Special Young Writers Report
By Peter Elwood, Music Therapy student
“Do you love me?”
It is a question that children ask hundreds, if not thousands, of times throughout their childhood. It is a plea for safety and the search for protection. Today we see the same question being asked by children and young adults with regard to the future of our planet.
Beginning in May of 2011, fifty two separate lawsuits are being filed claiming that the government has failed to protect the public by failing to regulate our country’s carbon emissions. These “public trust” lawsuits are based on the idea that the government has an obligation to protect our natural resources as well as our own lives from present threats.
It so happens that in this case, the present threat is human-induced global warming. The basis of environmental threats being treated as “public trust” issues is far from revolutionary. Supreme Court rulings have protected bodies of water and wildlife for decades. But these cases involve the atmosphere, and that is a very foreign topic.
Lawsuits began last May in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Shortly following the initial cases, Hawaii and our very own New Jersey will be presented with the case. These lawsuits will be followed by petitions sent out in the other 38 states in an attempt to establish environmental policies, and lower carbon emissions.
The logic behind these cases is compelling and if nothing else, it will add an entirely new dimension to the political debates over carbon emissions. However, the most remarkable aspect of these lawsuits is who’s behind them.
You’d think that organizing and directing such a massive judicial procedure must have taken the work of countless politicians and attorneys, right? Surely it was organized by a powerful chairman of an environmental or political advocacy group…wasn’t it?
Surprisingly, the mastermind behind these lawsuits is 16-year-old Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs. Global Warming. Loorz has been passionately fighting to protect our earth since age 12. Believing that “the legislative and executive branches of our government have failed us,” Loorz, with the help of four other teenagers, is attempting to make a change through the judicial branch.
|Alec Loorz: Teen earth defender
We are currently living in an age where politicians understand that making a stand on any one issue may lower their chances of re-election. Many find this seeming lack of passionate urgency to be disheartening or frustrating. Yet few view it to be truly threatening. Alec Loorz, however, sees this threat. He is a young man who feels the urgency in his heart.
Without some sort of political and social action, the world that Alec and I inherit will become increasingly inhospitable. So while our generation has been labeled the “lazy generation” it is very likely that we will have to spend our lives trying to reverse the trends of the generations preceding us.
In 2008, the book, “Do Hard Things” by 19-year-olds Alex and Brett Harris, was written to encourage teenagers to rebel against the low expectations that have been placed upon them. The book reads:
“Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last. We do.”
|Kids raising sign indicating sea levels from polar ice melt.
Obviously many of my peers will not pursue such a motivated lifestyle. However, it is individuals like Alec Loorz that give me hope for a better future.
As children living in a world in crisis, this “lazy generation” must find new ways to live that not only reduce the damage that has been done to our home, but reverse it. So with that, I give my thanks and admiration to Alec Loorz and the rest of his team who have ignored the assumed restrictions of age and have gone out on a limb to make a difference.
So to you, my reader, I ask you this: Do you love me? And do you love kids like me, who will inherit your world? When you’re choosing which light bulb to buy, or which candidate to elect, do you ever think, “What kind of world do I want to leave for my child?”
People like Loorz have, and will continue to make a large impact on this world. But for our sake, our children’s sake, and our planet’s sake, we long for your help.
Note: Peter Elwood studies music therapy at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and is the Garden State’s most passionate fan of Liverpool FC. We look forward to hearing from him again!