Why do we do what we do?
I've always considered the focus of my own work to be to prepare a better world for my children and grandchildren. To me, that's kind of a no-brainer. Accordingly, I've prioritized such things as social justice, equality for all, rational gun control, and a mature & responsible approach to climate change to be the most important works I could be accomplishing.
I admit to feeling a sense of failure.
I'm in the portion of the U.S. population that feels that the recent presidential election is a disaster for our future. It appears, to me at least, that with one sweep we've thrown out decades of work on women's rights, LGBT rights, immigration reform, environmental protection, and climate change planning & response.
Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. I'd love to be proven wrong.
So let's look to the children for guidance
One of the interesting bylines of news articles that came out in the last year or so is this lawsuit filed against the Obama administration for failing to protect the next generation from climate change. In a recent ruling, the court allowed the lawsuit to proceed on the basis that failing to address climate change is a violation of the next generation's constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by causing direct harm to survivability and destruction of public trust assets such as coastlines and national forests.
That's brilliant, really.
For every three experts the defendants could bring to say climate change isn't happening or isn't so bad, the plaintiffs can bring 97 who say that it is. The damage is measurable--heat waves, droughts, sea level rise, disease propagation--have all been tied irrevocably to climate change. This is factual evidence that cannot be refuted by political philosophy.
Go, kids, go!!
So if there is any glimmer of hope with respect to how to protect our Spaceship Earth for future generations, this may well be it. And this may well be a test lawsuit--a first of many.
Imagine if our children sued the federal government for:
- Not providing adequate access to basic and higher education because of interference by political and philosophical actors who don't believe in the sanctity and value of education.
- Failing to protect the children of our society by not enacting reasonable gun control. Or safe drinking water. Or ...
... and the list goes on.
The point is that children have a special protected status in our society because we're obligated to provide them the highest quality of life possible. That's just the moral and ethical thing to do. And we've largely failed--children's rights to a better future wasn't even a topic of discussion in the recent election, at least as far as I could tell.
So I salute our children. I encourage our children to continue to go to court to protect their rights and their futures with regard to all these issues and more to the best of their abilities. We've largely failed to do what they expect of us--so let's turn over the baton and wish them well.
December 2 update: This is not going away.