I am 16 years old. This morning I filed a lawsuit against the United States of America. Here's why.
Youth climate activists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia announced today that they're suing the government in order to create an "atmospheric trust," arguing that public trust law should protect the atmosphere for people and future generations. You can read more about the lawsuit on Loorz's iMatter March website. Below is a guest post from Alec Loorz, the 16 year-old founder of Kids vs. Global Warming and now organizer of the iMatter March. -Ben Jervey
I am 16 years old. This morning I filed a lawsuit against the United States of America, for allowing money to be more powerful than the survival of my generation, and for making decisions that threaten our right to a safe and healthy planet.
Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations have created a problem. They’ve developed a society that depends on burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil, to survive. They never realized that there were any huge consequences to running our lives with fossil fuels. But now, we do.
Our addiction to fossil fuels is messing up the perfect balance of nature and threatening the survival of my generation. If we continue to hide in denial and avoid taking action, I and my generation will be forced to grow up in a world where hurricanes as big as Katrina are normal, people die every year because of heat waves, droughts, and floods, and entire species of animals we’ve come to know disappear right before our eyes.
This is not the future I want. And I know that we still have a chance to turn this picture around. But, it’s going to take more than changing lightbulbs and buying hybrid cars. I believe it will take nothing less than a revolution... a revolution in our entire culture and way of thinking, so that we value nature and the future of my generation with every action we take.
And I believe this revolution needs to be led by youth. It’s our future we’re fighting for, and we are some of the most creative, dedicated, and passionate people on the planet. We have the moral authority to look into our parents and leaders eyes and ask them, “Do I matter to you?”
Also, as youth, we are the last group of people in the United States who don’t have any official political rights. We can’t vote, and we certainly can’t compete with rich corporate lobbyists, so we are forced to simply trust our government to make good decisions on our behalf.
However, it’s become clear that our government has failed us, by not protecting the resources on this planet we need to survive. Even though scientists overwhelmingly agree that carbon emissions are totally messing up the balance of our atmosphere, our leaders continue to turn their backs on this crisis.
The time has come for the youngest generation to hold our leaders accountable for their actions.
Today, I and other fellow young people are suing the government, for handing over our future to unjust fossil fuel industries, and ignoring the right of our children to inherit the planet that has sustained all of civilization. I will join with youth and attorneys in every state to demand that our leaders live and govern as if our future matters.
The government has a legal responsibility to protect the future for our children. So we are demanding that they recognize the atmosphere as a commons that needs to be preserved, and commit to a plan to reduce emissions to a safe level.
The plaintiffs and petitioners on all the cases are young people. We are standing up for our future.
But we will not only stand up in the courts. We will stand up in the streets as well.
Starting this Mothers’ Day weekend, the youngest generation will rise up and march in our communities. We will unite together with a powerful voice to call for action on climate change, and demand that our society lives as if our future matters.
We will let the world know that climate change is not about money, it’s not about power, it’s not about convenience. It’s about our future. It’s about the survival of this and every generation to come.
The iMatter March is a series of more than 100 marches in states all across the country, and 25 countries worldwide, including Columbia, Gambia, Germany, Thailand, India, and Nepal (on Mount Everest). There’s even one being planned by the son of an oil executive in Kuwait.
And it’s about more than just these events. This is a movement. A mass movement of young people standing up with a unified voice to tell the ruling generation that we will no longer just sit idly by as they make decisions that threaten our future. We matter. Our future matters.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” Well this is ours. The time has now come for the youngest generation to make a stand for our future.
This is our revolution. This is our time.
Alec Loorz is the founder of the iMatter campaign and of Kids vs Global Warming. A climate change activist since he was 12 years old, he has spoken to nearly 200,000 people in over 200 presentations, keynotes, and panels. Representing his generation, he advocates for and inspires youth to lead the way to a sustainable and just world. www.iMatterMarch.org to march in your community.