As the World Burns: The New Generation of Activists and the Landmark Legal Fight Against Climate Change

Timber. Sept. 2020. 284p. ISBN 9781604699982. $27.95. POL SCI
Journalist Van Der Voo introduces readers to young environmental activists who filed the 2015 lawsuit Juliana vs. United States, hoping it would force the country to address climate change. The plaintiffs at that time ranged from eight to 19 years old. The lawsuit, using public trust doctrine, charges that the federal government has infringed upon the right of the plaintiffs to a future livable planet through its support of industries that lead to greenhouse gas emissions. A judge in Oregon declined to dismiss the case, but the Ninth Circuit Court later dismissed it. The attorneys for the plaintiffs filed an appeal, so while the young people profiled in this book are growing up, the case drags on. The author takes readers inside the lives of some of the young activists to show how climate change is already affecting them through phenomena such as floods in Louisiana, drought on Native American lands, and wildfires in California. The narrative follows the legal case to the present day, when it was dismissed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in early 2020. The nonprofit Our Children’s Trust is representing their case pro bono with help from climatologist James Hansen; their latest appeal is still pending.
VERDICT Recommended for those interested in environmental justice and youth advocacy.
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