Can You Guess What the Largest Lawsuit in History Is Suing the Government For?

Arista Burwell-Chen

Aljazeera America recently published an article titled, “Youths Sue U.S. Government Over Climate Inaction.” Five teenagers and two nonprofits—WildEarthGuardians and Kids vs. Global Warming—are behind the lawsuit. The complaint against six federal departments—the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Defense—states that, “The welfare of youth is directly affected by the failure of government to confront human-made climate change, and unless the government acts immediately to rapidly reduce carbon emissions … youth will face irrevocable harm: the collapse of natural resource systems and a largely uninhabitable nation.”

Supported by some of the world’s leading scientists and constitutional professors, plaintiffs argue that the failure of the government to develop a plan to battle climate change is a violation of the youths’ constitutional rights, as the government has a responsibility to future generations to protect resources they will need according to the public trust doctrine.

13-year-old plaintiff Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez says, “We want the government to reduce carbon emissions nationally by 6 percent every year until we get down to 350 parts per million.” These statistics were provided by retired NASA scientist James Hansen, with the support of the United Nation’s leading climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri and environmentalist Bill McKibben. The plaintiffs and scientists are not the only ones who see the need for immediate action. Former U.S. military officials also released a report that labeled climate change as one of the biggest threats to national security.

But despite this overwhelming evidence, legislature still has not changed. Mary Wood, Natural Resources and Law professor at the University of Oregon, believes it is largely due to corporate interference in government proceedings. She says, “The fossil fuel industry has a vice grip on two branches of government through campaign financing. Two branches won’t act because it’s politically not in their interests, and that is why the judiciary must intervene.”

Sounds like another result of dependency corruption if you ask me.

Read the full article here.


  1. ccceprosperity

    I think it will be interesting to compare this strategy (going through the courts) and the strategy of people like Lessig (trying to work through Congress)–which one seems like it has more potential to be successful?

    Kaleigh B

  2. tesschilton

    I agree with Kaleigh, that Lessigs strategy of trying to work through congress seems like it would have more potential to be successful. Yet, it seems like the cycle is so hard to break that it sometimes seems impossible. I think its amazing that this was a lawsuit that thirteen year olds have created. It gives me hope that future generations will demand change.

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