Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

March 27, 2017 by  
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Teenagers fighting environmental destruction at the hands of the oil and gas industry in Colorado just celebrated a victory. Last week the Colorado Court of Appeals sided with teenage activist and Earth Guardians director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez , who filed suit, and reversed a lower court ruling so the state could have to prioritize environmental protection before the interests of the fossil fuel industry . Back in 2013 Martinez and other teenagers approached the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), a state organization that according to their website is charged with promoting responsible development of fossil fuel resources in Colorado “in a manner consistent with the protection of public health , safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.” But apparently the kids didn’t think they were doing such a great job with that mission – and they weren’t alone. According to The Denver Post, COGCC officials for over 10 years have interpreted their mission to balance fossil fuel industry interests against public health. Since the commission’s formation, over 50,000 oil wells have been drilled. Related: 16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026 The kids asked the organization to not issue any new drilling permits “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change .” COGCC refused after holding a hearing. The teenagers appealed, with the support of over a dozen advocacy groups. But the Denver District Court backed the COGCC. So the teenagers appealed again, and last week a three-judge appeals court panel sided with the teenagers. The fight isn’t over. The COGCC doesn’t have to now implement the teenagers’ rule. Instead the ruling means the organization illegally rejected the rule, and the case returns to district court. Via Business Insider and The Denver Post Images via Xiuhtezcatl Martinez on Facebook and Teja Jonnalagadda on Facebook

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Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

16-year-old activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez wins 2016 Children’s Climate Prize

November 29, 2016 by  
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The 16-year-old environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez is no stranger to Inhabitat. Known for suing the government for inaction on climate change and calling for an end to fossil fuel use , Martinez just received important international recognition for his tireless work. Last week in Sweden, he accepted the new Children’s Climate Prize , which comes with a generous financial reward. Swedish renewable energy company Telge Energi awarded Martinez the prize, which is given to a kid between 10 and 16 who is working to help the environment . Telge Energi described Martinez as an “extraordinarily powerful voice in the climate debate worldwide.” The jury who chose Martinez praised his willingness to take on big interests such as the fossil fuel industry , and commended him for inspiring others to use their voices too, no matter their age. Related: 16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026 The jury said, “Through his passion and love for climate issues, this year’s winner has already, at a young age, had an enormous impact on many people, from children and youth to people with power, to make decisions shaping the future of our planet. With a unique skill of connecting activism with political talent, he has demonstrated both passion and courage, not avoiding controversial issues such as calling for a ban on fracking in his own home state Colorado. By doing so, he has challenged strong political and economic powers. As a hip-hop artist with a clear message he has demonstrated the power of linking culture with environmental issues as a way to mobilize engagement and action.” For winning the prize, Martinez received 50,000 Swedish Krona, which is about $6,000, along with a medal. The award ceremony occurred in Sweden last week, commemorating the Children’s Climate Conference that took place last year just before COP21. Martinez has made his voice heard through avenues as diverse as legal action to hip hop, and he’s the director of Earth Guardians , a youth organization comprised of musicians and artists who want the world to be a better place. + Children’s Climate Prize + Earth Guardians + Telge Energi Images via Telge Energi

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16-year-old activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez wins 2016 Children’s Climate Prize

