Student Voice: Why we need climate education in our schools

By Ahona Dam, 10th Grader at Newton South High School –

Being a youth leader for the 4C Tree Project and a volunteer intern at Green Newton, I have learned a lot about city initiatives and the importance of trees in our environment. However, I don’t know if I would have been as aware of our planet or our community’s efforts had I not joined Green Newton.

We need climate education in our schools because education is one of the most important ways people can be more aware. I think it is important to explain climate change and its causes in a detailed way to ensure that students understand the rapid changes that are occurring on our planet. Every year in science class we briefly go over climate change however we barely spend a week learning about the causes and effects that climate change has on communities.

Climate education doesn’t have to only be taught in science classes. Climate change has affected so many people around the world and has left some as climate refugees. We can begin to learn more about this in history and understand how certain countries are dealing with climate refugees.

If students aren’t educated about the cause of climate change then they won’t understand how to combat it. With climate education, students will be prepared to have conversations with their parents/relatives and they will feel more comfortable to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. I believe that when there is a global problem, such as climate change, individuals have to be aware and educated in order to understand how to remedy the problem. To solve a problem, we must start small and focus on individuals, then communities, and finally focus on a national scale.

I definitely don’t know everything about climate change, however I want to be able to concretely
understand the science behind greenhouse gas emissions and learn about how climate change is affecting communities around the world. I want to know about specific innovations that have been created. I want to be part of the solution by educating myself on the problem and then take specific actions that will benefit my community.

This essay was presented at the May 10th, 2021 School Committee Meeting as a public comment. 

NNHS March for Climate and Racial Justice

Newton North High School students marched for Climate and Racial Justice on 10/17. The event was organized by the NNHS Climate Collective. Take a look at the report by Newton North TV.

The Climate Collective also created an online petition asking for Climate Justice for Newton

“To ensure the progression of our just, equitable, and sustainable vision for Newton, we ask that local leaders (Mayor Fuller, the city council, the school committee, etc.) meet with Climate Justice, antiracism, and social justice representatives on a recurring basis to review progress towards these goals. ”

 

Congrats to All Who Submitted Essays About “Students Taking Climate Action”

In February, Green Newton invited Newton high school students to write essays on the theme “Students Taking Climate Action” and they were asked to submit them to Green Newton by the end of Earth Week. We saw this as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns and inspire others to make a difference by suggesting solutions that can benefit our environment.

Three essays were chosen to be published:

In a raffle drawing, two students were chosen to each receive a $50 gift certificate from Green Newton to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice: Aidan Lieberman and Esther Zhang. 

Thank you to each of the students who participated in this Green Newton activity to honor our organization’s 30th Anniversary!

Cabot Woods, Spring 2020

Student Voice: Nature, Our Hope for Rehabilitation

After schools closed, cases continued to increase, and we remained confined to our homes. An end to the spreading madness that is COVID-19 seems to be nowhere in sight. However, looking out the window of my home, past an empty street and the quiet rain, a possible silver lining is visible on the horizon. Or in the atmosphere, to be exact.

According to The New York Times, “Air pollution (in the form of CO2 emissions) has dropped significantly over major metropolitan areas.” Newton is undergoing these changes as many of its residents work from home. The endless wait for a break in rush-hour traffic is now a solitary drive. Faced with the restrictions of self-quarantine and social distancing, we find ourselves devoid of casual excursions to the mall or a restaurant. In a way, the environment thanks us for those sacrifices.

Amidst the budding spring, nature and wildlife find solace, unencumbered by the heavy presence of machines and smog. In this short period of recovery, we have more time to appreciate the world around us by walking outdoors or gardening. These times prove that rehabilitation is more feasible if we can commit to cutting down emissions and saving the air we breathe.

Stillness is consequential, an indicator. We can tell a lot about a community based on how people move, and in these cautious times, the world seems to stand still. So in the future, when everything starts again, we should aim to balance industry and the environment. The good that preservation creates is immeasurable, especially when changes are irreversible. Therefore, we must remember the lesson nature teaches us now about the undeniable beauty of growth and recovery.

Newton students are invited to submit essays on the environment in honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary. Like Joyce’s essay, selected works will be published on the Green Newton and GN School Connections websites and in the Green Newton e-news. Click HERE for more information on how to submit and essay.

