‘We are showing the world that we care’: Local youths take stand for a safe and stable climate

Students from HRVHS’ Earth Action Club conducted a mock-trial Sunday to support the Juliana v. U.S. climate lawsuit.

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Students from HRVHS’ Earth Action Club conducted a mock-trial Sunday to support the Juliana v. U.S. climate lawsuit.

On Sunday afternoon, students from Hood River Valley High School Earth Action Club went to “court” to speak out, demanding that the U.S. Government take action to reduce carbon emissions and support their constitutional right to a safe and stable climate.

Following a rally in the rain at Second and Oak streets, the students gathered, along with an audience of about 40, at Hood River Council Chambers to conduct a mock trial to support a real trial, Juliana v. U.S., that will take place in Eugene, with 21 young defendants from around the country.

According to student Lillie Tomlinson, “To be part of the fight for clean air and water is empowering because I now know that people my age have and can make a difference.”

“At issue is their future, threatened by quickly rising global temperatures, which could drastically change life as they know it by the time they are middle-age,” said Peter Cornelison in a press release. Cornelison is a Hood River City Council member who is also affiliated with two of the event sponsors: Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network.

Tomlinson said, “Our government has known about climate change for over 50 years and they have done little to nothing to prevent its disasterous effects. This problem has been thrown at our generation and it up to us to be the people that destroy the planet or the ones who save it. We are showing the world that we care, that adolecents are looking toward the future, not just at our phones.”

Mateo Campos-Davis told the “court” that “The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. protects its citizens rights to life, liberty and property. These rights protect us as well as future generations, but the U.S. Government has consistently violated these rights. For more that half a century, the government has know about the dangers of carbon pollution. They have knowingly promoted and approved fossil fuel development and we can already see the effects today. We see it in the droughts and fires that ravage the entire west every summer, or the storms and floods that follow in the eastern part of the country. In the Gorge, there are lots of great things to do in the summer, but now those activities are restricted, there are whole weeks where people can’t recreate and for the elderly and people with health conditions it can be dangerous to breath at all.”

Earth Action Club member Eva Jones added that, “We are at a poignant shift of history, with the mobilization taking place for the midterms, the gun safety debate and toxic levels of air pollution that will become irreversible if we don’t act soon. Let me rephrase that, soon was yesterday’s fight, the time is now. We don’t have any time left to argue whether or not irrefutable science can be ignored because of resource-guzzling corporations. My hometown of Hood River is practically the staging grounds for climate change; from retreating glaciers to raging wildfires and dwindling salmon populations. We see it all. The earth of the plants, the earth of the animals, not just ours. It is being destroyed, devastated and demolished beyond repair. Humans are creating another mass extinction and a mass shift in climate patterns. Its selfish of us to take and use and burn this living planet that we inhabit. The earth doesn’t belong to me or you or the president of any country. The earth is our home, we must protect our home. It is time to unite, to protect not only ourselves, but fellow organisms, future organisms. I am calling on each and every human on earth, regardless of race, nationality or income. The time is now, we are already late, we need to be swift and effective. Join us in flipping the history books, help make Gen Z the ones that saved the world.”

Adults who help as “Officers of the Court” included Justices Paul Moyer and Bill Weiler with Rev. Vicki Stifter of Riverside Community Church as the Chief Justice.

The role of plaintiff’s attorney was played by Ellen Donoghue, the government attorney was Eric Strid and Peter Cornelison was the court bailiff.

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