As America and the world watched Donald Trump being inaugurated as the President of the United States, everyone knew this was the sign of things to come. Days after his inauguration, America and the world discussed Trump’s potential impact on many of the problems the country is facing, including the future of America’s efforts on global warming and clean energy.
Few, however, looked the other way where the real change was happening.
Few read about the historic decision by the US District Court judge Ann Aiken. Even fewer understood the potential impact it may have. However, regardless of the lack of public interest it generated, regardless of the lack of media attention it received, regardless of the lack of debate it stimulated, this decision is significant.
In fact, it may prove to be as significant as Trump’s inauguration, if not more so.
To understand why this court decision is so critical to the future of the world’s environmental situation, you need to know the background. The District Court judge Ann Aiken delivered the order in a case filed in the court against some of the major American businesses and traditional energy interest groups, even the American government itself.
It was monumental.
The case in question was filed by a 16-year-old teenager from Colorado, named Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. If you have not heard his name yet, you will hear it now and you will remember it. Who would have thought that a teenager can single-handedly take on American businesses and industries?
But he did.
The Malala of Climate Change
Before Martinez was born, his mother formed an environmental activist group known as Earth Guardians. By the time he was six, he was already delivering soul-stirring speeches against the corporate interests that were preventing any substantial action against climate change. He was leading a movement.
Ten years later, Martinez is among the group of 21 American teens who filed the case in question in October last year. In the case, the teens demanded court action against the US government. Why? It was because they felt the American government was either directly or indirectly involved in activities that lead to climate change and global warming.
This, they pleaded, was an infringement on their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property.
Symbolism and practicality
This is, by no means, the first such gesture that anyone has made against the government and corporate interests. It is, however, extremely significant in that it was not dismissed as a symbolic gesture but was considered to have practical weight and heft.
As soon as the case was launched in the court, American government and corporate sector launched strong objections against it. According to them, this was just a bunch of activists twisting the meaning of the constitutional rights to gain notoriety.
Such complaints have been launched before and such cases have been dismissed before too.
This time around, Judge Ain Aiken made sure that didn’t happen.