Last year, on August 12, 2015, a group of courageous millennials filed suit against President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet for failing to adequately address the climate change problem commensurate with the threat, despite the fact that we have known for decades that human-caused global warming has been worsening over time as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have continued to rise. The lawsuit, Juliana et al v. U.S. et al and known in social media as #YouthvGov, petitions the court to order the federal government to develop and implement a national plan that would bring down atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to a level deemed “safe” by climate scientists – 350 parts per million (ppm) – by the year 2100. This federal lawsuit and a batch of similar suits filed in U.S. states, and even in other countries, are being overseen and coordinated by a group of dedicated attorneys and experts at Our Children’s Trust (OCT), with the stated mission “to protect Earth’s atmosphere and natural systems for present and future generations.” Julia Olson, OCT’s founder and executive director, and the Lead Attorney for the federal suit, has recently been profiled by CNN: “Meet the mom litigating the ‘biggest case on the planet.’”
Meet the plaintiffs, ages 9 to 20: Kelsey, Xiuhtezcatl, Alexander, Jacob, Zealand, Avery, Sahara, Kiran, Tia, Isaac, Miko, Hazel, Sophie, Jaime, Journey, Victoria, Nathaniel, Aji, Levi, Jayden, and Nicholas. They are from all over the United States, they are worried about their future in a climate-disrupted world, they went to court as a last resort to get their country to do right by them, and they mean business. While none of them are old enough to rent a car or buy a six-pack of beer, each of them demonstrates a rare brand of wisdom, capability, maturity, and strength of character. Truth be told, these kids are putting grownups to shame. The adults in America have fallen down on the job of passing a livable Earth on to future generations.