King County Judge Makes Historic Ruling Against Washington State in Climate Change Case

Sydney Brownstone reported the following article in the April 29th, 2016, edition of The Stranger SLOG:

A King County Superior Court judge has reversed a ruling that gave the Washington State Department of Ecology the opportunity to decide when to cut statewide greenhouse gas emissions. Because of a lawsuit filed by eight Washington State kids, Judge Hollis Hill has ruled that the threat of climate change is so urgent that the state must be placed on a court-ordered deadline to hold polluters accountable now.

The decision was the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Judge Hill found that the state had a constitutional responsibility to protect its citizens—including the children who filed the lawsuit—but that dictating an additional greenhouse gas rule-making process wouldn’t be necessary. After all, in July of last year Governor Jay Inslee had directed Ecology to come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the plaintiffs, 10-year-old Adonis Piper, showed off his notes at a court hearing. Photo Credit: Sydney Brownstone
One of the plaintiffs, 10-year-old Adonis Piper, showed off his notes at a previous court hearing. Photo Credit: Sydney Brownstone of The Stranger

That changed when Ecology withdrew the draft rule in February of 2016 in order to take more time to confer with stakeholders. When that happened, the kids’ lawyer, Andrea Rodgers, asked the judge to change the earlier ruling in favor of the state based on two criteria: one, that the state had misrepresented the facts, and two, that extraordinary circumstances deemed it necessary.

Judge Hill didn’t think that Ecology committed fraud or misrepresentation by committing to a rulemaking process and then withdrawing a draft rule later. But she did agree with the kids’ lawyer that climate change constituted extraordinary circumstances.

“Ecology doesn’t dispute that current science establishes that rapidly increasing global warming causes an unprecedented risk to the earth, to the land, sea, and atmosphere, and all living plants and creatures,” Judge Hill said. Then the judge used Ecology’s own words to demonstrate the “extraordinary” circumstances, reading back a quote from 2014 warning of “serious economic and environmental disruptions.”

Judge Hill continued:

The reason I’m doing this is because this is an urgent situation. (…) These children can’t wait, the polar bears can’t wait, the people of Bangladesh can’t wait. I don’t have jurisdiction over their needs in this matter, but I do have jurisdiction in this court, and for that reason I’m taking this action.

Now the state must come up with a rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2016. In addition, it must make recommendations to the legislature next year to update the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals based on the most current science.

In order to demonstrate how climate change posed an immediate threat to Washington citizens—and how the state had failed to protect them from it—lawyer Andrea Rodgers cited the Quinault Indian Nation’s plan to relocate its ancestral village of Taholah away from the coastline because of rising sea levels. “People think that this is something that’s going to happen down the road when our friends, and our family, and our people in Washington are literally being relocated,” Rodgers said.

As for the judge’s ruling on extraordinary circumstances, “It’s not climate change that’s the extraordinary circumstance, it’s that this agency hasn’t done what it’s legally obligated to do for almost 30 years,” Rodgers told me after the courtroom let out. “And [Judge Hill] recognized that a court has a responsibility to step in and protect the rights of young people that are being harmed by climate change. This is world-changing and it’s amazing.”

The kid plaintiffs and their friends inside the courtroom were similarly stoked.

“I think it’s our biggest victory so far,” 12-year-old Athena Fain said.

“I mean, [Ecology] are our ‘elders,’ so to speak, and they’re supposed to guide us and help us, and it kind of feels like we’re guiding them to help us,” 14-year-old Gabe Mandel added. “So we’re totally thankful that amazing Judge Hollis Hill ruled in our favor.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Ecology stressed that the state was already taking climate change seriously. “We’re already working on an aggressive schedule trying to put this policy in place, and we’re going to stay on that schedule,” Ecology spokesperson Camille St. Onge said. “It’s our top priority as an agency. We understand how vital it is to protect our air, and our water, and our land for future generations.”

UPDATE: Governor Jay Inslee released a statement on Judge Hollis Hill’s ruling.

