Kids are showing some spirit in fighting U.S. Supreme Court on climate change (letter) |

Kids are showing some spirit in fighting U.S. Supreme Court on climate change (letter)

A classic David and Goliath story is quietly unfolding in the climate change conversation.

On Monday, Oct. 29, a coalition of youth, ages 10 to 20, was scheduled to appear in the District Court of Oregon. Our Children’s Trust is arguing that the U.S. government’s “reluctance” to take meaningful action is violating their constitutional rights to a livable world.

For three years, the federal government has attempted to block this case from coming to trial. On July 30, 2018, our Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right to a hearing. However, on Thursday, Oct. 18, just 11 days before the trial was to start, the Trump Administration requested yet another stay, postponing the trial for yet another decision by our new Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Trump administration released a 500-page EIS study justifying their decision to roll back Obama-era emissions standards. The statement, prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officially conceded that human activity was driving climate change. However, all possible remedial actions were considered pointless and inconvenient. Therefore, why bother?

Twelve-step programs have something to say about this sort of thinking.

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Our reluctance to own up does seem to be a spiritual issue. And by that, I mean we do have a choice to rally and reclaim our souls … and a connection to something greater than ourselves. The human spirit thrives on possibility, not defeatism. I am beginning to suspect that our reluctance to adopt actions that are congruent with the idea of a livable planet may have more to do with an addiction to feeling powerless than we are willing to admit.

Sorting through our own conflict may be the key step. To be fair, most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes in a murky, grey area. Twelve-step programs recognize that breaking bad habits can be extremely challenging when we feel isolated.

Per Espen Stoknes, a social psychologist who studies collective gridlock on this issue, believes that being part of a social group that actively engages with the implementation of a small step is the most powerful motivation for generating collective momentum and positive feelings. Healthy conversation with family, friends and co-workers is an excellent place to begin.

In D.C., there is no longer any need to convince most lawmakers that climate change is real. The focus has shifted toward finding common ground for climate solutions. Renewable energy; a price on carbon emissions; clean, low-emission vehicles and energy efficiency all have a role to play.

Project Drawdown, organized by Paul Hawken, broadens this conversation in ways that were not anticipated. Educating girls, sustainable land use, plant-based diets and reducing food waste all ranked as highly effective solutions (in the top 10 of 80 solutions that were studied).

People may think the kids have no chance against the U.S. government. That may be so — but at least they’re showing some spirit.

Pamela Gibbs


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