Among those who came from around the country to participate in the first-ever March for Science in Washington, D.C., was Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, which has filed a landmark lawsuit on behalf of 21 young people all under the age of 21. The lawsuit argues the government has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. Democracy Now! spoke with Olson and some of her young clients.
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of thousands came out around the world. Thousands came down in the downpour to the National Mall. Among those who came from around the country to participate was Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, which has filed a landmark lawsuit on behalf of 21 young people under the age of 21. The lawsuit alleges the government has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. I spoke to Olson and some of her young clients.
JULIA OLSON: I’m Julia Olson. I’m the executive director of Our Children’s Trust. And I’m a lawyer representing 21 young people who filed a lawsuit against the government. They’re now suing the Trump administration and the whole fossil fuel industry for violating their fundamental constitutional rights to a climate system that will protect them and their future.
AMY GOODMAN: So, but this—I remember, when we broadcast from Stanford University, you were suing the Obama administration.
JULIA OLSON: That’s right. And now we have a new president and a new administration that is denying the facts of climate change. And so, it’s a very interesting situation, where Obama admitted that these kids are facing a crisis, and now we have an administration working hand in hand with the industry to fight them.
AMY GOODMAN: And on what grounds are you suing?
JULIA OLSON: It’s a case under the U.S. Constitution. This is about the Fifth Amendment and these young people’s rights to life, liberty and property. It’s also their right to have their public trust resources, like their atmosphere and their oceans, protected for them and for their kids and grandkids.
AMY GOODMAN: So, why don’t you introduce us to some of the plaintiffs right here?
JULIA OLSON: Sure. I’d love to. So, over here—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re passing a sign that says, "President Trump & Fossil Fuel Industry... #YouthvGov See you in court."
JULIA OLSON: So, this is Hazel. She’s one of our younger plaintiffs. And Hazel’s from Eugene, Oregon.
AMY GOODMAN: Hazel, can you talk about why you’re here today in your T-shirt in the pouring rain?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: Well, I’m from Oregon. And in Oregon, all it does is rain. And it’s extremely important for us young people to stand up to our government, where the adults are doing nothing to prevent climate change and to stop the harmful effects of ocean acidification and sea level rising.
AMY GOODMAN: How old are you?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: I’m 12 years old.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you get involved with this lawsuit?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: Well, I went to a camp with Julia Olson. I met Kelsey Juliana, and I became very inspired by her and many of the other plaintiffs that are now on this case. And I believed in this cause. We have hope, and we have the power to change.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is getting in the way?
HAZEL VAN UMMERSEN: I think our president, currently, who I feel is one of the biggest climate deniers, with a pretty substantial control of power, and he does not believe that science is real. He thinks it’s a hoax made up by the Chinese, but we have science to prove him wrong. We will see him in court, and we will win.
AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the March for Science on Earth Day on Saturday in Washington, D.C. You can watch our entire 5-hour special broadcast at democracynow.org. And you can tune in next Saturday, April 29th, for our special broadcast of the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C.
I want to dedicate today’s show to a beautiful 8-year-old boy named Elijah, Elijah Simpson-Sundell. He loved science. He was an inveterate shutterbug. He loved to take pictures. We recently spent the afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. His dad, Brad Simpson, was a Democracy Now! producer and a historian. His mom, Kristin Sundell, a human rights activist. Elijah lost his brave struggle against cancer, against DIPG, this weekend, but he will forever be remembered.
And that does it for our broadcast. We’re on our 60-city tour. And I’ll be speaking today at Wesleyan College at noon and tonight in Cambridge with Noam Chomsky. On Tuesday, I’ll be at the Harvard Science Center at 11 a.m. and at Yale at 3:30. Mount Holyoke will be next in South Hadley, Massachusetts, at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night. From there, we cover Vermont. We’ll be in Middlebury, Vermont, at noon on Wednesday. At 7 p.m., we’ll be in Montpelier. On Thursday, Bennington, Vermont, at noon, and at Burlington, Vermont, at 7 p.m. You can check all the details. We’ll then head to Washington, D.C., to cover the march, the People’s Climate March. And then we are on from there. Check all details at democracynow.org.