Judge greenlights kids’ climate change lawsuit against US govt

November 14, 2016 by  
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Kids may not be able to vote, but they are finding other ways to hold government leaders accountable for their action (or inaction) on climate change . A federal judge in Oregon announced Thursday that an earlier lawsuit filed by 21 youth plaintiffs would be considered valid and proceed in court. The suit names President Barack Obama, the fossil fuel industry, and other federal agencies as defendants, charging that decision makers are violating the constitutional rights of future generations by failing to take adequate action to prevent worsening climate change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNbEhLwSKw4 The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, whose ages range from nine to 20, are organized under the name Our Children’s Trust , an Oregon nonprofit, and are partnered with Earth Guardians to fight for their future. The group filed their initial complaint over a year ago, in an historic milestone for youth environmental activism. Renowned climate scientist James Hansen is also backing the lawsuit, helping lend validity to the suit. Since the suit was filed in September 2015, many have questioned whether minors can defend their constitutional rights in the same way an adult might, plaintiffs named in the lawsuit have tried numerous tactics to talk their way out of responsibility, including denying that climate change is a man-made problem. Related: Meet the 16-year-old who sued the US government over climate change US District Judge Ann Aiken saw past their efforts and ruled Thursday, November 10, that the lawsuit was valid, affirming the rights of children to demand attention from government and business leaders. “Federal courts too often have been cautious and overly deferential in the arena of environmental law, and the world has suffered for it,” she wrote in the ruling. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is one of the young leaders of a growing movement that gives kids a voice concerning environmental destruction, and he has been the face of this lawsuit as well. “My generation is rewriting history. We’re doing what so many people told us we were incapable of doing: holding our leaders accountable for their disastrous and dangerous actions,” he said in a statement about the judge’s affirmative ruling. “This is going to be the trial of our lifetimes.” Via Motherboard Images via Earth Guardians

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Judge greenlights kids’ climate change lawsuit against US govt

16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026

July 28, 2016 by  
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An online petition by 16-year-old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has attracted over 100,000 signatures demanding that the 2016 presidential candidates commit to ending the use of fossil fuels in the next decade in an attempt to avert catastrophic climate change. In his video letter to the candidates, Martinez speaks out on behalf of the millions of members of his generation who will be affected by the new president’s climate policies, but who are too young to participate in the current election. Watch his moving video message below: https://youtu.be/BNKO-yveNlA In his petition, Martinez highlights the recent climate agreement in Paris , which would require the US to transition to a zero carbon energy economy by the year 2050 – and emphasizes that such action simply isn’t enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Instead, he wants the next president to include a plan to end the use of fossil fuels in the next ten years as part of their platform. This isn’t Martinez’s first time in the spotlight. He gave his first public address on climate change when he was just six years old, and now serves as the youth director of Earth Guardians, a movement of activists, artists, and musicians united in stopping climate change. Earlier this year, he made headlines when he spearheaded a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration for failing to take adequate action against climate change. He’s even spoken before the UN General Assembly on the issue. Related: This courageous Baltimore teenager shut down America’s largest incinerator Martinez is facing an uphill battle when it comes to convincing our politicians to take dramatic action on climate change. Not only has Donald Trump claimed that climate change is a “hoax” created by the Chinese government, he’s also stated that he would “renegotiate” the Paris deal in an attempt to skirt the US’s obligations under the treaty. He’s even gone so far as to sue developers of a Scottish wind farm for ruining the view from his golf course. Hillary Clinton is, of course, a more sympathetic audience, but even she is likely to bristle at the suggestion of ending all fossil fuel use so quickly. The Guardian has hailed her platform as “the strongest ever” on climate change: the current draft calls for a carbon tax, stricter regulations for the approval of oil pipelines, stronger regulation of fracking, and prioritizing renewable energy development over natural gas. While these are all important steps, they’re far from the dramatic approach Martinez advocates. It may take significant persuasion to convince Clinton that the issue is pressing enough to risk alienating the oil and gas lobby. Related: Meet the inspiring Peruvian grandmother who’s standing up to big mining It must also be said that, no matter what the future president includes in their platform, there’s a limited amount that they can do if other lawmakers refuse to pass the bills necessary to transition away from fossil fuels. We’ve seen this issue arise time and time again in the Obama administration’s clashes with Congress. Still, just because it may be an uphill climb politically doesn’t mean that Martinez’s petition should be ignored. With the recent years clocking in as the hottest in history , it’s now more important than ever to take dramatic action to stop climate change. If you’d like to join Xiuhtezcatl Martinez in demanding immediate action to end the use of fossil fuels in the US, you can sign the petition here . + Earth Guardians Images via Earth Guardians

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16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026

