I manage our U.S. partnerships at WITNESS. This year I’ve had an important opportunity to combine my passions for human rights and the environment while working to produce films with youth across the country and support an unprecedented legal effort. Through our partnership with the iMatter Campaign, I’ve traversed the country meeting and working with youth that have already been affected by climate change and are standing up to ask the ruling generation for change.

One of the inspirational young people I’ve had a chance to work with through this partnership is Alec Loorz. Alec’s life was forever changed when, as a 12-year-old, his mother rented “An Inconvenient Truth”. Watching this film set Alec on a course of action that he had not expected.

Alec is now 17-years-old and one of our country’s most passionate and informed climate activists. He is also a named plaintiff in the federal lawsuit being brought against the U.S. government. Alec along with youth across the country are raising their voices to make a simple request. They are asking our courts to recognize that the atmosphere is a resource we all share in common. Many of our basic human rights – the right to clean water, safe food, adequate housing, health, ecologically sustainable development, the benefits of scientific progress, full and equal participation for all persons in environmental decision-making, and inter-generational equity – all depend on a healthy atmosphere. The youth are asking that the court compel our government to protect the atmosphere, in trust, for the common benefit of everyone, including future generations.

Today in an unprecedented legal filing, seven of the youth plaintiffs called upon the Northern California District Court to to compel the U.S. government to prevent an increase in CO2 levels and to require the government to create and implement a viable Climate Recovery Plan. The following video, in which Alec introduces himself and his fears about the effect climate change will have on his future, was submitted to the the court with this request made through what is called a Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

At WITNESS, we believe that seeing and hearing from those most affected by human rights issues is a powerful tool in the fight for justice. Nothing is more powerful than hearing Alec describe his concern over the current state of his environment and his future. But Alec is only one of many youth voices that must be heard. In the coming months, other youth plaintiffs from states like Alaska, Arizona, Iowa and Montana will be telling their stories via video.

These stories will be used both to empower the young members of the iMatter Campaign to collect and send their own stories to President Obama and other leaders, organize marches, collect signatures for petitions, and using every constitutional privilege available to them to ensure that they inherit a safe and livable planet. They will also be submitted to our courts through the legal and administrative proceedings.

Support our youth by visiting the iMatter Campaign’s website.

If you have children, grandchildren, or may have children one day – this is a human rights issue too big to ignore. Please watch Alec’s video, share it widely, and sign the petition!

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