UPDATE: iMatter Kids Winning for the Atmosphere!

The iMatter kids lawsuits I wrote about in May are making headway. Where? In of all places, the historically conservative states of Texas and New Mexico.

CC dry streambed-Matt Rudge

photo: Matt Rudge – Creative Commons
from TckTckTck

Maybe this year’s hottest summer on record (3,282 heat records broken in June), ongoing drought and wildfires convinced Texas District Court Judge, Gisela Triana, to rule “the atmosphere and air must be protected for public use.”

A few days later, Judge Sarah Singleton of the New Mexico District Court, threw out her state attorneys’ request to shut down the iMatter Trust suit, which, likewise, sought to protect the atmosphere. The plaintiff who sued the state, 18 year-old, Akilah Sanders-Reed, was represented for free by lawyers with Wild Earth Guardians.

New Mexico flag CC

Judge Singleton’s ruling helps move the state to cut atmosphere-damaging emissions by developing “Climate Recovery Plans” similar to others in states and the nation that restore streams, native grasslands, and ocean fish populations.

Listen to Akilah talk about her decision to become the suit’s key actor (Progressive Radio Network July 31, 2012, beginning at 17:17 minutes into the show). Her reasoning goes beyond her state, to the importance of these individual lawsuits on the nation and the planet. Attorney, Tanya Sanerib, a legal counsel in the federal cases, joins her to explain the basics of the suit and the Public Trust and what’s at stake. I promise it’s not boring.

New Mexico Whitewater Baldy Night Fire 6/6/2012

New Mexico’s Whitewater Baldy Night Fire 6/6/2012
Photo: Kari Greer – Credit USFS Gila National Forest.

The iMatter kids have done their homework. Watch their video stories; new ones have been added since May. All are impressive. These passionate young people, from diverse backgrounds, know that fighting for everyone’s right to a livable planet won’t be easy. The lawsuits force judges to breathe their decisions into uncharted air. The Public Trust doctrine has been used successfully to support the environment, but it has never been tapped to protect the  atmosphere, thus full planet health. You can’t get more basic than that. Judges Triana and Singleton have bravely opened new legal territory, making it easier for other state and federal judges to act.

Visit and bookmark this page at Our Children’s Trust to read about and follow the state-by-state progress of the lawsuits.

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Now the weirdest story I’ve run across about adaptations to climate change.

http://old-photos.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

Hoping for chocolate milk?

Farmers Feed Hungry Cattle Chocolate in Lieu of Corn

Opinions vary on why some cow farmers in the Midwest are resorting to feeding livestock chocolate, marshmallows, and gummy bears instead of corn. No science on the impact of turning cows into sweet junkies is offered. I wonder whether the state Ag Extension offices have weighed in. I may be a chocoholic, but I’m sticking to my California squeezed milk!

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“The Atmosphere Belongs to Every Generation”  iMatter.org and Our Children’s Trust.org

Celebrate 10/15! California’s THUMBS UP to Pacific Leatherbacks!

WAY TO GO, CALIFORNIA!

Leatherbacks get better chance than the grizzly bear

September 26th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation naming the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) the state’s marine reptile.

This Monday, October 15th is — and every October 15th to come:      

Pacific Leatherback Conservation Day!

Special thanks to Assembly member, Paul Fong, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Oceana, and the many organizations, individuals, and legislators who made this happen.

Leatherbacks are the “Texas*-sized” member of the sea turtle species. The largest, they lay the biggest eggs in the highest number of clutches, travel the greatest distances (and to more varied environments — tropical to subarctic), and dive the deepest (like, whale deep, up to 3,000+ ft/900+ m), looking for their favorite food, jellyfish.

Leatherback-Wallace Nichols

Leatherback swimming off Mozambique
photo: Wallace Nichols. Creative Commons

Imagine an animal as delicate and water-filled as a jelly, powering such a huge reptile around the world. The Pacific coast of California is one foraging habitat for leatherbacks, which can now find protection within a 16,000 square-mile “critical habitat zone” up and down the state.

Jellies
photo: Petr Kratochvil

This week’s THUMBS DOWN for HAWAII

The bad news for leatherback and loggerhead turtles hanging out around Hawaii is the National Marine Fisheries Service has relaxed regulations, supporting the island’s long-line industry by increasing the number of turtles that can be legally caught (even killed) as by-catch during swordfish fishing.

Longline & turtle drawing from Sustainable Sushi.com

Image from Sustainable Sushi.net
No artist credit given

In November the numbers for leatherbacks “go up to 26, more than a 60 percent increase, and the loggerhead catch to 34, about a 100 percent increase.” (Washington Post Oct 6, 2012). While these numbers seem small, both sea turtle species have suffered major population declines in the last few decades due to fishing, egg and turtle poaching, and ingesting plastics. Female leatherbacks reach breeding age when they are between 7 and 13 years-old. They may lay up to 10 clutches a year, they only nest every 2 to 7 years (2-4 is average). With all they face surviving to reach adulthood, then reproduce, cutting down threats, rather than raising limits on them, seems prudent.

As bad is the by-catch issue, escaped and discarded plastic is arguably the worst enemy of the ocean and its inhabitants. I taped this photo to my back door as a reminder to take cloth shopping bags with me and to watch for plastic-alternative packaging.

Leatherback hatchling hugs

Leatherback hatchlings
photo: Daphne Goldberg CC

Keep balloons on a tether and dispose of properly–this does NOT include releasing them into the sky*!

* Speaking of Texas and sky, watch for my next blog post, “UPDATE: Kids Winning for the Atmosphere,” coming soon.

Watch the Earth Breathe!

Check out this cool model, Breathing Earth. Hover over different countries and watch the clock per second and annual tons of CO2 emissions per person change. Not every big country uses a lot of resources, and not every small country uses less. Some of it is population size, but not always. See what conclusions you come up with.

I used a link from the website to calculate my “CO2 footprint.” I came out sporting size 15 galoshes (that’s rubber boots for any of you under age 55). The actual question raised, rather than the size of your foot imprint on wet sand is, “How many planets does it take to support your lifestyle?” Even with all the “right” things I do like recycling, living in a fairly energy-efficient house, etc., 4.1 planets is beyond embarrassing! 

CO2 footprint shot

My CO2 Footprint as of 10-4-12

See how well you’re doing. Share ideas with us on what you’ve done to reduce your footprint.

Me? It’s lunchtime and right after I “explore scenarios” on the website to do better, I’m of to make a salad. Then get out in the sunshine to rejuvenate my garden beds and plant some fall veggies and sugar snap peas for spring.

See ya.