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

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

by Lee van der Voo


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“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

Do our children have a right to inherit a livable planet? Is the government obliged to protect it?

Twenty-one young people from across America have sued the federal government over climate change, charging that actions promoting 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 the government has used arcane legal tactics to stymie its progress at every turn.
As the World Burns follows the plight of the young plaintiffs, chronicling their legal battle as their childhoods are consumed by another year of drought and wildfire, floods and hurricanes, and the most tumultuous political season in modern history.

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. While acknowledgement of climate change seems increasingly optional in an America resistant to inconvenience, what she found was a group of young people who could indeed articulate, not only their own intense fears about the climate impacts already upending their lives, but a clear understanding of how deeply counter-interests were entrenched in their government and society. And how personal that was beginning to feel.
And yet, theirs is ultimately a story of hope.

As the World Burns is climate breakdown like you’ve never seen it—through the eyes of the young.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604699982
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Pages: 284
Sales rank: 566,661
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Lee van der Voo is an award-winning investigative and environmental journalist. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, The Guardian, and others. Lee’s reporting has received the Logan fellowship, the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Lizzie Grossman Grant for Environmental Health Reporting. Her first book, The Fish Market, won an Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction. 

Table of Contents

1 October 29, 2018: A Crisis at Hand, a Nation Consumed 9

2 "The Country That We Want to Live In" 28

3 "Not a Problem Individuals Can Solve" 50

4 "You Don't Have the Right to Tell an Oil Company No" 66

5 Radical Corrective Streak 84

6 The Furious Paper War and the Direction of the Nation 98

7 Soon to Be Disrupted by Wind and Rain 114

8 "The Other Side of the So-Called 'End of History'" 132

9 November 2018: Doubling Down on Backward 151

10 Crashing the Official Narrative 164

11 The Zenith of Ridiculous 182

12 A Dislocation of the Soul 196

13 "I Will Be with You in the Streets" 211

14 "The Constitutional Question of This Century" 220

15 White Noise in a Land That Doesn't Care 230

16 November 4, 2019: Purposeful Procession 240

Epilogue 255

Acknowledgments 256

Appendix: About the Youth Plaintiffs 260

Endnotes 267

Index 291

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