Environmentalists and a former NASA climate scientist are using 21 children to sue the federal government for allowing the burning of fossil fuels and “knowingly” harming future generations by causing global warming.
The intent of the lawsuit: to force the U.S. with a court order to phase out fossil fuel use and reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million by the end of the century.
“For over fifty years, the United States of America has known that carbon dioxide (‘CO2′) pollution from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming and dangerous climate change, and that continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize the climate system on which present and future generations of our nation depend for their wellbeing and survival,” reads a lawsuit filed by Earth Guardians on behalf of 21 children allegedly being harmed by global warming.
“As a result, Defendants have infringed on Plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property,” the eco-lawsuit reads. “Defendants’ acts also discriminate against these young citizens, who will disproportionately experience the destabilized climate system in our country.”
Environmentalists and regulators have been increasingly holding up children as reasons to fight global warming. President Barack Obama, for example, has used his own daughter’s asthma attacks to personalize the climate debate. Environmental groups have jumped on this bandwagon and routinely claim global warming will make asthma and other respiratory illnesses much worse.
Environmentalists filed their federal lawsuit in Oregon where the Obama administration recently approved a liquefied natural gas terminal. The LNG terminal, among other projects, is being used by activists to highlight the “deliberate indifference” of the government when it comes to global warming.
But will this lawsuit actually work? Eco-activists are looking to imitate similar lawsuits from around the world. In June, a Dutch court sided with environmentalists and forced the government of the Netherlands to commit to deeper CO2 emissions cuts.
In Washington state, a lawsuit brought on behalf of children forced the state’s Department of Ecology to consider a petition asking officials to commit to CO2 cuts based on the “best available science.”
Interestingly enough, one of the children is being represented by former NASA climatologist James Hansen — an outspoken opponent of fossil fuels who recently put out a report warning that sea levels could rise about 10 feet because of global warming.
Listed in the lawsuit as Sophie K., Hansen’s granddaughter, who’s suing the government because she “would like to have the ability to one day live in coastal cities like New York or Los Angeles” which the suit argues are threatened by rising sea levels.
Sophie also claims that global warming is already hurting her because she had to miss school days because of Hurricane Sandy and because “hailstorms have damaged her house; floodwaters often inundate roads by her house; and Sophie has even been forced to prepare for tornado warnings, which are very unusual for the area where she lives”
The legal filing also claims that this year “Sophie’s health was adversely impacted for the first time by pollen allergies, a condition exacerbated by global and regional warming.” Adding that Sophie will also be harmed by “[e]xtreme weather events, intense heat, and rising seas.”
Earth Guardians’ suit also tells the stories of how the other 20 plaintiffs are being harmed by global warming, including one story from a teenager who’s descended from Aztecs and “engages in sacred indigenous spiritual and cultural practices to honor and protect the Earth.”
Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh M., who’s only 15 but apparently has been an environmental activist in Colorado for the last nine years, claims that he’s “suffered harm to his spiritual and cultural practices from” fossil fuel use.
“Xiuhtezcatl’s home, including the forests that he relies upon for his spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, will continue to die and burn as climate change worsens,” the lawsuit reads. “Water will become increasingly scarce, adversely impacting every aspect of his life.”
Another plaintiff, 11-year-old Zealand B., wants to sue the government, in part, because “[r]afting trips with his family have been canceled or shortened due to the increased temperatures, drought, and reduced water levels.” Zealand also claims he and his family “twice experienced large forest fires while rafting on Oregon rivers.”
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