Below:

This case is a call to act on climate, and that call is one that has been a priority for me since taking office. Our state is helping lead the way on climate action in our country.

It appears the court is essentially reaffirming the need to do what we’ve already committed to doing, which is putting a policy in place by the end of the year that reduces carbon pollution in Washington state.

In a way it is gratifying that the court has also affirmed our authority to act, contrary to the assertion of those who continue to reject action on climate change and ocean acidification. Hundreds of people have participated in the creation of our state’s Clean Air Rule and the draft will be out in just a few weeks. People can also view the webinar held earlier this week in which over 500 people participated.

I’m fully committed to making sure we do our part to protect our air and water for our children in the years ahead.

3 Youth Plaintiffs from Our Children’s Trust met Bernie Sanders!

Our Children’s Trust posted to its members this wonderful photo and quote:

Bernie’s smile says it all, and so do his comments just before greeting Sahara, Avery and Hazel:
“Climate change is real. And for the sake of our kids and our grandchildren, we are going to have to have the courage to take on the fossil fuel industry and tell them that their short term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.”  – Bernie Sanders, April 28, 2016, Springfield, OR

110 New Ambassadors for Climate Justice: Seattle Plant-For-The-Planet

originally published by J. Crapper on Nov 6th  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/06/1251345/-Plant-for-the-Planet-Growing-But-Let-s-Add-Fertilizer

I first wrote about Plant for the Planet back on September 10, 2013.  Since then things have been happening very quickly. On May 24th 2013 in Seattle the first academy on the west coast trained 80 young students from 13 schools  . On Saturday, October 26, 2013 two more academies were organized for students from 26 Seattle area schools.   I volunteered at one of them and it was an uplifting and enlightening experience.

I witnessed:

Students 8 to 14 years old standing up in front of other students of the same age speaking with knowledge, clarity, passion and confidence about climate change.

Speaking with knowledge and confidence.

Kids showing other kids pictures of young people their age in other countries shaking hands with world leaders, pop stars, and famous actors and actresses. Young people showing pictures of themselves speaking in front of city councils, mayors and crowds numbering in the thousands.

I spoke to an eleven year old girl waiting in line to take the stage to present her portion of the presentation.  She looked me in the eye and said, “I’m a born leader.”  She then took the stage and confidently delivered her message to the crowd.

A parent volunteer who told me she at first was not excited about being involved but her daughter’s enthusiasm had convinced her to get involved. She was so thankful.

Young people in the crowd boldly questioning and offering solutions to Washington State Representative Jamie Pedersen who dropped by to show his support and share ideas.

Washington St. Rep., 43rd District fielding questions.

The day brought back fond memories of when I was a Middle School teacher.As a former Middle School teacher, with ten years experience teaching 5th, 6th and 7th grade, this academy reminded me of an elective I was allowed to develop and teach at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok, Thailand called Teacher’s Aide.  The elective introduced students to the field of teaching, gave them their own students to teach and the responsibility to design lesson plans, develop and administer tests, and give their students a grade entered into their official school record.  All this was under the guidance of me as their elective teacher.  It was extremely successful and both I and the administration were amazed at how mature, dedicated and effective the student teachers were with their own students.

In these Academies, much of the same is going on. Children who have already been trained in previous Academies, give speeches to a new group of children to teach them about the climate crisis and train them as “Ambassadors for Climate Justice”. Through group work and presentations the children are taught about climate justice and they also learn how to present these ideas to others in a confident and exciting way.

Michael Foster is the force behind this rapidly growing organization in the United States.  His main focus is seeding the Plant for the Planet  children’s initiative to other places as quickly as possible.  He argues effectively that children have the most to lose and hold the greatest sway with parents, inducing their involvement in the issue. I’m trying to help him out.  In Michael Foster’s own words:

Six years doesn’t seem like enough time to plant 1,000 billion trees, or to organize wealthy nations into paying impoverished nations for being green. But this volunteer-driven children’s movement is by far the most hopeful thing I’ve come across in 25 years of global warming news. How many environmental organizations have a 3-Point Plan to reverse global warming posted on their website? Simple and clear: 1 trillion trees by 2020, combat global poverty, and end carbon emissions. They’ve counted 12.6 billion trees planted in the last few years. That’s a start! Child Ambassadors hold absolute moral authority because when we grownups are gone, they’ll still be here. These children can change the conversation on climate from ‘whether it is happening’ to ‘What are you doing to protect my future? What are you doing today to stop global warming?’

