When you learn that the planet is being destroyed — that your government is destroying it and no one representing you is listening — hope is a hard thing to come by.
Especially when you’re still in high school and only just earned the right to vote. That’s why when you see the opportunity to sue the federal government for violating your constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, you take it. That’s what I did in August 2015.
As a young person, not only do I have no say in government policy, but its effects will harm me more than anyone in the White House today. The government of the United States of America has understood the potential impacts of excessive fossil fuel usage for over 50 years, but what have they done about it? Pushed the research under the table while continuing to support the expansion of fossil fuel extraction. Why? Because the government and fossil fuel corporations work together to make a profit at the expense of our future. If a democratic government of the people betraying its constitution and the trust of their citizens isn’t the basis for a lawsuit, I don’t know what is.
But I’m not the only plaintiff in this lawsuit. There are 21 of us. Why so many? Doesn’t Alex have his own case on the basis that the Jordan Cove pipeline in southern Oregon will likely compromise his water supply? What about Levi, who risks losing his entire home to impending sea level rise in Florida? Or Jayden, whose house in Louisiana only recently drained after severe flooding?
Because climate change is not one isolated incident, but a problem that affects each of us in unique and harmful ways. And to make that point, we need everyone to step up and demonstrate that we care about our future, the future of the marginalized communities who are already facing these consequences, and the future of the youth who can fearfully imagine what is to come. That’s why I’m asking you to join my fellow plaintiffs and I on April 29th at the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C.
When I joined the #youthvgov lawsuit with Our Children’s Trust, I was inspired by our case, I was inspired by the other plaintiffs, and I was inspired by our brilliant attorneys. But most of all, I was inspired by the community that continues to grow with us. We as plaintiffs not only represent ourselves, but everyone who has, is, and will continue to feel the effects of our government’s irresponsibility. Only so many people can fit into a courtroom, but the whole world could be standing outside. So make a sign, lace up your boots, and come march with us on April 29th.
For a better world,
20yo Plaintiff on the Our Children’s Trust U.S. Federal Climate Lawsuit