A group of 21 teenagers and children, some as young as as 10, have filed a lawsuit in a federal distract court in Eugene, OR against the federal government. They contend that the US government knew about the harmful effects of global climate change and failed to do anything to stop it, so that now the youth claim their world is irreversibly negatively affected. It is a landmark case called Juliana v. US. The plaintiffs filed this case against the US government for its primary role in contributing to climate change and for causing it. In the process, these youth contend the government has set in motion warming trends as evidenced in storm patterns, melting ice caps, ecosystem upheaval which causes such extreme climate change that it is violating their rights to life, liberty, and property while also failing to protect essential public resources.
These youth range in age from 10 to 21 and include one boy who is the son of a UCC pastor in Oregon. They raise a serious issue that worries many children and youth. Most of the group cannot vote yet but they are committed to raising the issue of climate change in the most dramatic way that they can.
Their journey began 3 years ago when these 21 joined Dr. James Hansen in a lawsuit that seeks to secure their constitutional and public trust rights to a stable climate. Three trade associations representing fossil fuels tried to stop the lawsuit, filing motions to dismiss the case and throw it out of court. The US government also filed motions to dismiss, but the youth won the right to proceed. In April 2018 US Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin recommended that all motions to dismiss be denied, paving the way for the case to continue.
As this case winds its way through the court system it raises awareness about the costs of climate change and who will pay for it. Climate change has a particular impact on the young who inherit this world. They are raising awareness but also making the point that we all need to take action, if only for our children and grandchildren. You can learn more about the lawsuit and the kids at this site: Our Children's Trust at ourchildrenstrust.org
I have heard people say that climate change is cyclical and we are experiencing the same kind of warming trends that people knew in the Middle Ages and before. But the current trends appear to scientists to be un-precedented, Records for thousands of years fail to show the marked sudden increase in global warming we have seen since the Industrial Revolution. I am not an expert but I recommend a a new book about climate change in our church library. It is entitled Beyond Debate: 50 Misconceptions about Climate Change. It is written by Dr. Shahir Masri, who has been traveling from California to 39 states to talk about climate change. He and his fiancé, Athina Simolaris, spoke at the Community Center several weeks ago. When I walked in to hear the presentation I discovered 6 of us from Pilgrim Church had independently decided to attend and learn more, which pleased me.
Here at Pilgrim Church, the Social Justice Task Force has decided to make climate change their priority for programming and education this year. Please plan to stay for lunch on Oct. 13 when we can all learn more about what we can do as a faith community to stop climate change. We will be hosting a speaker Rev. Paul Minus in Monbleau Hall after lunch.