Washington Court Recognizes Constitutional and Public Trust Duty to Protect the Atmosphere for Present and Future Generations

Attorney Andrea Rodgers, right, with some of the plaintiffs in a climate lawsuit before a meeting earlier this year with Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo Credit: Our Children’s Trust

From Our Children’s Trust on 11/20/2015:

Late last night, eight Washington youth received a groundbreaking ruling from Judge Hollis Hill in their climate change lawsuit. In this landmark decision, Judge Hill declared “[the youths’] survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming…before doing so becomes first too costly and then too late.

The court confirmed what the Washington petitioners and other young people we work with across the nation have been arguing in the courts, that “[t]he state has a constitutional obligation to protect the public’s interest in natural resources held in trust for the common benefit of the people.”

Gabriel Mandell, a 13-year-old Washington petitioner reacts to Judge Hills decision:

“It’s incredible to have the court finally say that we do have a right to healthy atmosphere and that our government can’t allow it to be harmed. This ruling means that what the Department of Ecology does going forward in its rulemaking has to protect us, the kids of Washington, and not just us, but future generations too, like my children and those to come. Now they can’t decide to protect short-term economic fears and ignore us because we have constitutional and public trust rights to a stable climate!”

The court also validated the youths’ claims that the “scientific evidence is clear that the current rates of reduction mandated by Washington law. . . cannot ensure the survival of an environment in which [youth] can grow to adulthood safely.” The judge determined that the State has a “mandatory duty” to “preserve, protect, and enhance the air quality for the current and future generations,” and found the state’s current standards to fail that standard dramatically for several reasons.

This Washington decision establishing constitutional public trust protections for the atmosphere, together with the decision earlier this year doing the same in New Mexico, evidences a wake-up by the judiciary that our collective right to a habitable future is at stake and must be protected by the courts before it is too late.

Read our full press release.
Thank you for your continued support and for enabling us to secure this important decision and more to come!

Help get 2 USA Ambassadors to the Plant For The Planet international conference in Germany!

Climate Change For Families (Plant-for-the-Planet in Seattle, USA), a 501(c)(3) organization, needs your financial help to defer the $4,000 cost of the airplane tickets for Climate Justice Ambassadors 14-year old Aji & 14-year old Wren, along with their adult advisor Michael Foster, for their upcoming trip to Germany to participate in the May 17 to 25th International P4tP conference to finalize the Youth Climate Plan prior to the Paris December 2015 G7 summit. Yes, it is unusual for P4tP Seattle to take such a trip. But we’re now in “crunch time” to save Mother Earth, and it is extremely important that these Climate Justice Ambassadors attend and have input towards shaping/controlling their future. They are the only 2 Ambassadors representing North America at this conference. As Michael Foster says: “We’re only doing this to save the world!” Thank you for your generosity.
Climate Change For Families is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our tax ID number: 46-5636361
Donate now at http://bit.ly/1F8V2q8!

Silence Into Action

After 45 days, Itzcuauhtli completed his silent strike with 1.5 million people joining his Thunderclap. If you ever needed a reason to smile about climate disruption, listen to his first message after ending a courageous silence.

What does he mean, YOU are the world leaders? Hear more at SilenceIntoAction.org and become a leader.

This week NY Governor Cuomo banned fracking, President Obama protected Bristol Bay, Alaska from oil and gas, and WA Governor Inslee announced his Carbon plan. Let’s celebrate these HUGE BABY STEPS forward ending the fossil era!

Picture a kid shouldering a fully-loaded backpack before starting up Mt Rainier. That’s us! Balancing that load for the first stand-up moment feels triumphant! It’s the beginning… snap a photo, grab a map, and start climbing that mountain!

Meanwhile climate talks in Peru left the world’s nations in disarray with no hope for a meaningful agreement at the critical PARIS 2015 talks next year. How did world leaders say so much yet do nothing? Here’s an example:

John Kerry at the U.N. climate talks gives his best speech. He cites the world’s best scientists in a call for dramatic personal, social, and political action. he leans way too hard on impoverished, developing nations in a world of killer poverty, to pick up the bill for some of the U.S. pollution we grew wealthy spewing into our air. Nonetheless, he shoulders his responsibility as a statesman-scientist admirably right up until he declares, “We are proud of these [U.S. pollution] targets!”

In a sign of how harmful international talks have become, the climate champion of the last 25 years ignores timetables (from the very scientists he names) on how quickly we must act and asks, “Are we going to do it fast enough?”

According to scientists Kerry names in his speech, U.S. pollution ‘goals’ not only put our own children on course for exceeding 2C warming to disrupt ecosystems enough to unmake Western civilization, but our ‘goals’ also irreversibly eliminate more than half of species on earth, change the face of the planet and disrupt land & marine ecosystems going forward millions of years. Billions of people will suffer needlessly for centuries to come.

Does that sound like something to be proud of? Instead of aiming for climate recovery, the U.S. Secretary of State hikes down the wrong trail with an old map. In his view, if we refuse to get serious, we strand our kids and everybody else halfway up the mountain with zero chance to get back home. Why not check the map?

Money & power. The world’s poor don’t have any. Future generations don’t have any. It’s up to world leaders like you and me to give them the power to live in peace. Because worldwide, yes BlackLivesMatter.

If politics is the art of the Possible, climate recovery is the art of the Necessary, where Science maps our terrain, not politicians. What can you do?

Learn climate recovery science. Then school our climate champions on how urgent this has become for young people. Reduce your footprint, and help your loved ones do the same.

Read James Hansen’s timetable for climate recovery, the one paper every person needs to understand, submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of youth, (including Itzcuauhtli’s brother) who are suing the government for a habitable planet, details a map back to safety that looks something like this,

  • 6% per year decrease in Greenhouse Gas pollution, beginning in 2013 (oops!)
  • coupled with 100GtCarbon CO2 worth of reforestation (or more than 1,000 billion trees)
  • might restore the climate to 350ppm CO2 in the atmosphere near 2100.

In other words, only drastic, liberating action immediately for the next few years keeps our kids chance alive for a climate that protects young people, future generations, and nature.

Half of CO2 we emit today lingers in the air for 25 years, the rest for centuries. Without decisive action starting now, before 2020, we mathematically surrender more and more life centuries from now. Today we hold the right to protect them, the future generations we hear about in every speech on climate. Yet every year we have surrendered more of that right, and have given up on more species. No more.

Who do you choose to lead us? John Kerry a true climate champion, or the people and a boy who is willing to give up something we think we can’t live without “for everybody else’s future”. Go to ClimateSilenceNow.org to take action.

Go to Plant-for-the-Planet.org to plant some TREES! If 1,000 billion trees tips the equation in our favor, when you plant for the planet, and you plant for our survival.

Restoring climate balance now is the Wonderland journey of this decade. We take steps together both hard and joyful, beautiful and unbearable. But let’s never forget where we’re headed, a peaceful world for the next seven generations free and equal, just and lush, prosperous and caring, rising up from the killer consumer culture we leave behind.

Want a little music for your journey? https://vimeo.com/69227576

Dec 10th Climate Silence Now, by Wren

Itzcuauhtli is an 11 year old climate activist.  His older brother Xiuthezcatl helped start the Earth Guardians program in Colorado. The boys have been speaking, rapping and spreading the word about climate change to every child and adult they can, like they do in HBO’s “Saving My Tomorrow”. They marched in the front row of the People’s Climate March in NYC.

But Itzcuauhtli realized that speaking wasn’t going to cut it.

He made the decision to take a vow of silence until the politicians and leaders of our planet started to take notice and help us on our mission of reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.  Itzcuauhtli has been completely silent for 45 days.

On Saturday December 6, 2014, Climate Justice Ambassadors from Plant for the Planet in Seattle stood in support of Itzcuauhtli.  We went silent for 1 hour and held a silent protest downtown with a large sign bearing the message, “Stop Talking, Start Planting” and green tape over our mouths.  We also had a donation bag to collect donations from the public, each dollar donated planted one tree. In one hour we collected $29 total! plus we shared brochures and raised awareness for trees and climate action.


If you want to help Itzcuauhtli’s cause, please wear a green bracelet on Wednesday December 10th, Human Rights Day, and post your picture online to show your support.  To do our part we will continue to share these protests in the future!

Thank you,


ed. –United Nations climate talks in Peru December 1 – 12 must take a major step forward as delegates lay groundwork for an entirely new climate treaty in Paris 2015. Forests and Climate Justice have been a BIG DEAL so far this year. Itzcuauhtli has kept silent, looking for leaders like you and me to show officials how to lead.

Learn HERE how you can help on December 10th, Human Rights Day, wherever you are on Earth.

Meeting A Hero, by Abby

By: Abby

December 4, 2014

When I first stepped into The Westin I thought, “How lucky I am to be with two of the world’s most influential people.  I can’t wait to meet them.”

Today I had the most wonderful privilege to introduce Governor Inslee at a luncheon honouring him and Vice President Al Gore.  Many politicians champion the role of young people in their campaigns. But while a one-click tweet or petition signature is an easy sell, putting youth opinions and ideas at the heart of campaigning is harder (and braver).

That’s why it was so pleasing to see Governor Inslee putting actions to his words.  He gave me the opportunity to share a little bit of my passion about saving our planet for future generations to many people.  He gave me a chance to show case Plant for the Planet and hopefully this great opportunity will show other kids that they have a voice and they don’t have to sit around watching our planet be destroyed.  Kids and adults can know that it is never too late or too early to make a difference.  I hope I made an impact on somebody or even planted (no pun intended) an interest in somebody to stop being a bystander and start being an active citizen.

I have learned in the past and read about Governor Inslee’s actions in fighting our ever growing Carbon Footprint and knew that he was not a bystander but I today I truly witnessed his passion and his kindness.  He truly is my hero and I hope to join forces with him in the future.  But as for the present I am going to wage war on climate injustice and plant some trees.

Watch video of Abby’s introduction speech from the Governor’s point of view.   (Thank you Jill for crouching on the floor between VP Al Gore and Governor Inslee to capture this angle on video. You are intrepid!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwrXyF7_J-w&feature=youtu.be

Vice President Al Gore and Governor Jay Inslee Speech By: Abby

I am here to tell you today that every person can make a difference.  It does not matter how old or how young you are.  I don’t want to grow up being a bystander and neither should you.  In fact, it does not matter if you are grown up already it is never too late to begin to make a difference.

Let me share with you what I am doing.  I am on a mission with my fellow ambassadors to plant 1,000 billion trees by 2024.  Why?  Our carbon footprint is getting bigger and bigger.  We need to reduce this footprint if we want to sustain life as we know it here on Earth.  And you know what?  I love our Earth and I want my future generations to love it too!

But 1,000 billion trees sounds like a lot.  I broke it down and figured that if every person in Seattle should plant 150 trees…..a much more reasonable number.  But as a kid how was I suppose to plant 150 trees with no job, no money of my own and well in Seattle not a big yard to do it in.  So I thought I could make a lemonade stand.  I offered free lemonade for a $1 donation to go towards planting one tree.  I made $64 dollars this past summer to plant 64 trees worldwide.  And I personally planted 16 trees locally.  Now I still have a ways to go but I am an active citizen not a bystander.

I have to be active because our changing climate and the impact it will have on me and my friends is big.  Really big.  So big I have found that some adults have just given up.

We need adults who refuse to be bystanders.  We need leaders like Governor Inslee who know it matters what kind of environment and climate we leave to our children.  Governor Inslee understands that the time to at is now, not tomorrow or at some point down the road.

My future depends on it.  Please welcome Governor Inslee.

ed. –Governor Inslee, VP Al Gore, and Martha Kongsgaard each referred to Abby in varied ways as the kind of person who embodies what we can do, and must do, if we are to respond immediately to the climate crisis with a “can-do” spirit.

VP Al Gore video clip from the luncheon, on Abby and the moonshot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW70oPOxnl8&feature=youtu.be

Radio: NPR “On Point” plays Ambassador speeches, Guest Jared Diamond

Ambassadors steal the show, “Jared Diamond Speaks to the Young on Environmental Challenges” the APRIL 4, 2014 episode of NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook.

Listen here:

OK, so the Ambassadors are not the guests; but they are briefly featured voices of a generation, and Jared Diamond is good company! The celebrated author of Guns, Germs, and SteelThe World Until Yesterday and Collapse talks about a new adaptation of an old favorite, The Third Chimpanzee, now retitled:

The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond

Audio clips of Ambassadors Zoe and Isaac figure prominently in the discussion. The lively broadcast explores how humans, and in particular young people growing up with a dangerous changing climate, might respond to our greatest challenge.

History professor and bestselling author Diamond begins this interview, “the current generation is the first generation that faces the risk of the whole world being messed up.” As a parent, the author had to answer to his own children when their school assigned one of his books for class. He says historically young people have regularly faced overwhelming threats to civilization; but children now grow up worrying about the end of all civilizations.

After playing clips from Ambassadors’ speeches, Jared Diamond suggests that young people who understand what is happening to their future can have a powerful influence on how families respond.

The Ambassador audio clips come from Zoe’s speech before the Governor’s Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup in Seattle and Isaac’s speech to the Power Past Coal Rally in downtown Portland.

Be forewarned: after hearing Jared Diamond, you might have to break down and buy the book. It sounds perfect for families who face this crisis together. Although you’ll find no simple answers and only a 50-50 wager on how humans will turn out, Diamond sounds genuinely hopeful for a History professor who has devoted his life to studying the end.

James Hansen Admires Ambassador Action

Ambassadors visit Sen Patty Murray

Ambassadors from Plant-For-The-Planet shared their plan to end the climate crisis with U.S. Senate staffers last week in downtown Seattle. They made very specific requests for the Senators to consider new language when they discuss climate change, drawing on Dr. James Hansen’s research into how humans might make the world cooler near 2100, but only if we act now.

One week later the preeminent climate scientist and former head of NASA climate research blogged about their brave efforts: You can read Dr. Hansen’s admiring words here: “Children and Adults on Climate Policy: Evidence that They ‘Get It'”


From his blog: “The bravery and insight of people in Washington and Oregon, as they oppose fossil fuel interests that threaten the future of young people, is exceptional and encouraging.”

The Ambassadors draw such inspiration from Dr. Hansen’s important research on behalf of “Young People, Future Generations, and Nature”; and yet in this blog the roles reversed. Clearly James Hansen draws his inspiration from the next generation, the grandchildren he strives to protect. Now his life’s work and climate science messages are starting to reach young people who “Get It”.

You can talk to your Senators, like the Ambassadors. Tell your congressperson to

  • Stop saying the words “2°C Goal” or “Target” in speeches.
  • Start telling Senators there is a real plan to keep global warming close to 1.2°C and to protect children
  • Write laws to reduce carbon pollution 6% per year and plant our share of 1,000 billion trees
  • Put a price on carbon pollution
  • Pledge “No New Carbon Pollution” to oppose dirty energy infrastructure, exploration, and exports
  • You need them to take bold action now on climate in order to protect children in the future.

As the founder of Plant-For-The-Planet, Felix Finkbeiner, says: “For us children, whether the sea level will rise 1 meter or 6 meters is not an academic question, it’s a question of survival.”

Your Senators should know that from now on you depend on them to act courageously; we all do.

Let’s act courageously.

Students On Track to Stop Global Warming

If you want to make a difference in the struggle to stop global warming, to what extraordinary lengths would you go? How about 7 days roundtrip on a train?

Beginning Thursday afternoon, March 26th, Port Townsend High School Students For Sustainability will ride the rails to Washington D.C. to lobby for climate action now! At each train stop along the way, they will accept petitions from local students to deliver to leaders in the nation’s capital. Print out one of these petitions or write your own. Grab your friends and tell them all to sign on! 

SFS Students

“Students for Sustainability” a self-organizing student conservation group in Port Townsend, WA has earned awards for their effective efforts on campus and around the community in the last two years including recognition from the EPA. They also helped plant 3,500 trees.

Now the team will travel by mass transit all the way to Washington, D.C. To pay for this trip they raised thousands of dollars, so that student voices can make climate a priority in the ‘other’ Washington.

The students designed 2 simple petitions for you to print out, one petition for President Obama and one for Congress. You can gathering signatures from family and friends this week.

Speak out on the climate issues you care about most, whether that’s pollution, clean air and water, renewable energy, new transportation, forestry and reforestation, ending coal exports; you name it literally, on your petition! The Students For Sustainability will carry your voice to Washington D.C.

SFS students ride the Empire Builder from Seattle, Thursday March 27th, departing 4:40pm. If you can’t celebrate the start of their 3.5 day railroad journey in person with us, you can still scan your petition and email it to me beforehand. We’ll print it for you and take it down to King Street Station. You can also sign the ONLINE petition at change.org. 

SFSAcross the country students can Contact the SFS team before they reach your town to arrange for petition pickup at any train stops for the Empire Builder and Capitol Limited.

Like them on facebook,  donate money to help them pay for the trip, support these ambitious, courageous students and add your voices to the chorus calling for climate justice now!

VIDEO: Children Rally Against Coal Exports in Portland

This is beautiful.

Governor Kitzhaber, listen to the voices of justice. With nothing to gain and everything to lose from coal export, our children ask only for a future and a clean Columbia River Gorge. Stop coal export and start a trend. Governor, you have an easy choice to make.

Congratulations to all the wonderful families in Portland who came out to make this rally special. Our kids will remember this for a lifetime. Thank you Columbia Riverkeeper and Power Past Coal!

Ambassadors Help Keep Oil Trains Out of Seattle – VIDEOS

Aji and Adonis, 2 talented brothers, made TV News and the Seattle paper when they performed “Exploding Trains” outside City Hall. The music sounds like the lullaby “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” on ukelele, juxtaposed with painful lyrics that shock and ignite listeners to stop the trains. “Think about the future generations… What to them do you give?”

The 2 brothers serve in our community as Ambassadors for Climate Justice in the children’s organization Plant-For-The-Planet, a worldwide initiative empowering children to end the climate crisis now. Older brother Aji was learning ukelele when he learned about the exploding trains and decided to write the song to bring attention to the dangers of oil trains and burning fossil fuels.

Immediately after the powerful rally on the steps of City Hall, Aji and Adonis performed again inside Council Chambers for a committee hearing to decide on the language of a Resolution against the dangerous trains passing through Seattle. Every week more trains roll past two stadiums and tunnel under a mile of downtown Seattle and Pike Place Market where an explosion would be catastrophic. Seattle City Council sees unacceptable risk to our densely-populated urban neighborhoods.

Last month Ambassador Stella spoke out at another rally against the trains. She evoked Martin Luther King Jr. as she called for climate justice and sharing a vision of her future where everyone gets what they need and “no one poisons anyone else with fossil fuels regardless of whether they live over or under the poverty line.”


Oil-by-Rail shipments have “exploded” recently, up 40-fold over just a few years ago. Every month North Dakota Bakken crude oil uses more railroads to get to market. Fracking the oil to get it out of the ground puts dangerous secret volatile chemicals in the oil which make it much more explosive and deadly. But the old rail cars are not safe enough to transport this oil which ignites at a temperature of 73 degrees. Several accidents in the last few months resulted in huge fireballs burning for hours or days, and several deaths. The National Transportation Safety Board released a blunt warning to keep the trains away from “metropolitan areas” to prevent loss of life.The warning stopped just short of banning the trains altogether.

Cities along the railroad lines are now speaking up for public safety. Simultaneously the oil shipments have grown from less than 10,000 rail cars a few years ago to over 400,000 rail cars, increasing the chances of an accident and snarling rail service around the country. Oil refineries on Washington’s coast want permits to handle more of the explosive oil. In my view, this means we can pollute the planet faster, or as the industry hopes to grow we can start exporting fracked oil to make America more energy independent. (Not sure how exporting oil make us more energy independent).

Bakken crude oil, unsafe when you frack, move in pipelines or rail lines, refine, or ship. But guaranteed “unsafest” of all for our children when you safely ignite in your internal combustion engine. depending on whether you value life and nature above dirty energy and wealth.

“Leave fossil fuels in the Ground!”

Plant-For-The-Planet ambassadors share their 3-Point Plan for ending the climate crisis, the hardest part being “Leave fossil fuels in the Ground!” We all need to speak out to stop these trains to keep our children and the future safe. We all need to travel less and burn less fossil fuels.

Let’s thank the Seattle City Councilmembers who unanimously passed a very strong resolution asking Governor Inslee to place a moratorium on oil trains coming through Seattle. The trains are dangerous according to the NTSB. Increasing oil trains from 3 a week to 3 per day in Seattle will accelerate global warming and the chances of a major accident. Companies shipping oil-by-rail know the risks, but have a product to move. Cities take the risks, bear the responsibility to public safety, and oppose the trains. Let the Governor know that you support protecting our cities and our children.

Our children need all of us to help stop more trains from bringing fracked oil to market. Only people like you and me can help our children bring their vision of a safe, livable planet into reality. Take action now.