Harvard junior and political science major Nick Overmann's parents expended every effort and spared no expense on their sun's education while he attended a rather good public schools in Southern California's Westlake Village. He went to numerous science camps, took piano lessons, went to L.A. Chamber concerts, became an Eagle Scout, and had tutors for his trigonometry and advanced chemistry classes.
His parents, Catherine and Andrew, insisted that Nick take all honors classes (he graduated with a 4.3 GPA), stayed up late at night helping him with homework and his science and social studies projects though both were exhausted from long days at work. Sometimes, when the sitter was unavailable, they drove Nick and sister Amy to ballet lessons, Little League, soccer, scouts, horse jumping lessons, and numerous volunteer activities.
As symbolic of their expenditures on his education, they plunked down $850 to pay for Nick's SAT preparation tutor. Of course the expenditures on their son's education at Harvard are enormous and they have had to borrow significant amounts of money.
But Nick Overmann, and thousands of students like him on college campuses all over America, is suing their parents who, like Catherine and Andrew, made great sacrifices for them.
Overmann, a champion debater, forceful and dynamic, started the first "Hold Boomers Responsible" organization at Harvard which now has over 500 chapters in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. The organizations are parties to a class action suit against citizens of the United States who were born between the years 1946 and 1964. This, of course, is the famous "boomer" generation known for its counter-cultural revolution and anti-war activities in the 1960's and 70's. Many were brutalized by the police and, at Kent State, slaughtered by the military.
The basis of the suit is the equal protection clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which essentially states that no persons may be deprived of rights equal to those of others. The courts apply the clause to categories of citizens.
The suit is now set for hearing in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs are arguing that the boomer generation has been substantially free from the effects of global warming but "do to the negligence of the defendants, their offspring, grandchildren, and their progeny will be deprived of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - rights not enumerated but reserved for the citizens and recognized by the courts."
The suit provides that all boomers "for their remaining years pay 22% of their income and, make provision that, upon death, all assets will be turned over into a fund to be distributed by the Department of Health And Human Services to future generations of U.S. citizens."
"My parents and their generation knew the science of global warming thirty years ago, but did nothing about it. The boomers today represent most of the money and most of the political influence in the U.S. and still they idly sit by as the earth will eventually be uninhabitable due to climate change." said Overmann.
The Harvard student continued, "My children and grandchildren will experience horrendous heat waves; coastlines disappearing; more disease and pestilence; intense drought; more wildfires; food shortages and mass extinctions in other countries. My great, great grandchildren will wish they had never been born."
Caroline Fuller, president of the U.C. Berkeley chapter of Hold Boomers Responsible, accused her parents of being like the Germans who stood by and watched Hitler come to power. "But, in a way, they are worse. Because of them the whole human race may become extinct."
"My parents are highly educated and know of the dangers of climate change. But they just drink their Chard, go to parties and travel. I've got pictures of my dad in the 60's with a long beard. Today he brags about the cops breaking his ribs in an anti-Vietnam war demonstration. But he's never given money to Friends Of The Earth or Greenpeace, let alone take to the streets and fight for future generations. He protested to save his ass but won't do it for his grandkids," said Fuller.
The vice-chair of the Berkeley group, Alicia Morrison, also criticized her parents. "Look, you've got 98% of climate scientists predicting a cataclysm in the future. Sure the anti-science fundamentalist Christians in the Bible Belt don't believe them but they're just morons with spittle dripping down their chins waiting for the Rapture."
"My parents are supposed to be sophisticated. My dad's an Episcopal priest but he's afraid to talk about climate change for fear of losing some parishioners. He's just as bad as some ignorant red neck with a drool cup," said Morrison.
As for Catherine and Andrew Overmann, they are proud of their son Nick and plan to join him in a demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline next month.
"He's a leader, an independent and creative thinker. Who wouldn't be pleased to be his Dad? But if he wins the lawsuit, there goes his inheritance," laughed Andrew Overmann.