08 April 2012

Respect Your Youngers - Our Children's Trust Put to the Test

While kids are often reminded to respect their elders, we oldsters aren't often prompted to respect our youngers. But children certainly need us to put them first, especially when it comes to the climate change crisis, because they are a vulnerable sub-population who will be hit first, hit hardest and hit longest by the impacts of global warming on health, safety, food and water.
A judge in the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, in the United States of America, will very soon have the opportunity to demonstrate what respect for our youngest generation, and future generations, looks like. That judge will have the chance to turn to the fossil fuel junkies and traffickers (who say things like "Industry has a legally protected cognizable interest to freely emit CO2") and say "Your right to profit from pollution and destruction of the Earth does not trump the right of children to a safe and habitable planet."
I told you a few months ago about this Kids Vs Global Warming lawsuit against the US government to protect the atmosphere as a public trust. Well, things are now underway, and a DC judge has allowed the National Association for Manufacturers and other corporate groups to intervene on behalf of the government. (I guess the American government is calling in some favours, eh?)
On May 11th, these intervenors will be calling for the motion to be dismissed. If I were anywhere near Washington, DC that day, I would be in that courtroom to show my support for the young people.
Now, the judge will have to base his or her decision on the motion to dismiss the suit on "the law." But the law is based on precedents ... so how's this for a precedent? The rules of NAFTA (through its infamous Chapter 11) and the World Trade Organization can force whole countries (eg, Canada) to use dangerous substances (eg, MMT in their gasoline) or pay huge fines so that the manufacturers' shareholders won't lose money — in the future. As this Third World Network briefing paper on Ethyl Corp. suing Canada over MMT explains, "The company argues that the ban will reduce the value of Ethyl's MMT manufacturing plant, hurt its future sales and harm its corporate reputation" [my emphasis added].
That gives *future* shareholders legal and economic rights — and future shareholders are de facto future generations. Ergo, there's a precedent for affording rights to future generations. Created by the very sorts of corporations who are now fighting a lawsuit that would have them lower their carbon emissions to safeguard the future. Man, these corporations really want to have their profits and eat them, too!
Please, follow the lawsuit and support these young people any way you can! Before their right to a future becomes a thing of the past. Check out the iMatter Movement, Kids Vs Global Warming, and Our Children's Trust.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?