I want every kid in the USA to have a chance to experience an Academy, to learn to speak out for the future they will inherit, while it’s still possible to make a huge difference.

Today the children need volunteers all across the country. What does it take to host an Academy for 80 students? People. Parents, retired teachers, college students, anybody can organize a day-long workshop for local kids in every town all over the USA. Let’s get a competition going to plant more trees.

We need our kids to tell us, ‘Stop wrecking my planet, right now!’ I know parents will listen when their kids say, ‘We shouldn’t drive that big SUV. I don’t think the earth can afford it. Maybe we should plant a thousand trees instead.’

Parents know we have to change our ways but we don’t want to short-change our children now, so we try not to think about it. But we’re failing our children treat them to a comfy life now, but don’t think ahead for them.

Foster uses the Photo Album test,

Imagine, looking back through a photo album in 20 years. The very things parents do today to privilege our children — pay for big vacations, big toys, a bigger house — these are the very things that our children are going to look back on in horror a few short years from now and say to us, ‘how could you do that, when you knew that Life was at stake?’

History of  Plant for the Planet (adapted from website)

In January 2007, a German boy, 9-year-old Felix Finkbeiner founded The Plant-for-the-Planet Children´s Initiative . While researching a climate project for school, Felix grew inspired by Wangari Maathai, who planted 30 million trees in Africa. In his class presentation, Felix ended by saying that he thought children could plant one million trees in each country of the world.

Since then Plant-for-the-Planet has grown into a worldwide movement.  By the start of 2011 there were children participating in more than 93 countries.  It has trained over 19,000 children from all over the word and that number is increasing rapidly.The United States has been a late comer to this children’s movement but that is about to change.  The ripples Michael Foster started are beginning to feel like waves!  He’s looking for others to assume the role he’s taken on in Seattle.

The program has all the elements to be successful and spread quickly.  Here’s why:

Engaged in the World games.

1.  It involves those most affected by climate change – young people.  It provides them with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to carry the message to their peers,  parents, teachers, politicians and community business leaders.2.  Peers listen to other peers.  It’s the power of peer pressure put to work.

3.  It involves parents with their kids future and educational development.  It motivates them to get involved in climate change action as a result of that involvement.  It is hard to ignore your children.

4.  It involves teachers always looking for creative and innovative opportunities to engage their students in order to teach them valuable skills such as leadership and public speaking.

5.  It involves politicians.  It is hard to ignore a young person knocking on your door or asking you a question if you are a public figure. They know if they do their parents, whom they need to vote for them, will not forget.

Participants learning about properly planting a tree.

6.  It involves community business leaders always looking for good PR opportunities in order to portray  a caring partner image to their community of customers.

7.  It attracts the press.  Young people doing amazing things always attracts the cameras.

8.  And finally, and most importantly, it gives all involved a tangible, realistic way to get involved and move forward with a feeling of hope and empowerment.

To begin the process of organizing your own Academy the best place to start is at the Plant for the Planet website.  Here are some key places to visit.

1.  Suggested flyer and schedule for Academy (template).

2.  Pictures to choose from for slideshow presentation (power point) (takes some time to load but worth the wait). These pictures are used as visual aides to assist students oral presentations.

3.  Ideas and detailed information on how to get the ball rolling in your community.

Other resources:

1.  Announcement used for Seattle Academies

2.  Seattle Plant for the Planet press kit

3. Seattle Plant for the Planet flyer

This is a YES WE CAN program bubbling with the optimism that only youth can bring to the table.  We need that energy in the environmental movement.  It’s time to Stop Talking and Start Planting.  It’s time we join and assist in any way we can these young Ambassadors for Climate Justice.