Medieval village ruins converted into an art school unveil past secrets

July 28, 2016 by  
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Once the stomping grounds of Celtic tribes, Roman armies, and famed painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, this tiny village made from stone has enjoyed a colorful history thanks to its location along the ancient La Via Domita, the first paved trade route that passed through the Luberon Valley to link Italy and Hispania. The cluster of stone structures clings to a hillside overlooking spectacular valley vistas of lavender fields and the Luberon ranges. Like an open-air museum, the village is filled with physical reminders of its rich history, from its massive fortification walls built during religious and territorial battles to the still-visible 17th century dates etched into keystones and window frames during the village’s building boom in the 1600s. The village of Lacoste survived the French revolution of the late 18th century—though the infamous Marquis de Sade’s Lacoste chateau was destroyed in the riots—and continued to expand into the late 19th century, however, suffered terribly during the two World Wars when it was used to harbor the Resistance. The construction revolution during the 1950s and 1960s dealt another heavy blow, as skilled laborers and their families abandoned the village for the city. Related: SCAD Students Transform an Atlanta Parking Garage into Ecologically Responsible Micro-Housing Community Fortunately, American artist Bernard Pfiem fell in love with the Lacoste ruins in the 1950s and purchased the derelict buildings for a pittance—around $500 for twenty-odd structures—transforming the village into the Lacoste School of the Arts in 1970. Pfriem waxed poetic on the location: “Lacoste’s remoteness, isolation, and even primitiveness force all of us to face ourselves and our own resources as artists. This is a vital experience for the creative person, as important as the rich awesome novelty of responding to a foreign culture and landscape.” International visiting artists flocked to the campus, however, after the death of Pfriem in 1996, the village fell into decline once more until it caught the eye of the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2002, the Lacoste School of the Arts donated their eighteen properties to SCAD, which set off on an ambitious community effort to restore and renovate the buildings, much of which lacked modern plumbing and electricity and some of which were completely uninhabitable. SCAD preservationists, alumni, staff, and students worked alongside local masons and specialists to restore the village and sensitively transform the buildings into artist studios, classrooms, offices, and dormitories. Rather than dive headfirst into structural repairs, SCAD first developed a comprehensive plan that addressed the needs of the campus and community, climatic concerns, and long-term growth. At the heart of the plan was a desire to make the village’s rich history a tangible experience as opposed to a sterile museum-like environment detached visitors from the history. One great example of their success is the adaptive reuse of the 1840s boulangerie located at the heart of the village into SCAD’s library, which continues the boulangerie’s purpose as the “village hearth” and gathering space. The boulangerie’s beehive oven is turned into a reading nook and books on all SCAD subjects line the walls. On Rue Basse, the main cobblestone road of Lacoste, sits the Olivier Caves, medieval caves that have been restored and outfitted into working studios for artist residences to carry on Provence’s great atelier tradition. Related: SCAD artist weaves sustainably sourced yarns into vibrant environmental art and stories Currently in its fourteenth year, the magical and well-preserved Lacoste village has already welcomed thousands of students and visitors but its historic preservation and restoration efforts are far from finished. New discoveries continue to be made with every excavation, from unearthed 3rd century Roman glass relics to sprawling underground tunnels beneath Rue Basse. SCAD has thus far restored over 30 buildings, though the number is not exact since many structures are merged together and unexpected rooms and spaces are uncovered during restoration work. Traditional building methods and locally quarried Luberon stone are used in repairs wherever possible. While the village’s architectural character is preserved and respected, SCAD injects new life into the stone buildings with colorful lush landscaping and contemporary student artwork that tastefully punctuate Lacoste. Perhaps the best place to see the confluence of contemporary art and historic preservation is in Maison Basse, a former farmhouse in the valley that is SCAD’s most extensive restoration project to date. The building, which houses a cafeteria, living rooms, studios, and student housing, features a tasteful and elegant mix of local vintage furnishings, historic relics found on site, and SCAD artwork in every room. SCAD Lacoste invites no more than eighty SCAD students to study at the beautifully preserved medieval village every quarter. Visitors in Provence are also free to visit the grounds and attend guided tours. Modern amenities, such as plumbing, electricity, WiFi, computer labs, and more have all been integrated into the campus without disturbing the historic character. Adaptive reuse is a core theme found throughout not just on the Lacoste campus, but also on all SCAD campuses including those in Atlanta, GA; Savannah, GA; and Hong Kong. + Savannah College of Art and Design Images © Lucy Wang

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Medieval village ruins converted into an art school unveil past secrets

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