Film screening encourages youth to take action on climate change
It was August 2015 when 21 American youth, ranging in age from their teens to mid-20s, filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the U.S. government.
The complaint asserts that the government has failed to protect public trust resources and through actions that cause climate change, has violated the constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. The plaintiffs state that the federal government has known for decades that carbon dioxide pollution was causing catastrophic climate change and that massive emission reductions and a nationwide transition away from fossil fuels was needed to protect constitutional rights.
These claims and more are outlined in their case, Juliana v. United States, which is at the center of the documentary, “Youth v Gov.”
When Jennie Lay, the Bud Werner Memorial Library’s adult programs coordinator, watched the documentary at a film festival last year, she wanted to make sure that the community got to see it, too.
On Tuesday, it will be screened in a special showing in Library Hall as part of extended programming in conjunction with One Book Steamboat’s community reading of “The Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson.
The novel, set in the near future, uses fictional eyewitness accounts to show how climate change will affect the entire world.
“When we decided to tackle climate change from its myriad perspectives in the context of our community read, I knew this documentary had to be part of it,” Lay said. “These are the kids who are inheriting this predicament, and we need to actively listen to what they are saying.”
The film, written and directed by Emmy-winning cinematographer Christie Cooper, has won multiple awards at film festivals across the country.
Locally, high school students are taking note, as well.
Margaux Shea is co-president of the Eco Club and runs the local Fridays for Future movement, which was originally started in Sweden by Greta Thunberg and now has organizations across the globe. Steamboat’s branch was founded by local student activist Emi Cooper. When Cooper left for college, Shea took over along with Cooper’s brother, Thomas.
Shea, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, became involved in the club after becoming aware of environmental changes she was noticing around her, such as increased wildfires and decreased snowfall.
“I realized that climate change wasn’t that far away from me,” Shea said. “I wanted to do something because this is our future. My generation will likely live to see big changes, and that makes it all the more personal to us.”
A panel of local students will be involved in a moderated discussion after the screening.
The Environmental Science classes at the high school will also be learning about climate change this semester, in part by participating in One Book Steamboat programming.
“It has been called a book of ideas, and I am looking forward to hearing what my students have to say about the fascinating, science-based ideas presented in the book about how humans could mitigate and eventually reverse climate change,” said teacher Jenny Frithsen.
In addition to reading the book, Frithsen will encourage her students to attend the screening.
“It’s exciting to be learning about climate change alongside the rest of the community,” she said.
In the next few months, the library will host several events, screenings and discussions related to the book. A discussion regarding Routt County’s climate action plan will take place as a virtual event Monday, Jan. 24, and on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist/scholar at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Center will discuss climate change through the lens of water and the West.
Events are free and participants can sign up online at SteamboatLibrary.org to join.
What: Bud Werner Memorial Library’s screening of “Youth v Gov“
When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18
Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Libary, 1289 Lincoln Ave.; masks required.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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