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? 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 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 it hasn’t happened yet. Asthe 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.


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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