Bill Maher welcomed his youngest guest Friday night to his show, "Real Time with Bill Maher." Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 16, is an environmental activist who has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing the country's leaders of inaction on climate change.
Martinez, along with 20 other youth plaintiffs, has charged the United States government with violating future generations' "right to a healthy atmosphere."
"They are directly in violation of our public trust and of our Constitutional right to a healthy atmosphere," the teen claimed.
Maher noted that the right to a clean environment is "not specifically in the Constitution," but that it is implicit in the phrase, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which actually appears in the Declaration of Independence, a founding document that has no binding legal effect.
"Climate change is the defining issue of our time," Martinez told Maher, claiming that "it connects every other problem."
The liberal talkshow host agreed, adding that "if you don't solve that issue, there are no other issues."
Maher then asked his guest to share about his Aztec heritage how the issue of climate change has specifically affected him, an "indigenous person" for whom taking care of the environment was "always part of your culture."
"Yeah, I mean if you look at before Europe came and kind of messed s**t up over here ... we were doing alright and living in balance with the world," Martinez said. "And so I guess taking those principles and taking those understanding that were passed on to me, and working with technology, innovation and this new generation ... . My generation is more innovative and have more entrepreneurs than ever before. So we can really work together to build a new world by calling out our leaders and reminding them that they're not doing the job that they were put here to do."
Martinez has delivered three speeches at the United Nations on issues related to climate change, environmental protection and his generation.