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On Tuesday, 6/17/14 I had lunch with Michael Foster.  He spearheads Plant for the Planet activities in Seattle, Washington.  I wanted to get an update.  I was not disappointed.  His child climate ambassadors for justice are doing fabulous work.  The next day I got this press release.  Let me share it with you in its entirety.  The release makes reference to Zoe.  That's his daughter.  
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Seattle, Washington – Today, eight young citizens of Washington State submitted a petition for rule making to the Department of Ecology. The young people are petitioning Ecology to promulgate a rule that would adopt a science-based carbon dioxide emission reduction trajectory for Washington. Ecology is required to make a greenhouse gas emissions limits recommendation to the Legislature, pursuant to Governor Inslee’s April 29 Executive Order 14-04 and the 2008 Statute Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The rule, if adopted, would put Washington on the emission reduction trajectory needed for global climate stabilization.

Governor Inslee’s recent Executive Order on climate change aims to reduce carbon pollution and support clean energy in Washington. The Governor acknowledged the severity of the impacts of climate change on the state of Washington, highlighting that “[t]hree key areas of risk, specifically changes in the natural timing of water availability, sea level rise and ocean acidity, and increased forest mortality, will likely bring significant consequences for the economy, infrastructure, natural systems, and human health of the region.”

“The current greenhouse gas emission limits required by the legislature in 2008 are insufficient to protect our climate system or our oceans,” said Andrea Rodgers, attorney for the youth petitioners. “Our legislature had the foresight to require Ecology to recommend new emission limits based on the best science of protecting the global climate system, and now Governor Inslee has directed Ecology to make those recommendations next month. Our children want to make sure their government is paying attention to the best available science and setting limits that protect their future, and that’s what this petition asks of Ecology.”

Though the Washington petitioners are young, they already have a strong record of taking action to protect their environment. Zoe Foster, a 12-year-old from Seattle, has spoken to Seattle’s City Council Energy and Environment Committee, at the Governor’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) hearings in Seattle and Olympia, and has met with Legislative staff to discuss climate issues.

Zoe also works to educate her peers by presenting climate change slideshows at school. Two brothers on the petition, Aji (14) and Adonis (9) attend Pathfinder, a school in West Seattle focused on the environment. The boys have presented songs on climate change and oil trains to the Seattle City Council and regularly help educate fellow students about climate change.

“I’m not a lawyer because I’m under 18, but if I don’t have any legal rights that are being violated by the government’s refusal to accept and deal with global warming, then I don’t have enough legal rights!” said 12-year old petitioner Zoe Foster.

The youth’s petition cites the alarming research of one of our nation’s top climate scientists. According to Dr. James Hansen, “the science is crystal clear—we must rapidly reduce fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions if we are to have a chance of protecting Earth’s natural systems for these young people.” Best available climate science finds that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels must be reduced from the current global annual mean concentration of 397 ppm to 350 ppm by 2100 in order to achieve climate stabilization and protect our oceans from catastrophic acidification.

If no action is taken, increased health costs, storm damage, coastal destruction, wildfires, droughts, and rising energy costs are projected to cost Washington $10 billion per year by 2020. Governor Inslee is taking a strong stance that “Washington needs to take additional actions now” to address climate change. Youth petitioners agree, and are urging Ecology to recommend a more aggressive emission reduction framework to the Governor, the Governor’s Carbon Emission Reduction Taskforce, and the legislature when they deliver their July 15th report (as required by Executive Order 14-04).

The youth’s petition says that by putting Washington on a carbon dioxide emission reduction trajectory back to 350 ppm, Ecology would fulfill its constitutional and statutory obligations to protect the state’s natural resources and citizens from the harmful effects of climate change and ocean acidification. Indeed, the youth suggest that Ecology must take these steps to protect their rights. The added benefit, they say, is that in addition to preventing further climate change and ocean acidification, the proposed rule would help achieve the Governor’s mandate “to capture the job growth opportunities of a clean energy economy, and to meet our obligation to our children and future generations.”

