Twenty-one kids ranging from age 9 to 20 are at the center of what some are calling, ‘The biggest case on the planet”.
Their goal is to get the Obama Administration to create a plan that reduces greenhouse gas emissions to what are considered safe levels. These children cannot vote, have zero political experience, and have no influential voice. However, they have all of that in their leader, Julia Olson.
Olson will be litigating to try and convince US District Judge Ann Aiken to recognize that children have the most to lose in the climate-changed future.
In 2006, Julia was eight months pregnant. She recalls it being unbelievably hot on that mid-August day. She decided to seek refuge from the heat in an Oregon movie theatre. The film, An Inconvenient Truth was playing at the time. The documentary talks about the effects of climate change. Olson was already a well-known environmental attorney, but the entire time she couldn’t stop thinking about the effects climate change will play on her unborn son’s life.
Olson told CNN, “I cried through most of the film. It was very powerful to be carrying new life within me… and to see what I was bringing my child into, and to have it so visually in my face.”
She continued with, “I want more parents to feel that weight of responsibility for the planet and the country that they will leave their children. I really want our presidents and our politicians and our leaders, people within the departments of the federal government–and judges–to fell that weight.”
On Tuesday, the twenty-one children who began this fight for a better environment will be sitting in the front row of the federal court with Olson making their voices heard.
Faculty Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Oregon, Mary Wood, told CNN, “It’s as if the children really speak through her.”
Although some believe the “climate kids” case will be a failure, Olson will still be arguing that the federal government is violating the constitutional rights of life, liberty, and property by leasing new federal lands for fossil fuel consumption, and failing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the children are not the ones causing these things, yet they will suffer the most consequences.
The fossil fuel organizations however argue that no constitutional rights have ever been found “free of climate change” and that the federal government does not produce all of the extreme climate change in the world.
“There is no violation of a statute,” said Quin Sorenson, an attorney who represents large organizations in the fossil fuel industry. “There is no regulatory relief that has been denied. It is simply that government has failed to do what these plaintiffs think they should do.”
Olson has really pushed the fact that this movement was all started by the kid volunteers. She made sure they were all completely on board before they began. Now, Olson says they know more about the climate than most adults.
Many scientists warn that horrendous storms are only going to get worse. Coastal city homes in the United States will be destroyed and droughts will make farming difficult. Today, climate change is already having effects on places like California, Louisiana, and Florida. These states are seeing seemingly endless droughts, destructive storms, and massive floods that wreak havoc on cities.
Jayden Foytlin, a thirteen-year-old representative from Louisiana, said in a court case, “When I stepped out of my bed, I stepped in water that came up to my ankles. I stepped right in the middle of climate change.”
Olson told CNN, “Every year that we’ve been working on this is another year of emissions that have been building up and locking in more heating. We’re already at 1 degree Celsius of warming. When I started this work we were at 0.8. The current projections are within eight years we will be at 1.5 and in less than 30 (years) we’ll be at 2 degrees Celsius.”
If the human population keeps putting this issue to the side, there won’t be any of us left. Things are only going to get worse with time unless we act now. More people need to start their own movements and help out in any little ways they can. This is an issue that requires everyone to come together and fix what we’ve done to our planet.