Ambassadors for the climate.

Michael Foster: A mental health therapist and father in Seattle. Mike always had an interest in the impacts humans have on the health and welfare of our planet. From his childhood in Texas, where he grew up in the shadow of oil refineries, he has always been aware that we have the ability and the obligation to be positive stewards for the Earth – not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

Mike is a speaker for the Climate Reality project, the Al Gore initiative, and volunteers his time to present “The Slide Show” to any and all interested groups. His particular focus is exploring the ways that families can work together to reverse global warming and create a sustainable future.

Michael Foster is ready to help anybody interested in organizing and conducting their own Academy.

Plant For The Planet Academy: Sign Up Today

Plant For The Planet Academy

October 26th, 9am – 5pm

2 locations – Jane Addams School & Cleveland HS, Seattle WA

Free or all students ages 8 – 14 No cost to attend. 

Sign up today!

Imagine planting a million trees, what you would feel like, how you would change the world… Now get started! 80 lucky students ages 8 – 14 from area schools will train to serve our community as Climate Justice Ambassadors! Worldwide, over 19,000 young students have been through this fun and educational Academy training, and joined forces as leaders of the Official Tree-Planting Campaign of the United Nations.

All participants receive:

  • free Plant For The Planet T-shirt
  • free copy of the book “Tree By Tree” by Felix and Friends
  • snacks (Bring your own sack lunch and water bottle)
  • training in how to present the slideshow to an audience
  • support getting started with friends after the workshop

Play experiential games to understand how our world needs to change, learn to plant a tree with Seattle Parks naturalists, get a photo with local leaders, rehearse the slideshow and end the day giving the slideshow to invited guests.

Students, age 8 – 14, who care about our future and who want to plant a truly tree-mendous transformation of our planet, please attend this one-day workshop on May 24th to send a powerful signal against the climate crisis.

At 4pm that day, families and invited guests will come see the slideshow presentation given by the students at the conclusion of the training. Plan to attend with the whole family to experience this powerful work and celebrate the world’s newest Climate Justice Ambassadors! Then join us in Seattle Parks the following Saturday November 2nd, Green Seattle Day! Bring the whole family out to launch Seattle’s Tree-planting Season.

Thanks to support from the Seattle Parks Dept, and Coolmom for all the help making this a fantastic free event, open to all students!

To learn more, go to the “Seattle Plant for the Planet Academy” page. Questions? Contact Michael Foster.

Seattle iMatter Now Earth Day March!

APRIL 2OTH, 2013, 11AM at Pike Place Market

More than a march for kids, Seattle iMatter Now March celebrates the launch of a local youth-led climate justice movement! Young people hold absolute moral authority on climate change, reminding grownups just how much we care. Come join other like-minded young people to create a network of environmental activists and be  the change we need in the world!

Seattle iMatter Now March

  • Gather at the Totem Pole just north of Pike Place Market in Victor Steinbrueck Park to meet friends,  hear youth speakers from Seattle and from First Nations rally us to reverse global warming, and begin our March for climate justice!
  • We’ll march down to the waterfront where we’ll take our human-powered “coal train” across the tracks and transform it into a beautiful work of art! Then on to Olympic Sculpture Park where we’ll join the Earth Day for Kids celebration for food music activities and more speakers.

Want to be involved?  Here’s how!

  1. Meet us at the Totem Pole at 11am, 4/20. Invite friends and get creative, make signs and wear something red or a costume that’ll make a great statement against climate change. (salmon, orca, eagle, frog, creatures we endanger as we heat up the planet…)
  2. Speaking of art, everyone’s invited to come Build ART for the March. Join us in Fremont at the Powerhouse (next to BF Day Elementary) on April 7th and 14th (Sundays) from 10am to 4pm.  Make fun skull masks out of milk cartons, salmon puppets to wave, and help build our “Coal Train” !! Thanks for all the amazing leaders from Backbone Campaign, Get Money Out of Politics, and the Fremont Solstice Parade for pulling this together and making the kids’ march so Artful!
  3. Join an online network of like-minded youth:  Sign up with iMatter youth.org to become part of the national movement. And once the local website is up and running, sign up to become of the local movement.
  4. Also look for my Climate Change For Families slideshow events coming up this month. Come learn more about the climate crisis and how young people around the world are leading the revolution for a clean livable planet.
  5. VOLUNTEER! Leave a comment or question if you’d like more information about how to get involved volunteering for the event. This is people-powered, so offer to help any way you like!

