Following my recent appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher," the Washington Examiner's Tom Rogan wrote to express his fears. Remarkably, he thinks Putin could benefit from what he calls my "Martinez-style theocracy," that Lenin would be proud of me, and that the constitutional climate lawsuit of which I'm a plaintiff, alongside 20 other youths, is "authoritarian" and "dangerous."
With regards to the objectives of our Juliana v. U.S. lawsuit, Rogan has it absolutely right: Twenty other youths and I are demanding that the federal government develop and implement a national climate recovery plan that would phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric CO2.
Our agenda is not political: We filed the lawsuit against the Obama administration in 2015; we became Trump's problem on Inauguration Day 2017.
Rogan talks about the foundation of our democracy. What he omits is that in the Fifth Amendment, the founders recognized the fundamental right of citizens to be free from government actions that harm life, liberty, and property. Our nation's climate system, including its atmosphere and oceans, is tightly tied to this right. James Madison, who drafted the constitution, said in 1818: "The atmosphere is the breath of life."
In Texas and in Florida, we just saw our climate, infused by fossil fuel-created carbon pollution, infringe upon the inalienable right to life, liberty, and property. One of my co-plaintiffs, 10-year old Levi, lives on a barrier island in Florida. The federal government's contribution to our climate crisis, with the cooperation of the fossil fuel industry, directly violates this right, especially us as young people.
Rogan also worries about my "top climate scientists." One of the 16 experts offering evidence in support of our lawsuit is James Hansen, who also serves as a guardian in the suit for his granddaughter, my co-plaintiff Sophie. Hansen is the director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at the Earth Institute, part of Columbia University. He's also the immediate past director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. He is indeed a "top climate scientist" and has developed the scientific prescription for the climate recovery plan that our world direly needs.
There is too much at stake to play bureaucratic games. Now more than, ever we need concrete action. The future of our nation, our economies, and our planet are counting on a transition away from an extractive-based economy. The solar industry employs more people than coal, oil, and gas combined, with cities and countries transitioning toward renewable energy worldwide.
Youths holding our governments accountable for upholding the constitution and protecting our rights is us exercising our democracy in the eleventh hour. We are playing our part in shaping our healthy future. Join us, or you'll get left behind with Rogan and the dead dinosaur energy empire.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a 17-year-old climate activist. He is one of the 21 youths in Juliana v. U.S. who have filed a lawsuit against the government over climate and energy policies.
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