It’s a wonderment. My 12-year old granddaughter and 15-year old grandson resonate politically like nobody’s business. I’m 1500 miles away and their parent’s aren’t overtly political, so how did it happen that they “know” about these things … as in “kuh-no” … have an awareness of political stuff reminiscent of my own generation that exploded against cultural repression and growing militarism in the 60s?
I suppose that’s all part of the grand plan, yes? Well, hooray! This is the kind of thing we need MORE of! MUCH MORE!
Pass this post around to those who need their spirits lifted. For those who think the world has no future, another look at these young ones might just change their mind.
Youths sue U.S. government over climate inaction
An unprecedented massive legal campaign led by young Americans is playing out in courtrooms across the nation
Amel Ahmed, Al Jazeera
May 4, 2014
Young people across the country are suing several government agencies for failing to develop a climate change recovery plan, conduct that amounts to a violation of their constitutional rights, says their lawyer Julia Olson.
Their futures are at stake, say the young plaintiffs.
“Climate change is the biggest issue of our time,” said 13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a member of nonprofit Kids vs. Global Warming, a plaintiff in the suit.
“It’s not every day you see young people getting involved politically but the climate crisis is changing all that. Every generation from here on out is going to be affected by climate change,” added Roske-Martinez, who also founded environmental nonfprofit Earth Matters and organized successful actions in his hometown of Boulder, Colo.
The federal suit, which has made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is part of a groundbreaking nationwide legal campaign spearheaded by youth and backed by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and legal scholars.
The case, filed by five teenagers and two nonprofits — WildEarth Guardians and Kids vs. Global Warming — representing thousands more youth, relies on the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires government to protect resources essential to the survival of all generations.
“With the United States as the largest historic emitter of carbon dioxide, the atmospheric resource cannot be restored without government action,” Olson told Al Jazeera.
Supported by more than 30 environmental and constitutional professors, the young plaintiffs name six federal agencies in their suit — the Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense.
“The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions … youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation,” read the complaint.
In addition to the federal suit, actions were filed in all 50 states with help from Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that supports young people through legal efforts.
The scale of the campaign is unprecedented, according to law professor Mary Wood, faculty director at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the University of Oregon.
“Never before in the history of our laws have we seen a coordinated set of legal actions on this scale,” she said.
The monumental campaign matches the magnitude of the problem, supporters say.
Because climate change is a recent phenomena, there’s no precedent. Judges haven’t had to face the climate crisis. ++
This Fifth-Grader Raised $200,000 to Clean Up the Gulf Oil Spill by Selling Watercolors
These three young activists found creative ways to tackle issues from climate change to voting rights.
YES! Magazine staff
Apr 30, 2014
1. Olivia Bouler: Painting to rescue birds and restore habitat
Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Olivia Bouler asked the National Audubon Society how her skill as an artist and her love of birds could be put to use. The fifth grader from Islip, N.Y., created a web page offering her vibrantly colored and lively paintings in exchange for donations.
Five hundred of Bouler’s watercolors of pelicans, warblers, buntings, and other North American birds were claimed within three weeks, and donors eventually contributed $200,000 to restoration efforts.
In the media coverage that followed, Bouler spoke about the importance of small actions in response to big environmental issues like habitat loss and pollution. She sees kids’ ability to focus on one piece at a time as a lesson to adults for whom the overwhelming magnitude of a problem may be an obstacle to taking action.
To spark kids’ interest in nature, Bouler, now in high school, regularly shares her knowledge and enthusiasm for birds and drawing in classrooms, sometimes with the help of her younger brother Jackson, a puppeteer. A traveling exhibit of her artwork and her children’s book, Olivia’s Birds, encourage people to mobilize, one beach or backyard at a time.
2. Madison Kimrey: Speaking on behalf of future voters
When 12-year-old Madison Kimrey isn’t juggling schoolwork, voice lessons, and drama rehearsals, she’s speaking out to protect voting rights for young people. Recently, her home state of North Carolina passed a restrictive voter ID law that sparked lawsuits from the NAACP and the ACLU, who believe it will dissuade some demographics, including young adults, from voting.
Kimrey sought a meeting with Governor Pat McCrory to discuss her opposition to the law’s elimination of voter pre-registration for teenagers. McCrory ignored her request, calling her a “prop for liberal groups.” Bubbly and quick-witted Kimrey, who writes all her own speeches, replied that Governor McCrory’s response “isn’t the kind of leadership that our state deserves.”
Kimrey is in favor of voter pre-registration for teens because it makes it more likely that young people will cast their first ballot at age 18. She sees her championship of voting rights for teenagers as the latest manifestation of a long tradition: “I am a part of the new generation of suffragettes,” she says. Her work with MoveOn.org’s campaign for a federal voter pre-registration program for teenagers has been recognized with the Youth Ambassador award from Davidson Young Scholars.
3. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Demanding protection for the atmosphere
Thirteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a Colorado group that involves young people in fighting climate change. He’s well qualified for the role, having been an environmental activist since the age of six. Martinez’s Aztec first name, pronounced “Shoe-Tez-Caht,” reflects the indigenous ancestry and belief system he sees as the source of his environmentalism. “We were all indigenous at one point,” says Martinez, but “we have forgotten that the Earth gives us all that we need.”
Saddened by the environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracking in his home state of Colorado, Martinez is a plaintiff in lawsuits that seek to hold the state and federal governments accountable for protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. “We’re asking for a six percent carbon reduction annually,” Martinez explained of the federal lawsuit backed by NASA scientist James Hansen, “which could get us back down to 350 parts per million.”
Martinez looks for ways to make environmental activism appealing to young people. Despite the adult responsibilities of his role as a spokesperson, he enjoys being a regular kid in his spare time: playing ninjas, rope swinging into water holes, and writing inspirational rap songs. ++
When This Teacher’s Ethnic Studies Classes Were Banned, His Students Took the District to Court—and Won
Curtis Acosta’s classes in Mexican American Studies gave kids pride in their heritage—until the Arizona Legislature canceled them. That’s when his students became activists, and some real-life lessons began.
Jing Fong, YES! Magazine
Apr 25, 2014
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King
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