15-year-old Petitions for Stronger Climate Change Science

“Climate change is the most pressing and threatening issue to modern-day society. Through lack of understanding from generations before us, we are having to fix it. And how can we do this without education?”

15 year old Esha Marhawa from West London wrote a petition to keep climate change in the national curriculum for children in England. She’s outraged that the newly proposed curriculum vastly scales back on teaching climate change.

“Geography… inspired me enough to realise that not only is the earth a beautiful place, but one that is in desperate need of our help. More importantly, it inspired me to get out there and do as much as I could.”

Her petition on the website change.org gets more signatures every hour. You can Sign the petition even if you don’t live in London or go to Hogwarts.

What are our standards for teaching climate change science in the U.S.A., anyway?

…Anybody? …Anybody?

In December, I offered my climate change slideshow to a 7th grade Science class. They were just wrapping up their unit on Climate, so the timing was Perfect. I started by asking students a rhetorical question, “Who here knows about climate change?” 3 hands went up out of 27 students.”Do you know about greenhouse gasses?” 2 hands went up. The teacher smiled politely. And that’s when it hit me.

It turns out “Climate” in our public schools is tornadoes, weather systems, earthquakes, and you know… “Climate.” “Change” is something else. I looked back at the students, my jaw on the floor.

Halfway through my talk I show a graph of today’s level of CO2. A 12 year old shot up out of his seat and shouted, “How long has this been happening? Why hasn’t anyone done anything about this?”

He was terrified and angry. And he was right to be. I assured him, “I’m getting to that now.” He sat down again quietly and the class listened for 45 minutes barely breathing. The end of the talk is an inspiring call to action using examples of youth leaders who are changing the world.

I asked the 7th graders to write down their immediate reaction to the new coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, WA. I took their written comments to the public hearing in Downtown Seattle that very night.

Michael Foster reads comments from 7th graders into the public record.

I shared their dismay, their horror, their sense of what is right and good in the public record. These 12-year-old kids who learned of global warming that day added their voices to the growing chorus demanding an end to the madness destroying their planet.

2,500 Washingtonians had crowded into the Convention Center to oppose the coal export terminal. The wildest, loudest cheers of the night ( in fact the only cheers permitted in the hall) shook the rafters as children spoke up courageously, with absolute moral authority, to teach us grownups what is right and good, and what is madness. You can watch the video online.

Back to Esha’s petition:

“Our government, part of the generation who bear much of the responsibility for this problem, intends to not only fail to act on climate change themselves but to obscure the truth from children and young people. It is outrageous that Michael Gove can even consider the elimination of climate change education for under-14s. We must keep climate change in the curriculum in order for young people to take on this challenge of tackling the threat posed by our changing climate.”

Meanwhile…

Here in the U.S., the fossil fuel friendly Heartland Institute “think tank”  has written new science curriculum. Video: Heartland Dept of Education

Kinda makes you want to start a petition doesn’t it?

Bringing Plant For The Planet to Seattle

In my slideshow for The Climate Reality Project I have introduced audiences in Seattle to the inspiring work of Felix Finkbeiner in Germany, who founded Plant For The Planet a few years ago.

I want to bring an Academy here so that our kids can take the training, learn how to train other kids, become skilled in organizing and fundraising, understand climate justice, and finally HELP PLANT A TRILLION TREES! That’s right, Trillion with a T and that stands for Trees! The only Trouble is finding a corporate sponsor for the event.

