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Mountainfilm, The New Normal, and 21 kids sue Federal Government over climate change

It was such a thrill being invited to Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado. Now that I’ve recovered from jet lag — made worse by an all-night vigil watching the UK election results coming in — I’d like to tell you about the high points of Mountainfilm, which include meeting an eleven-year-old girl from Oregon who is taking on the US Federal Government.

What, you ask, was I even doing at the festival? Well, I went to Mountainfilm with my husband Garry to talk about climate change — specifically about how our community of Ashton Hayes has spent 11 years cutting our carbon emissions. Garry gave a well-received and positive talk at the festival’s Symposium and over the course of the week we spoke with local residents, non-profit organisations and media about Telluride’s own plans for achieving carbon neutrality. The two points about the Ashton Hayes project that struck everyone at Mountainfilm were these: One, we don’t ever invite politicians to address our meetings. Two, we don’t argue with anyone. Several New Yorkers were pretty aghast; they couldn’t imagine not arguing.

Attorney Julia Olson with her client Avery McRae at Mountainfilm Symposium.

So, the major highlight for me… was meeting eleven-year-old Avery McRae who is the second youngest of 21 plaintiffs (all under the age of 20) suing the federal government for ignoring early warnings over climate change and endangering their health by continuing to burn fossil fuels. Avery was accompanied by her dad, a climate scientist, and lead attorney in the case, Julia Olson.

Juliana et al v. United States et al is working its way through the courts, so watch out in the news media for this fascinating and potentially game-changing legal action.

I was immensely impressed by Avery’s clear thinking and hard talking. It made me wonder if every politician ought to have an eleven-year-old at their elbow, watching every piece of proposed legislation crossing their desk. I’m sure Avery would ask: “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Is that really fair to us kids?” Read more