From partly bare hillsides once covered in snow to intensifying forest fires, Montana first grader Noah Gue says he’s seen climate change “with my own eyes.”
The six-year-old looks into the camera in a compelling three-minute video that his parents produced, and talks about how rising temperatures are affecting his family—his dad’s a firefighter—and the landscapes near his home in Bozeman.
“Glaciers are receding and could soon be gone forever … Some animals may go extinct in the next century … It’s time for the world to see conservation through a kid’s eyes,” he says in “Noah’s Project,” which will be honored Friday at the White House. (Millennials also voice concern about climate change.)
The child’s appeal comes as President Barack Obama sidesteps GOP opponents in his efforts to fight global warming. On Thursday, Obama signed an executive order that requires the federal government to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, from 2008 levels, and boost its share of electricity from renewable sources to 30 percent by 2025.
Obama is also meeting with Britain’s Prince Charles, a staunch advocate of climate action, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, in the Oval Office to discuss the two nations’ environmental plans ahead of global climate talks later this year in Paris.
Noah’s world is filled with crayons, not politics. The boy hopes, though, to meet Obama when he and his parents attend an event for the 15 finalists of this year’s White House Student Film Festival.
“He’s so little. I didn’t know he’d have the stamina to do it,” his mom, Amy Larson Gue, a wedding photographer, says of the video. “We’ve never done anything like that before, but he was comfortable in front of the camera and passionate about doing the project.”
The video became a family affair. Noah saw his grandmother’s picture book about Glacier National Park, and she told him what the glaciers looked like when she was a girl.
“So we thought, we’ve got to go see them now,” says Amy, who took photos of Noah and his three-year-old brother, Theodore (named for Theodore Roosevelt), visiting that park, as well as Yellowstone and Paradise Valley. Dad Michael, a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, recorded their travels with his GoPro camera and used Apple’s iMovie app to weave in Amy’s pictures and produce the video.
“He memorized what he was going to say,” Amy says of Noah, who is barely old enough to read. “But when he got in front of the camera, he added in his own comments.”
The video shows Noah, who cross-country skis to his local public school in winter, trying to ski down a hillside. But he runs out of snow and hits a patch of dry grass.
“February in Montana at 9,000 feet,” he says. “What a shame.”
In another scene, he holds soot from a Paradise Valley fire. “Forest fires like this are becoming more frequent and more severe,” he says, noting that when his dad fights them he leaves two weeks earlier and returns home two weeks later than before.
Noah also is shown helping a great horned owl rescue. His mom says he wants to expand the project to look at animals in the wild. “My hope is that the pictures we are taking,” he says in the video, “will inspire others to protect the environment.”