If you know of someone who works at one of the big companies in Seattle, please call me and let’s talk about sponsorship of this Academy training event. Help me make contact with a sponsor and we will get this group to come to Seattle this year!

This kind of reforestation is called the 2nd Solution to global warming. Since our CO2 level is way beyond the safe limit, we need more trees to rapidly reabsorb all that excess carbon. Reforesting areas that have been deforested in the last century would put us back on a path our kids can live with. Felix and the kids who run Plant For The Planet are hard at work planting trees right now.

The 1st Solution is reducing CO2 emissions 8% a year starting in 2013. We need to get started now on Solution #1, then we’ll see all the benefits of solution #2 as kids around the world plant millions of trees in their home countries. When those trees start soaking up more and more pollution, we’ll be so grateful. And it will change the course of history.

If we do both of these things, reduce pollution and massive reforestation of lands, by the end of our kids’ lifetimes at the end of this century, our planet just might get back to a climate something like in the 1980’s. It’s going to be a hot century, but if we do everything we can right away to avoid the most dangerous planetary impacts, our kids and their kids’ kids have a pretty good chance at avoiding total catastrophe for the next century. Sounds like a good bet to me even if the odds are long ! I’d rather bet on the side of helping plant more trees and go to bed each night knowing, “I’m doing the best I can.” Always.

Because of Felix and young people all over the world, we are already well on our way!

Over 12.6 billion trees have been planted so far. Check out Plant for the Planet .

Beach Cleanup at Discovery Park

Care for the Planet, the Lincoln Elementary club working to reverse global warming, cleaned debris from Discovery Park beach on our day off from school. A bald eagle watched over us while we worked, and did a long slow graceful fly-by at eye level when we circled up to say thanks and goodbye. What a day!

iMatter March Seattle – Join In!

Planning is underway for a major event on Earth Day weekend, an iMatter Youth March and training!

We will march along the waterfront and cross the train tracks to Olympic Sculpture Park for an Earth Day event. The puppeteers from Backbone Campaign, the Sierra Club, and others have joined in to help us make this event a success. Let’s get the word out to every teacher, every student, and make our voices heard!

This will be a local Seattle event only, not an international day as originally intended because iMatter has their hands full right now, because …

President Obama MIGHT hold a Presidential Climate Summit this Spring, IF enough of us speak up right now.

Kids and parents, please sign the petition!

Updates and more details on this event will be shared on the iMatter March page …

Declaration of Independence from Fossil Fuels

Alec Loorz, founder of kids vs. global warming, wrote this new Declaration as a teenager. For the last few years he has been collecting signatures of youth from across the country and delivering them to congress each year. You can read the text here, and then go to iMatteryouth.org to Sign the document online and your signature will get delivered this year to Washington D.C., along with thousands of others calling for climate justice now!

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to rid themselves of an energy system that has been found to threaten their lives and liberties, it is only decent that they should declare the causes of separation from the dependence on Fossil Fuels.

We, the youth of these United States, know that some truths are self-evident: that all people are created Equal and that they have certain inalienable Rights: especially the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Because of our addiction to fossil fuels, the Earth has been pushed out of balance and suffers from Global Warming.  The effects of that warming include extreme weather shifts, more frequent natural disasters, melting ice caps and glaciers, global sea level rise, diminishing food and water supplies, and habitat loss.  These problems put the Children of this and every Nation, thousands of entire Species of animals and plants, and Future Generations in danger of losing their rights to Life, Liberty and Happiness.

So, when the burning of fossil fuels has been shown to cause Global Climate Change, it is time for those most affected to stand up and to demand change. We call for change from our cities, our states, and from our Nation.  And we commit to change ourselves.

Therefore, We, the youth of the United States of America, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of this Country, solemnly publish and declare, that we, as a Community, ought to be Free and Independent from lifestyles and forms of energy that cause Global Climate Change.

We Implore our Leaders to build of a Secure Future, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent People may of right do to build a more Sustainable and Just Society. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge our Commitment, our Passion and our sacred Struggle for Equality and Justice.

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