Montana Kids Take Climate Change Into Their Own Hands


Climate Change Trial, June 12, 2023. File photo by William Campbell/Getty Images

While MHS was on summer break, some exciting news for the environment and students arose. 16 young people sued the state of Montana for the right to have a clean and healthful environment with a safe climate. The teens wanted to limit fossil fuel production in their state and have development start to think about the consequences of fossil fuels. The 16 plaintiffs are Rikki (22), Lander (18), Lilian (12), Ruby (15), Georgi (21), Badge (15), Kian (18), Eva (17), Taleah (19), Olivia (20), Jeff (9), Nate (6), Mica (15), Claire (20), Grace (19), and Sariel (20). To clarify, this case started back in 2020 when all of the plaintiffs were kids. Our Children’s Trust is the environmental organization that helped the teens take legal action. Since their founding the nonprofit law firm has raised over $20 million dollars.

This was the first climate lawsuit started by kids in the U.S. This is also one of the few lawsuits where the government is set to protect citizens from climate change. Excitingly, they won the lawsuit against Montana! Judge Kathy Steely decided in the teens' favor on August 14th, 2023. A huge accomplishment for young people, for getting involved in the government. As students at MHS, we are very soon going to be the future of this country and should start thinking about politics. Instead of continuing to have elderly men making decisions about the country, students should plan on getting involved.

While reading this article you might be wondering, why is reducing fossil fuel production important? Fossil fuels are oil, coal, and gas, that provide us with energy. However, the process of collecting these fossil fuels causes air and water pollution and is one of the main reasons for global warming. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gas emissions which are mostly carbon dioxide. These emissions are released into the atmosphere and cause the planet to heat up.

While this is a big achievement for the teens, the state of Montana still has to figure out how to put this policy into place. So that does delay how soon fossil fuel production will change and become more eco-friendly, however, this is still a step in the right direction and a win for the environment.

If you are interested in the environment and would like to participate in it at school, join The Green Team, a club all about environmental sustainability at MHS. They meet every Thursday after school, in room C-12. One way to help The Green Team is by using the recycling bins in the cafeteria and courtyard to dispose of your plastic bottles and cups.