The young people’s petition for rule making was filed with the help of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon- based nonprofit orchestrating a global game-changing, youth driven legal campaign to establish the right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. The legal effort advances the fundamental duty of government today: to address the climate crisis based on scientific baselines and benchmarks, and to do so within time frames determined by scientific analysis, to protect our children.

Our Children's Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a "public trust" resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm.

Please go below the orange hairpiece for more information on Plant for the Planet and their climate change academies.  

In Michael Foster's own words:

“Child Ambassadors hold absolute moral authority because when we grownups are gone, they’ll still be here. These children can change the conversation on climate from ‘whether it is happening’ to ‘What are you doing to protect my future? What are you doing today to stop global warming?’”

“I want every kid in the USA to have a chance to experience an Academy, to learn to speak out for the future they will inherit, while it’s still possible to make a huge difference.”

“Today I need volunteers all across the country. What does it take to host an Academy for 80 students? People. Parents, retired teachers, college students, anybody can organize a day-long workshop for local kids in every town all over the USA. Let’s get a competition going to plant more trees.”

“We need our kids to tell us, ‘Stop wrecking my planet, right now!’ I know parents will listen when their kids say, “We shouldn’t buy that big SUV. I don’t think the earth can afford it. Maybe we should plant a thousand trees instead.”

“Parents know we have to change our ways but we don’t want to short-change our children now, so we try not to think about it. But we’re failing our children if we don’t think ahead for them.”
Foster uses the Photo Album test,
“Imagine, looking back through a photo album in 20 years. The very things parents do today to privilege our children — pay for big vacations, big toys, a bigger house — these are the very things that our children are going to look back on in horror a few years from now and say to us, ‘how could you do that, when you knew that Life was at stake?’”
The program has all the elements to be successful and spread quickly.  Here's why:

1.  It involves those most affected by climate change - young people.  It provides them with the knowledge and leadership skills necessary to carry the message to their peers,  parents, teachers, politicians and community business leaders.

2.  Peers listen to other peers.  It's the power of peer pressure put to work.

3.  It involves parents with their kids future and educational development.  It motivates them to get involved in climate change action as a result of that involvement.  It is hard to ignore your children.

4.  It involves teachers always looking for creative and innovative opportunities to engage their students in order to teach them valuable skills such as leadership and public speaking.

5.  It involves politicians.  It is hard to ignore a young person knocking on your door or asking you a question if you are a public figure. They know if they do their parents, whom they need to vote for them, will not forget.

Participants learning about properly planting a tree.

6.  It involves community business leaders always looking for good PR opportunities in order to portray  a caring partner image to their community of customers.  

7.  It attracts the press.  Young people doing amazing things always attracts the cameras.

8.  And finally, and most importantly, it gives all involved a tangible, realistic way to get involved and move forward with a feeling of hope and empowerment.

To begin the process of organizing your own Academy the best place to start is at the Plant for the Planet website.  Here are some key places to visit.  

1.  Suggested flyer and schedule for Academy (template).

2.  Pictures to choose from for slideshow presentation (power point) (takes some time to load but worth the wait). These pictures are used as visual aides to assist students oral presentations.

3.  Ideas and detailed information on how to get the ball rolling in your community.

Other resources:

1.  Announcement used for Seattle Academies

2.  Seattle Plant for the Planet press kit

3. Seattle Plant for the Planet flyer

This is a YES WE CAN program bubbling with the optimism that only youth can bring to the table.  We need that energy in the environmental movement.  It's time to Stop Talking and Start Planting.  It's time we join and assist in any way we can these young Ambassadors for Climate Justice.  

Michael Foster: A mental health therapist and father in Seattle, Mike always had an interest in the impacts humans have on the health and welfare of our planet. From his childhood in Texas, where he grew up in the shadow of oil refineries, he has always been aware that we have the ability and the obligation to be positive stewards for the Earth – not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

Mike is a speaker for the Climate Reality project, the Al Gore initiative, and volunteers his time to present “The Slide Show” to any and all interested groups. His particular focus is exploring the ways that families can work together to reverse global warming and create a sustainable future.

