According to Teen Vogue, eight Florida teens filed a lawsuit in April 2018 against Governor Rick Scott, the State of Florida and some of the government agencies within the state. The reasoning behind the lawsuit is the plaintiffs’ belief that the Florida government has not properly acknowledged, prevented, or attempted to aid the climate change crisis, stating in their claim that: “the state of Florida has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The driving force behind this lawsuit is Delaney Reynolds, the 18-year-old founder of The Sink or Swim Project, who is hopeful that a win on their behalf will force the Florida government to address climate issues and implement change.
Also cited in their lawsuit are the immediate and long-term threats Florida may face if climate change is not addressed: “ocean acidification, sea level rise, saltwater intrusion into drinking water wells, health-related threats from insect-borne diseases, lower agricultural yields, severe droughts, [and] increased frequency of extreme weather events.” The latter point was made evident in the recent hurricane that wreaked havoc along the Florida panhandle.
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Governor Rick Scott has repeatedly denounced climate change. He announced four years ago that he “is not a scientist,” and more recently praised President Donald Trump when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The plaintiffs bringing this lawsuit against him are tired of what they view as his inaction against a growing problem.
This lawsuit was filed only days after Rick Scott announced that he would be running for Senate against incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat who has had clear rhetoric about climate change and the need for action:
Climate change is real, and we must take action to protect ourselves. Denial of this scientific reality is simply not an option, especially in Florida.— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) March 13, 2018
Most of the plaintiffs mentioned the fact that they were excited at the opportunity to try and help implement change in their state, especially since this kind of action is typically reserved for adults. But they say that, especially as kids, their generation is going to be strongly affected by climate change, both for themselves and their children. This fact is another point argued by Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit that is backing the lawsuit. They conclude the lawsuit by stating that their mission is to “elevate the voice of youth, those with most to lose in the climate crisis, to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate on behalf of all present and future generations.”