A group of kids whose lives have been–or will be–greatly affected by a global rise in temperatures are taking advantage of their right to fight the U.S. stance on climate change. Or Trump’s stance, rather.
17-year-old Nathan Baring is an Alaska native. Once upon a time, he could enjoy cold weather activities as early as August. Now he normally has to wait until November, much like the rest of the country. He blames rising temperatures for the change, and he’s willing to take the U.S. government to court because they’re not doing enough to protect his beloved way of life.
9-year-old Levi Draheim is facing a different crisis: one that hasn’t happened yet, but almost certainly will. By the time he is 42 years old, it is expected that climate change-fueled rising water will submerge his current home on an island off of Florida’s Atlantic coast. He too takes the matter seriously enough to hold the government responsible for its inaction.
These two children are fighting alongside nineteen others in order to take the U.S. government to task, claiming it has the responsibility to protect its citizens from the effects of climate change instead of making policy that makes it more likely to threaten the welfare of future generations.
Scientists believe that summer Arctic sea ice will vanish by 2050. Temperatures could rise up to four degrees Fahrenheit. The effects will be felt everywhere, not just in the north. The remaining rainforests could face additional devastation, wreaking even more global havoc and increasing the opportunity for freak weather events already on the rise.
The lawsuit levied against the federal government contends that public trust doctrine was violated. This doctrine has ancient roots. It means that government can and should be held accountable for their failure to protect natural resources for public consumption. These include both land and water. Because the climate affects these resources, the government is indirectly implicated in their demise.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has since joined the fight. He called the current climate and energy policy “at-best schizophrenic, if not suicidal.” U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken sided with the claim with a ruling that said our kids have a fundamental right to a stable environment, going one step further by stating how a stable climate is also necessary to maintain a free and ordered society.
Her ruling paves the way for the lawsuit to proceed as planned.