As coincidence would have it Al Gore just posted an amazing article in Rolling Stone pointing out the hope and optimism he sees in our future:  The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate.  A must read!

Michael Foster is ready to help anybody interested in organizing and conducting their own Academy.  

website:  Climate Change for Families


If nothing else send him an e-mail congratulating him and his young ambassadors for the excellent work they're doing on behalf of all of us.  Everyone deserves a pat on the back for a job well done.  Thanks!

Originally posted to Seattle & Puget Sound Kos on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 03:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, DK GreenRoots, Climate Hawks, Koscadia, PacNW Kossacks, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Most children don't need an orange hair piece (10+ / 0-)

    but they do need a livable climate.

    I especially appreciated this:

    “Child Ambassadors hold absolute moral authority because when we grownups are gone, they’ll still be here. These children can change the conversation on climate from ‘whether it is happening’ to ‘What are you doing to protect my future? What are you doing today to stop global warming?’”
    Thanks for direction to the positive actions that we all can take.
  •  I guess one question might be raised (10+ / 0-)

    Why do right-wing politicians care about the limited years of two senior citizens known as "Koch brothers" above the wide-ranging futures of 1 billion kids in this world?

    It seems a bygone conclusion that that selfish adults are probably going to be bad parents.  And, while it might take a village, the effects of major industries have turned the village into a shared, worsening environment.

    I like the idea of peer pressure for easy, green efforts.  Change culture perceptions and instill new habits, eventually new values.  Take all power away from the wealthiest degenerates - i.e., people epitomized by the symbolism and actions of the Koch brothers - by revealing that electing the worst elements of our society to office is what hurts our own children.  We need to be better parents, as a whole. IMHO.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:35:12 PM PDT

    •  My wife and I decided 38 years ago to not (7+ / 0-)

      have our own children.  At the time  the decision was not made specifically because of climate change but for other reasons.  Therefore, I'm not really qualified to make comment about being better parents.  

      But I will put forth the argument that our modern lifestyle conspires to pull parents away from spending quality time with their children.  This program offers a way for that to change and for them to do it in a meaningful way.  

      Not being a father, I can't fully appreciate it.  But I can't imagine being a parent of a child these days and NOT caring about the future of the climate in terms of their children's lives.  Having spent a lot of time researching the future in this regard I guess I've got an above average knowledge of the implications of climate change disruption.  

      But I'm also sure there is no stronger love than that of a parent for their children.  I just think they don't know because they are too busy!  

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:06:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I look at my kids most days with an undercurrent (8+ / 0-)

        of despair for what's around them.  Fortunately, it's not immediate war or other ongoing threats, or lingering disease, etc.

        There's lots of worries which hit me as a parent and so much more I just enjoy about the challenges in helping and watching them grow.  But, the environment that our richest people and their cronies in governments are leaving my and - all other - kids is an example of the poorest kind of parenting, IMHO: there is no consideration of what happens to societies in future years, anymore. No education on best values to be good stewards for others and our habitat.

        Too much information is available to say that they worst polluters and their enablers know otherwise.  No empathy or considerations are being shown at all for future generations - here or abroad.  These relatively few people work hard so that predominately older people with lots of money can . . .  make extra money for nothing more than another artificial "win" or form of conquest (i.e., deal), I feel.

        It's similar to when we grew up under Reagan and worried about nuclear war with the USSR.  That sword was always swinging over our heads, it seemed.

        Now, the sword is in the form of smog, contaminated drinking water and is all-encompassing.  We can't avoid the planet.  The feeling of impending nuclear threat was reduced soon enough after Reagan's departure, but this environmental disaster is slow, long and painful to watch.  It's inexorable.  There was less money in keeping nuclear weapons on the ready in the public eye than there happens to be for keeping polluting industries out of the picture.  Far less.  So, money stays the center of our problem.

        Which gets me back to selfish parenting . . . of the planet and of our future generations.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:37:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  wader - why? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, John Crapper, Penny GC

      Kids don't have any cash for campaigns or independent expenditures.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 08:05:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  cool project! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, John Crapper, Penny GC

    Thanks for sharing that.

    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:35:10 AM PDT

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