Kids are suffering from global warming – and they're suing the government

TRUST Arizona from Our Children's Trust on Vimeo.

Even if you buy the science behind climate change (which is very compelling), it’s still hard to make an emotional argument about global warming: all of the bad stuff’s going to happen in the future, so you can’t show someone a victim. Right? Not so fast – not only are parts of the developing world, particularly Africa, already feeling the impacts of a warming world, but the children and grandchildren of current generations will “feel the heat.” The victims of global warming are all around us, even if they’re not experiencing the worst of the phenomenon yet.

Both of those points – that some are already suffering, and that others will – come together in the TRUST film series, a collection of ten short documentaries on kids from around the United States, and the ways climate change is already affecting them. In the latest installment (the fourth in the series, above), 11-year-old “Navajo artist” Jaime Lynn Butler describes water shortages in her Northern Arizona homeland, which led to, among other things, the need to sell her horse.  If you don’t think a little girl having to give up her pony is emotional enough, check out the stories from Alaska, Montana, and California to see how other young people are already having to cope with the results of global warming.

The stories themselves are compelling, but the TRUST series isn’t being made just to share the experiences of their subjects. The kids in these videos, along with environmental organizations Our Children’s Trust, the iMatter Campaign and WITNESS, have taken the US government to court, arguing that the atmosphere itself is a public resource, and should be protected as such. And while kids filing a lawsuit sure sounds like a publicity stunt, the organizations backing these young plaintiffs make a strong point: these kids are the ones that will have to pay the costs of continued inaction against climate change.

Take a look at the videos, let us know which ones speak to you, and what you think of this approach to climate activism.


Image credit: Screen capture from “TRUST Arizona” video