Student Voice: Small Actions, Big Changes

How does climate change impact lower economic communities?Climate change: the crisis that is not only hurting our Earth but also hurting people around us. It separates families and friends, forces and keeps people in poverty, and threatens our comfort and safety. The growing concern for climate change is greatly affecting people from all around the world. However, the consequences of climate change are creating an especially heavier burden for lower economic communities.As climate change continues to rapidly sweep the world, the chances of destructive natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and floods, also continue to increase. People of lower economic communities are at a great disadvantage, as they are less likely to have access to resources that can support them in times of dire need.Evacuating from homes after suffering from natural disasters is very costly, as the cost includes reliable transportation, safe shelter, food, water, and other necessities. As a result, many people of lower economic communities are forced to stay and risk their own safety during disasters, as they are unable to afford these things. In addition, the recovery process from natural disasters is not cheap. Rebuilding destroyed homes, cleaning up debris, and eliminating safety hazards in the house is not affordable to most; many people of low economic status are unable to access money for recovery, as many natural disaster recovery funds are targeted toward homeowners and higher-income communities.

This raises the question: what can we do to help people in these communities? We can all make conscious efforts to reduce waste, conserve energy, and consume less. Instead of throwing away your empty soda can in the trash, wash it out and recycle it. Opt for a five-minute shower instead of a ten-minute one: your small, thoughtful actions add up. If we all make a mindful effort to do our part for our environment, we can all make a big change to our environment and to lower economic communities.

Newton students are invited to submit essays on the environment in honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary. Like Esther’s essay, selected works will be published on the Green Newton and GN School Connections websites and in the Green Newton e-news. Click HERE for more information on how to submit and essay.

Earth Day 2020 Boston, by Newton South Students 03

Earth Day 2020 Boston, by Newton South Students

A promotion for Earth Day 2020 Boston by students from Newton South High School. Let’s  join them as we celebrate the start Earth Week tomorrow.

Earth Day 2020 Boston is being organized by a Newton South teacher, Michael Kozuch. The live event, Earth Day 2020 Boston Facebook Live Rally, is Saturday, April 18, and includes Marty Walsh, Jean-Luc Pierite, Reverend Rob Mark, Senator Ed Markey, City Councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell, Mass Sierra Club, Mass Audubon, musical performers and more.

Earth Day 2020 Boston Program

Student Voice: Lessons to Take on Climate Justice from the Coronavirus

By Elie Berman (Newton South), March 2020 – 

Coronavirus is creating fear from Newton, Massachusetts throughout the entire world. International communities are coming together to fight a pandemic. Coronavirus is affecting every country across the globe, and it draws an eerie parallel to climate change. So what could happen if the world banded together in the same way to fight it?

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is any situation where individuals selfishly take more than they need from a shared resource, depleting it, and hurting everyone. Walking into a Whole Foods on March 15, canned foods are gone and Clorox wipes fill the garbage can. Customers take more than they came for, fearing there may soon be nothing left. As they overstock their own cabinets, they steal from those who come in to buy their regular share but find every shelf empty. This is one example of the tragedy of the commons. Climate change is another.

Climate change disproportionately affects lower economic communities. While developed countries continue to pollute the air, fill landfills, and emit millions of pounds of CO2 every second, they are also the places less affected. Simultaneously, villages in developing countries are in drought or floods and don’t have the money or power to respond. Some people are displaced and others die.

Recently, the extent of our globalization has become exposed. Disease spreads rapidly, and loved ones phone from thousands of miles away. In reaction to coronavirus, countries mandate the closing of schools and businesses in order to respond to current needs and flatten the curve. Similarly, we need to care about the lower economic communities that are currently seeing the effects of climate change. We must also shift our daily lives, understanding that if we continue the way we are, those effects will soon be hitting everyone. Wherever you are: take fewer flights. Reuse what you already own. Take precautionary measures. You can fight two crises at once.

Newton students are invited to submit essays on the environment in honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary. Like Elie’s essay, selected works will be published on the Green Newton and GN School Connections websites and in the Green Newton e-news. Click HERE for more information on how to submit and essay.

Newton students are invited to submit an essay on “Students Take Climate Action”

In honor of Green Newton’s 30th Anniversary, we invite all high school students who live in Newton to write essays to voice their concerns and inspire others to make a difference by suggesting solutions that can benefit our environment.

The essay topic may be chosen from the list below or it can be an environmental topic of your choice. Students can write how they and others they know are learning to cope with the current challenges we face, while taking positive steps at home and in our community to conserve energy and protect our natural resources.  

Selected essays (300 words max) will be published on the Green Newton website, in our e-news bulletins, and on the GN School Connections website. Green Newton reviewers will determine on a weekly basis how many essays will be selected for publication.

There will be a raffle drawing on a date yet to be determined, in which all students who submit essays will be eligible to receive one of two $50 gift certificate prizes to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice.

How to submit the essay? Send it by email by April 27 to [email protected]. Please include a title, your full name, school and grade. 

For more information, please email us at [email protected] 

(Information updated on March 20, 2020)


SUGGESTED ESSAY TOPICS

  • How can an education in climate science impact your future career possibilities?
  • Write about the benefits of one of the goals in Newton’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Create testimony is support of a climate-related bill that is being considered in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Resources for legislative priority lists: Mass Power Forward, Mothers Out Front, 350, Our Climate, Sunrise, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, MassPIRG, MCAN)
  • Describe how the Sunrise Movement or Greta Thunberg has inspired you to get involved in Climate Action.
  • Write a review of a movie/book by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Al Gore or Rachel Carson and describe how it inspires you.
  • What are the most important steps for Newton residents to become more sustainable in their commutes to school, work and other locations?
  • What are the benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and is Massachusetts making progress in this transition?
  • How does climate change impact lower economic communities?
  • What are green building principles and how can they benefit proposed building projects in Newton?
  • What is pump technology and how is it being used in Newton’s homes?

Essay Competition: “Students Take Climate Action”

March 20 UPDATE: Instead of a competition, we are inviting students to write and be published on our websites. More on the update HERE

Green Newton invites all Newton high school students to enter our 30th Anniversary Celebration Essay Competition “Students Take Climate Action”. 

What is the competition? We are asking high school students to write an essay of up to 300 words related to student climate action in Newton or in the world. Suggested topics below. Students may also submit videos of up to 2 minutes that pertain to any of the topics. 

Who can enter? The competition is open to any Newton (MA) high school student in grades 9-12. Students can write individually or in teams of two. 

When is the competition? Entries should be submitted from February 24 through April 27, 2020. The chosen essays will be announced by May 18, 2020

What is the award? Two essays will be chosen to be read by students at our 30th Anniversary Celebration event at Lasell University on June 9. The essays will be published in the Green Newton and Green Newton School Connections websites and distributed to our members. 

Is there a prize? YES! Winners will  receive a $50 gift certificate each to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice.  Update: There will be a raffle drawing, in which all students who submit essays will be eligible to receive one of two $50 gift certificate prizes to use at a local shop or restaurant of their choice. 

How to submit the essay? Send it by email by April 27 to [email protected] . Please include a title, your full name, school and grade. 

For more information, please email us at [email protected] 


Suggested essay topics

  • How can an education in climate science impact your future career possibilities?
  • Write about the benefits of one of the goals in Newton’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Create testimony is support of a climate-related bill that is being considered in the Massachusetts Legislature. (Resources for legislative priority lists: Mass Power Forward, Mothers Out Front, 350, Our Climate, Sunrise, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, MassPIRG, MCAN)
  • Describe how the Sunrise Movement or Greta Thunberg has inspired you to get involved in Climate Action.
  • Write a review of a movie/book by Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Al Gore or Rachel Carson and describe how it inspires you.
  • What are the most important steps for Newton residents to become more sustainable in their commutes to school, work and other locations?
  • What are the benefits of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and is Massachusetts making progress in this transition?
  • How does climate change impact lower economic communities?
  • What are green building principles and how can they benefit proposed building projects in Newton?
  • What is pump technology and how is it being used in Newton’s homes?

Student Voice: “How the Climate Crisis has Affected NPS Students”

Public comment by Coral Lin (NNHS Class of 2021) –
School Committee Meeting, Jan 13, 2020

Hi, my name is Coral Lin and I’m a junior at Newton North. First of all, I would like to thank the effort and support from the School Committee and the School Sustainability Work Group to create sustainable standards for our schools. These are important steps that must be taken to tackle the climate crisis here in Newton and set an example for other school systems in the state and country.

Speaking of the climate crisis, I’d like to talk about how this emergency has affected Newton Public Schools students. For an English paper I wrote this fall, I asked my friends how hearing about the “climate crisis” makes them feel, and they told me that it made them feel hopeless, small, scared, overwhelmed, and “like death is upon me.” The other day, my friend at Newton South told me that she overheard a classmate saying, “It doesn’t matter anyways because we’re all going to die because of climate change”. 

My generation is increasingly anxious about the world’s future, but many feel paralyzed into inaction. Can we even blame young people for not wanting to take action against something they feel powerless to solve? Yet, we both have the solutions to solve climate change and also depend on young people to lead help this challenge. This problem could be solved if students were educated not only on the causes and effects of climate change, but how we can work together to find and implement solutions. I urge you to go home and think about how much you and your children, your nieces and nephews, and our Newton students truly know about climate change. Does it make you feel empowered to act, or discouraged? Please contemplate deeply while considering implementing comprehensive K-12 climate education in our schools. Thank you.