Climate change is, without a doubt, the biggest global issue of our lifetimes. From heat waves to rising sea levels, it really feels like we’re up sh*t creek with no paddle and no boat. We’re literally drowning in our own pollution.

This line of thought gets pretty depressing pretty quickly, and it becomes more and more important to figure out what can we actually do about climate change. So what can we do?

Sixteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and his friends came up with a pretty radical idea: they decided to sue the American government for failing to provide them with a clean, safe and liveable environment. Their argument is based on the fact that the American constitution outlines peoples’ fundamental right to life and liberty. Martinez and his fellow activists argue that by failing to address climate change, the government is violating those rights.

Martinez recently told triple j’s Hack:

“We’ve been to court twice now. The first two times the fossil fuel companies and the US Government said we don’t have a right to file a lawsuit. But [the court] denied the motion to dismiss. Twenty-one young people overcame a multi-billion-dollar industry and one of the most powerful governments in the world.”

The next step is to present the case to the federal court, which will happen in coming months. If they’re successful, it will set a huge precedent for the future.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been an activist since the age of 12 and he’s now the leader of Earth Guardians, a worldwide environmental conservation organisation. He also had a hit hip-hop song, called “What the Frack?”, which was a direct protest against the fracking industry (In Australia “fracking” is better known as CSG or coal seam gas.)

Martinez has also delivered speeches to the United Nations about environmental policy and organised countless rallies and protests. In 2013, former US President Barack Obama presented him with a national community service award. Now, with President Trump at the helm of the free world, Martinez is even more determined to push for change.

“Donald Trump threatens a lot of the [environmental] action that has been taken over the last four to eight years. But I really don’t believe he is going to go through with all these things,” he told Hack.

“I hope that everything that Trump stands for is going to push people to fight harder than ever to resist.”

To learn more about Martinez and the Earth Guardians, check out their website.