rate and pace, the April 2014 Working Group reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that the risks we currently face are extremely dire, and that we have NO time to waste.

As our Climate Mamas and Papas share with us in the video, A Climate of Trust, “climate change is a clear threat to our children’s future” and our “window of time [to address it] is shrinking.” They also let us know that, “it’s not going to be convenient [to address] but it is necessary.” We must begin capping and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, starting now.

Climate Mama: Speaking out against Keystone Pipeline

Climate Mama: Speaking out against Keystone Pipeline

I am taking my daughter with me to Washington so she can once again bare witness to, be inspired by, and hopefully become empowered through the brave acts of her peers and by caring grown-ups as well.

Through our actions we must show our children that we did all we could when we had the chance, to help change the crash course we are currently on with our natural world. When they ask us, “What did you do to try to stop the climate crisis,” we can look them clearly in the eyes, and tell them, “We tried, in every way we could, to do all we could..” Hopefully, when we have this future conversation with them, “all that we could” will prove to be have been timely and enough…

See you in DC on Friday, May 2nd. Let us know if you will be there. If you can’t make it, you can follow along through our tweets, the photos we will post on Facebook, and also through our blog posts.


Climate Mama

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