By Zoe Johnson, May 11, 2012 10:53 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Last Spring, four young people – they are being represented legally by the law firm of Paul McClosky, a co-founder of Earth Day -- brought a lawsuit, Alec L. et. al vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al, against the U.S. Government charging them with not doing enough to curb climate change. On Friday, May 11, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins will hear arguments from the defendants – they include the Environmental Protection Agency, and the departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, Interior and Agriculture – who have filed a motion that the case be dismissed. If it is not, the litigation will be tried in a federal court.
The author, Zoe Johnson, is an 11th grader at The Urban School of San Francisco. She is a member of the iMatter movement and a Plaintiff in Alec v. Jackson, which advocates have dubbed the “Atmospheric Trust Litigation.”
Every day, I go to school, complain about homework, and think about my own future. But I also think about the future of our planet, and our environment. I don’t think that I should have to worry about whether our planet will still be inhabitable for my grandchildren, and their children when they are born, but I do. My generation, and every generation after us will have to live with the effects of climate change and, if the government does not regulate greenhouse gas emissions, things are only going to get worse. I refuse to sit back and watch it happen.
The public trust doctrine stipulates that the government cannot waste or destroy natural resources such as air and water. However, by not doing a better job of protecting these resources, that is exactly what our elected officials are doing.
The government needs to put a climate recovery plan in place as soon as possible, and at this point, the most direct and most efficient way to encourage that is through the federal courts -- which is why I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit with several other kids from across the country who believe the government must do more to protect the future of our planet.
On May 11th, 2012 the US District Court in Washington DC will hear all the reasons why the government and industry interests believe our lawsuit should be dismissed. If the judge rules in our favor, we will be able to make our case before the court that the federal government must put a nation-wide climate recovery plan in place. According to environmental scientist Dr. James Hansen, if we reduce emissions by a mere 6 percent every year, we can restore balance in the atmosphere.
Our future is at stake and the government has a legal obligation to protect the atmosphere and they are not doing enough. According to a March 2012 report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, the majority (72 percent) of Americans, across party lines, say that global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress, and an even greater majority (92 percent) think that development of clean energy technologies should be on the government's list of priorities.
Please join me in telling our government that you are one of the majority of Americans who believe in protecting our environment now. Please support our lawsuit and tell the President and Congress to talk to the kids of the iMatter movement and to put a national climate recovery plan in place. We need the U.S. government to take action now, and act as if our future matters.
To send a letter to the President go to: www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments