Youth Climate Trial Update 2018.11.25

Youth plaintiffs in the Climate Change lawsuit gather in Eugene Oregon in October.

Youth plaintiffs in the Climate Change lawsuit gather in Eugene Oregon.

article and photos by Lucia Garay , student @ Casa Grande High School, Petaluma, CA. Posted 11.25.2018

On Monday, October 29th, twenty-one youth and the thousands supporting them lined up outside of the federal courthouse to speak, sing, protest, and stand together. The same emotions could be seen on every face: anger, disappointment, sorrow, determination, and hope. They were all there for the same reason, to protest the federal government’s refusal to meet the twenty-one American youth who were trying to sue in court.

Our Children’s Trust, a non-profit organization which, according to their website, “elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

The Trust selected twenty-one youth who had been affected by radical changes to the environment to pursue a class action lawsuit against the federal government for, “through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.” Often called the trial of the century, the lawsuit, named Juliana v. U.S Government after the first plaintiff to file a grievance, has the possibility of being as constitutionally important as Roe v. Wade, Brown v. the Board of Education, or Tinker v. Des Moines.

The youngest plaintiff, Levi D. [last name omitted due to underaged status] of Satellite Beach, Florida, was only seven when he first partook in suing the government in 2015. Now, at eleven years old, Levi’s fellow plaintiffs and the adult counsels of Our Children’s Trust describe his conviction and dedication to the cause as beyond his years.

For three years each of the plaintiffs, who are aged eleven to twenty-two and hail from Alaska to Hawaii, have struggled alongside the adult counsels to bring the lawsuit to the federal courts. The lawsuit was finally scheduled to take place at the Federal Courthouse of Eugene, Oregon on Monday, October 29th. Less than a week before the scheduled opening statement, the Trump administration filed a stay, meaning that after three years of work, the plaintiffs and counsel could not even set foot in the courtroom on the appointed day. Many speculate that the Trump administration intends to postpone the hearing until Justice Brett Kavanaugh is fully confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.

Miko V, one of the plaintiffs, addresses the crowd in Eugene, oregon.

Miko V, one of the plaintiffs, addresses the crowd in Eugene, Oregon.

Despite the disappointing turn of events the plaintiffs and their supporters traveled to Eugene on October the 29th order to show their solidarity and protest the stay. The plaintiffs in addition to Our Children’s Trust were joined by the national environmental activist organization 350.org, several religious congregations including the Santa Rosa Unitarian Universalist Congregation, the students of South Eugene High School, many other similar groups, and a mass of individual supporters. From 8:00 am to noon thousands stood outside the lifeless courthouse in pouring Oregon rain and October chill. Incredibly, the overall atmosphere of the event was one of hope and perseverance. There was music, laughter, boisterous banjo-punk performances by plaintiff Kiran Oommen, poetry reading, heartfelt sermons by a diverse group of religious leaders, and talk of determined action moving ahead, despite what adversity has faced or will face the movement.

“[In order to stay hopeful] I just kind of remember how many people are supporting us and after thinking about that it lifts me up a little bit or a lot,” said plaintiff Avery M., thirteen years old, about keeping hope in the face of adversity. “I feel like that’s probably one of the main ways… remembering how many people are supporting us, because it is hard to keep hope when something like this happens.”

“Just being here and seeing the community come together and being here with the plaintiffs and our friends and knowing that we will get through this [gives me hope]… We will have a trial date and we will see them in court,” said plaintiff Hazel V., fourteen.

“We have supporters from almost every state….My family is a very big reason why I still do this because they’re very supportive,” said plaintiff Jayden F., fifteen. “There have been times, because I live in Louisiana and its very supportive, that sometimes I have thoughts that I should leave [the lawsuit], but my family is very good and supportive and if I ever feel bad, I just go see my elders and talk to my friends.”

The federal government has attempted to postpone or outright deny the lawsuit, first claiming that the various plights of the young plaintiffs brought forward as evidence have no scientific proof of being the result of human misuse of the environment and later arguing that the children do not have the constitutional right to an environment free of climate change. Despite their attempts, the Supreme Court has lifted the stay and will allow the hearing to proceed…for now.

The exact date of the opening statements and beginning of the court case are pending. For now, the counsels prepare themselves to face off against the United States Federal Government in court as the plaintiffs return to their home states, school, college, friends, and the holidays, anxiously awaiting their day in court and a future free from the threat of climate change.

Check the Our Childrens Trust website for status updates of the Trial and to learn more.

Exploring at the Solar Discovery Faire

[July 14, 2018]

Our annual Solar Discovery Faire, held in Glendale, CA, provided an opportunity for students and teachers to share solar energy explorations with the community. The video below highlights the ingredients we had in this version of the Solar Discovery Faire. In this case, it was an independent event, focused on solar energy, supported by Glendale Water & Power. In other situations, the solar experience could be part of a larger event, such as the Heirloom Expo, North Bay Science Discovery Day, an Earth Day event, or a solar industry or Electric Vehicle event. Providing visitors a chance to participate in a hands-on manner, making a kinetic solar device or experimenting with solar fountains, helps demystify solar energy and begin the conversation of thinking how we can adopt solar technology in our own lives. We invite you to create your own Solar Discovery Faire to teach others about Solar Energy.

Join the Drawdown EcoChallenge…Spring into Action with Team Solar Schoolhouse

Greetings!  Happy Vernal Equinox (aka 1st day of Spring).

Late last year we wrote about Drawdown – The Most Comprehensive Plan ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming – highlighting the top 100 solutions to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) and actually reversing global warming.  Then, last month in nearby Healdsburg,  we listened to author Paul Hawken share about how Drawdown came together, enlisting young scientists from around the world, and focusing on solutions.  Very inspiring! SSH-drawdownEcoChallenge2018banner

Now, I’m excited to share about the Drawdown Eco Challenge which runs from April 4-25, 2018.  This is something that you and your students can explore and be part of this next month. It’s also a way to become more familiar with Drawdown and all the different solutions that can help reduce GHGs and together reverse global warming.

I’ve created Team Solar Schoolhouse and encouraging you and your students (friends & family too) to join Team Solar Schoolhouse when you set up a personal profile on the Drawdown EcoChallenge website.  There are a wide variety of challenges to explore and commit to action, from Food, to Transportation, Clean Energy, Women & Girls, Buildings, Materials.  Anyone motivated to Spring into Action can join Team Solar Schoolhouse for the Drawdown EcoChallenge.

Win a cool Tshirt with the “Living the Solar Life” design….

Tshirt design. "Living the Solar Life". Top 5 point-earners on Team Solar Schoolhouse will receive a Tshirt.

“Living the Solar Life”. Top 5 point-earners on Team Solar Schoolhouse will receive a Tshirt with this design.

SSH-drawdownEcoChallenges
Here are some ideas for actions to consider.

1. Ask your School Board to adopt a Climate Resolution.  Here in Sonoma County (CA) ~ 7 school districts have passed resolutions in the past few months, thanks to the encouragement of Schools for Climate Action (SCA).  I’ve helped with one of these campaigns and was amazed at how receptive the school board was. SCA has several templates for resolutions, and recommended steps to take. Several resolutions also include Climate Literacy component, which the Drawdown resource can help fulfill.

2. Conduct a solar project in your classroom. explore different applications that are using solar energy in the world today.  Teach someone else about solar energy.   Example – in Glendale, CA, teachers, students, and myself will host the Solar Discovery Faire on April 14th. sharing solar energy activities with the community, and also solar rooftop options for homes. hosted at a school with it’s own solar array.   This is all about experiencing and then sharing. It can be replicated at any scale.

3. Food waste – is a big source of greenhouse gases.  learn why it’s important to recycle/compost food waste instead of putting it in a landfill. Research composting options with your own local waste company, then share what you find with others.

4. Transportation… is a big source of GHGs.  Explore walk, roll, carpool options for getting to and from school or work.  Learn about Electric Vehicles(EV), host a EV rally to share options with the community.  We just finished a 1500 mi road trip on the west coast in an all-electric vehicle (Bolt) (story to follow).  It worked and we were able to charge up along the way. zero emissions!

There’s lots more you can do…..check out the Challenges on the Drawdown EcoChallenge website, and commit to several actions. You can also read more information at the Solutions Page on Project Drawdown.  Then share with others.

Step ONE is to JOIN Team Solar Schoolhouse at Drawdown EcoChallenge.

Looking forward,

Tor

Tor- Fast charging the Bolt in Redding CA along the west coast electric highway.(March 2018)

 Fast charging the Bolt in Redding CA along the west coast electric highway.(March 2018)

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2018 Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute for Educators …registration open

[2017.12.29] The 5-day Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute for Educators (SIE) for 2018 is scheduled for July 22th-27th, in Sebastopol, California. This is the 16th year we’ve offered this solar energy  professional development experience for educators.  Consistent themes are hands-on, relevant, real-world… and fun!  As you explore Climate Science and it’s effects with your students, it’s important to provide an element of hope… through exploring clean energy options. Increased solar literacy provides students the necessary tools to become active participants as we move toward a clean energy future.
SIE2017 304 Group w.id3

Educators at the 2017 Solar Schoolhouse Summer Institute at Red H Farm with farmer Caiti. Yes, photosynthesis is related to sunshine! and it helps grow food. yum!

Participating Educators learn the fundamentals and history of passive solar design, solar thermal, and solar electricity, then apply these lessons in a variety of projects (simple solar ovens, model solar homes, solar powered fountains, cell phone chargers, LED lights, and more).  Lessons are adapted to your teaching situation and aligned with Common Core & Next Generation Science Standard goals.

Limited scholarships are available. To Learn more and to Register visit http://solarschoolhouse.org/sie2018/

Consider sponsoring an educator in your area to attend. Contact Tor  tor@rahus.org or 707-829-3154 for more information.

Scenes from Solar Schoolhouse

Scenes from Solar Schoolhouse

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