As The World Burns

In 2015, twenty-one kids across America sued the federal government over climate change, arguing their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property were being violated. Theirs was to be the civil rights trial of our century. But it hasn’t happened yet. Instead, their day in court – Oct. 29, 2018 – slipped by while Trump Administration deployed rare legal tactics to stymie the case, leaving our nation’s courts in a tangle and legal observers aghast.

While the youth plaintiffs wait, they say they hate it when people tell them they are America’s last hope to halt climate change. Why, they wonder, has our nation abdicated this responsibility to them?

In As the World Burns, Lee van der Voo recaps a year in their wait for a trial. It unfolds against the backdrop of cataclysmic floods and wildfires, rising seas and hurricanes, and an epic Congressional fight for power with a president who refuses to acknowledge any of it. Along the way, 15-year-old Jayden Foytlin battles the oil politics of south Louisiana, her home having flooded twice. Jacob Lebel, 20, works to protect his Oregon farm from a proposed natural gas pipeline with dubious benefit. And 11-year-old Levi Draheim fights to save the barrier island he calls home as the seas rise and hurricanes force evacuations.

Beginning with their cancelled trial, the plaintiffs' story intersects with the Dakota Access Pipeline, Hurricane Michael’s devastation, and the decimation of Paradise, California by wildfire. Through the lens of their youth, the plaintiffs meanwhile raise critical questions of stewardship and culpability, both for a president at war with the truth and for the press and activists who hail them as saviors, shrugging off their own grown-up failures.

Timely, important, and urgent, As the World Burns is climate breakdown like you've never seen it -- through the eyes of the young -- a book that hits home the dire consequences of inaction and the potential pitfalls of leaving the fate of the planet in the hands of U.S. court system.


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