by Matthew Smith
My name is Matthew Smith. I am 16 years old and from Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas as a child and I didn’t know anything about global warming.
As I grew older, I started watching videos and television shows concerning the effects it will have on us and the Earth. I decided to take action by joining Greenpeace and iMatter, because I didn’t like what I saw and it worried me. I fear us youth will have a hard time living in the future because our air will be unbreathable and higher and lower temperatures will cause seasons to mix together.
I started doing research on coal plants because that is a big factor in climate change. I gave myself hope saying that, if I want a change, I will have to push others and myself for it. Cleveland’s main coal burning power plant is called Lake Shore and is owned by First Energy. This plant uses water from Lake Erie. We also have coal plants on two colleges (Cleveland State University and CASE University) located in downtown Cleveland. Finally, we have one on the Cuyahoga River, also downtown.
All these plants burn twenty-four seven. I have teamed up with local environmental organizations to either reduce the amount burned or to shut down the plants. I’m pushing Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and First Energy to change the way we generate power.
I am suing the U.S. government for a cleaner future for my family and me. Thirty percent of the global population is under the age of 18. We cannot vote, have no public voice and no representation in government. More than any other issue, the climate crisis will affect us most. Decisions made or not made today will determine our future prosperity, hope, and security. It's time our voices are heard.
We are the 30 percent. This isn't something that will just affect one city or one state, but the whole world, and the whole world as such can affect it. Youth across the country are sending in their stories and rising up together. This movement isn’t about politics or economics. Numbers can’t tell the whole story. It’s about us, and it’s time that voice was heard.
At this time, kids are suing the U.S. government. Youth have the moral authority and the legal right, as the generation most affected by the climate crisis, to demand that our governments protect the atmosphere for our future. We don't have the money to compete with corporate lobbyists, and we may not yet be able to vote, but we do have a legal right to insist that the planet is protected for our future and for generations to come. We need our government to protect the atmosphere by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and put an end to our unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels.
We are taking our governments to court to insist that they act as faithful trustees and put these climate recovery plans in place. iMatter is partnering with a coalition of awesome attorneys from around the country and the world, organized by Our Children's Trust, to bring our case to the court.
We are asking for:
• Peak emissions in 2011
• At least a 6 percent Reduction in Global CO2 emissions every year
• 100 Gigaton Reforestation (especially in the tropics)
This is what top climate scientists have determined is needed to get our atmosphere balanced again at 350 p.p.m. within a century.
It's actually possible to stop the worst effects from happening if we transition to clean energy now. Some countries (like the U.S.) need to drastically reduce emissions immediately, while some countries need to stop deforestation and replant trees. It's going to take all of us working together, but we must act now. The situation gets worse every year we wait. If we wait even a few years, we would have to cut emissions by 10 percent or even 20 percent per year.
We can't wait any longer, and yet politics and concern over short-term profits for huge corporations are keeping us stuck. That's why these legal actions are so important. We, the youngest generation, need to use our legal right and moral authority to say stop.
For more information on the lawsuit, click here.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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