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As the World Burns

The New Generation of Activists and the Landmark Legal Fight Against Climate Change

By Lee van der Voo

“The story of Juliana v. United States and the committed young people behind it will give you hope in the next generation.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Do children have a right to inherit a livable planet, and if so, is the government obliged to protect it? That’s the question posed by Juliana v. United States, one of the most critical lawsuits of our time.

Twenty-one young people from across America sued the federal government over climate change, charging that US actions to promote a fossil fuel economy violate their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. Their trial could be the civil rights trial of the century. But it hasn’t happened yet. While rare legal tactics attempt to stymie the case, As the World Burns follows the plight of the young plaintiffs, chronicling their legal battle through a year of drought and wildfire, floods and hurricanes, and the most tumultuous political season in modern history.

Acknowledging that forces larger than themselves are stealing their childhoods as well as their futures, the plaintiffs wrenchingly describe personal experiences with recurring “thousand-year” floods, wildfire smoke so thick they can’t ride a bike to school, drought that threatens family farms, and disappearing coastlines that send waves lapping ominously at their doors. Along the way, journalist Lee van der Voo weaves their experience into a broader narrative of America, where politics and policy threaten the very existence of our youth and our way of life. As the World Burns is climate breakdown like you’ve never seen it—through the eyes of the young.



 

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Lee van der Voo

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Review quotes
“The young people who brought the Juliana case are each remarkable, and together they paint a portrait of the next America, the one demanding real action so they too can have a working future on a working planet.” —Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
 
“A gripping account of the Juliana case—and the twenty-one young plaintiffs who dared sue the US government for inaction on climate change. This book uncovers one of the most powerful forces shaping the contemporary world: youth activism.” —Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground and winner of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature
 
“This is no ordinary lawsuit—and no ordinary book. Reams will be written about the legal proceedings of Our Children’s Trust, but Lee van der Voo gives us the fully human story, exploring the emotional and psychological dimensions of each amazing young person’s participation. The lawsuit emerges as a defining moment in their lives—and in the life of this country.” —Dominique Browning, senior director and cofounder of Moms Clean Air Force
 
“Teenagers, trials, technicalities, Trump, and this ‘oncoming tsunami’ create a haunting tale of how climate change is increasingly disrupting our planet's future.” —Margaret Lowman, director of TREE Foundation, National Geographic Explorer
 
“The question of climate change is a simple one: Will our young people be allowed a future? This book details the struggles of young activists as they battle in the courts for the most basic right of all—the right to survive.” —Mark Lynas, author of Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency
 
“A deeply human account of an extraordinary group of young people, a cast of characters whose courage, anguish, and idealism guide them through battle against entrenched power and a broken political system. Gripping, essential reading.” —Beth Gardiner, author of Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution
 
“A gripping account of the Juliana case—and the twenty-one young plaintiffs who dared sue the US government for inaction on climate change. This book uncovers one of the most powerful forces shaping the contemporary world: youth activism.” —Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground and winner of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature
 
“Lee van der Voo brings us into the lives and communities of the youth behind the case that exposed the inequitable impacts of climate change and elevated pressure for government action. The bravery of these young people and the urgency they sense should inspire us all in the global effort to create a more sustainable future.” —Lauren E. Oakes, author of In Search of the Canary Tree
 
“A well-paced, conversational narrative…a comprehensive look at the motivating factors that caused young adults to sue the government for a better future.” —Kirkus
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
284
Publication date
September 29, 2020
ISBN
9781604699982