May 2, 2018
by Tish Levee
This theme’s issue is Parenting the Next Generation, but it’s beginning to look as if we can take all take some lessons from Generation “Z.”
Witnessing the articulate speeches and organizational ability of the young people at the March for Life on March 16th, I was blown away by how capable they are of taking on the problems they’ve inherited. They inspire me with hope, as do the many young people—a few of their stories below— who’re taking on the challenges of climate change and global warming.
Boyan Slat began tackling the oceans’ plastic at age 16.
Scuba diving in Greece, he was amazed to see more plastic than fish in the Mediterranean. Now, at 23, the CEO of the Ocean Cleanup Project is about to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area of floating plastic debris approximately twice the size of Texas. The Dutch inventor and entrepreneur devised advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, raising $31million by crowd funding. Recently Ocean Cleanup contracted with the City of Alameda to use part of the former Alameda Naval Station to assemble its nearly 2,000 foot long Cleanup System#1, which will be deployed the middle of 2018. It’s estimated to reduce the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50% in five years.
Boulder, CO, just joined at least nine other cities including New York, San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond, in suing fossil fuel companies, but they aren’t the only ones going to court over climate change.
Twenty-five young people, aged 7 to 26, sued the Columbian government for failing to protect the environment, claiming that deforestation in the Amazon and the increase of Columbia’s average temperature threaten their rights to a healthy environment, life, health, food, and water. After ruling in their favor the Supreme Court gave the government four months to present an action plan reducing deforestation in the Amazon region, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change in Columbia. (Despite international commitments to reduce the destruction of Columbia’s forests, recent statistics show deforestation increased by 44% between 2015 and 2016).
“Stop Talking/Start Planting,”is Felix Finkbeiner’s message to adults.
In 2007, then nine year-old Felix’s 4th grade project on climate change led him to challenge German youth to plant one million trees. From this grew Plant-for-the-Planet, which has since planted over 15 billion trees in more than 130 countries. Their goal now is planting one trillion trees, potentially absorbing an additional ten billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.
The group also runs one-day academies which have so far trained 67,000 Ambassadors for Climate Justice, aged 8 to 14. One of them, Seattle’s Aji Piper, is a plaintiff in Juliana vs. US, the children’s lawsuit against the US government over climate change, filed in 2015.
On March 7th, 21 plaintiffs, aged 10 to 21, won the right to move forward with their suit, Juliana vs US, after the Court of Appeals denied the Trump Administration’s move to have the suit dismissed prior to trial. The youths, joined by eminent climate scientist, James Hansen, sued in 2015, accusing US officials and oil industry executives of knowing that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels would destabilize the climate for decades, while refusing to do anything to stop it, thus violating the youths’ rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failing to protect essential public trust resources.
I found reading this case’s timeline fascinating on the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ website:ourchildrenstrust.org/federal-proceedings/, being particularly struck by many of the young peoples’ comments.
ECO2School, the Center for Climate Protection’s Youth Leadership Program focuses locally on alternative transportation, resulting in nearly 41,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in 2014-2015.
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