The GroundTruth Project is proud to announce that our interactive film, The Last Generation, a co-production with FRONTLINE, earned an Emmy at the 40th News and Documentary Emmys on Tuesday in the category of “Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary.”
Written and produced by GroundTruth fellows Michelle Mizner and Katie Worth, the story follows the lives of 9-year-old Izerman Yamaguchi-Kotton, 14-year-old Julia Rijino and 12-year-old Wilmer Joel — three children of the Marshall Islands who share their hopes and fears for the future as they grapple with the possibility of seeing their homeland disappear due to rising sea levels. They could potentially be the last generation to call the Marshall Islands home.
Mizner and Worth were part of the large editorial team that created The Last Generation, including FRONTLINE’s Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, Managing Editor Andrew Metz and Senior Producer for Digital Carla Borrás, and Executive Producers Charles M. Sennott, Beth Murphy and Marissa Miley from GroundTruth.
“It’s a poignant week for this project to be recognized as kids from all over the world are calling for action on climate change,” said Mizner, upon accepting the award.
Last week saw what may be the largest climate protest in world history. Millions turned out across the globe — from New York City to Berlin to Kabul. All protesting against the inaction of world leaders in the face of the climate crisis. The global demonstrations’ most notable leaders were children not much older than Izerman, Julia and Wilmer.
Among these youth activists was the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who embarked upon a 15-day voyage across the Atlantic in a carbon-free sailboat to speak before world leaders at Monday’s United Nations Climate Action Summit.
World leaders continue to miss the goals set to at least curb global temperatures below the two degree Celsius tipping point scientists have long warned about.
“How dare you,” Thunberg told delegates, tears welling up in her eyes. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I am one of the lucky ones.”
Less fortunate are the children of the Marshall Islands. With half the population of the archipelago nation under the age of 18, the story of the Marshallese is very much a story of youth under siege by climate change.
Joining Thunberg and 14 other youths to petition against government inaction Monday was Ranton Anjain, 17, of the Marshall Islands.
“I think when the Marshall Islands will be gone, it’s like the end of life to me,” Wilmer, 12, told us during the filming of The Last Generation. “Like the end of the world. Imagining that is very horrifying.”
We believe that as a news organization, it is our duty to inform the public about the dire consequences of climate change. That is why last week we joined Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation and 300 other news organizations and independent journalists across the globe in a coordinated effort to cover climate change and cross-publish stories that capture the urgency of this crisis under the banner of Covering Climate Now.
“We don’t look back [at great moments in journalism] and say Woodward and Bernstein were activists against Nixon,” Columbia Journalism Review’s Kyle Pope, one of the leaders of the initiative, said on the podcast The Kicker, “I just think that people need to think of this climate story the same way.”
Read these stories from news outlets that are part of Covering Climate Now. Follow this initiative on social media by using the hashtag #CoveringClimateNow.
“We hope that we, all in this room, can keep prioritizing this story,” said Mizner, before an audience of journalists at the News Emmys Tuesday night.