Students Take Legal Action Against Climate Change

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A blanket of smog covering the city. Red, burning light from the sun glowing ominously. The Seattle skyline suffocated by a thick, unnatural smoke. For the two weeks in August in which the air quality reached levels worse than Beijing, our city was socked in by wildfires amplified by the effects of climate change. According to Jamie Margolin, a 16-year-old activist from Shoreline, the smoke was a sign of the impending global warming disaster. “When I scroll through my Instagram feed in the summer, instead of seeing pictures of my friends enjoying the sun, I see some of them wearing gas masks above captions saying things like “I can’t find breathable air anywhere.” Since 2017, Margolin has worked with youth-led environmental activism groups to make change regarding the U.S.’s policies on global warming. “It’s time for youth be given the microphone and for our voices to count on the issue of climate change.” Margolin says, “For once, it’s time for leaders to listen to what the youth need, instead of vice versa.” Young voices have been rising recently to the forefront of the nation’s political agenda. Their media exposure has increased significantly, with the March for Our Lives organizers, teenage survivors of school shootings and now Margolin and her group of environmental activists. With an increase in attention comes an increase in political power.

Over the past couple of years, Margolin and a group of fellow young people have been suing the state of Washington for a livable climate. “Elected officials talk about solving the climate crisis, but then turn around and issue permits for fossil fuel plants that poison communities, and destroy the ecosystems, water, air and land that my generation and future generations need to survive”, Margolin said. Washington state law says that all citizens have a “fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment”. Though her lawsuit has been shot down by judges and deemed “optimistic” yet unrealistic, Margolin remains determined to make action for a healthy environment in the country. This year, there is an initiative to tax carbon use in Washington State, which many say would reduce the carbon footprint greatly. Young activists are determined to keep making change, however: “We won’t stop fighting until we get the change we need and deserve”.

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