“We are the generation that will bear the burden of our federal government’s inaction on climate change. Please speak up for us!”
“We have the technology and the scientific understanding to solve this climate crisis. We know that acting sooner, rather than later makes economic sense. All that we lack is political will. Your voices can help generate political will to solve climate change. Please speak up!”
At school board meetings across Sonoma County, young supporters of the Schools for Climate Action campaign have been breaking the silence about climate change and generational climate justice. Having seen first hand how a climate-related disaster harms children and school communities, seven local school boards have responded by passing strong climate action resolutions. (We expect at least fifteen more resolutions in the coming months, including several from across the state and one each from Ohio and Colorado.)
These resolutions declare climate change a children’s issue or a human rights and “generational justice” issue. They call on all elected leaders and institutions to take action to protect current and future students. In addition, most of these resolutions also propose “bipartisan carbon pricing” as a policy solution. Finally, most climate action resolutions create district climate change committees charged with making follow-up recommendations for ways school districts can orient the institution towards solving climate change, including ongoing engagement or “non-partisan advocacy” with local, state, and federal jurisdictions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We expect a dozen more school districts to pass climate action resolutions the coming months.
Over the next year, we expect that hundreds or thousands more school communities across the country will follow Sonoma County’s lead and speak with one, organized, respectful, and patriotic voice calling on all elected leaders to take climate action now. This resounding cry from the educational sector across the country will help break the logjam on common sense climate policy in DC.
Climate change is a challenging issue. But, we have greatness in us and we can meet this great challenge as a nation. School communities are well-poised to call out the best in us as a people and to remind all of us---elders and youth---of the proudest moments from our collective heritage. A look back at history suggests that our nation has faced some of humanity’s greatest problems head-on with courage, grit, ingenuity, and action.
Let’s not betray this proud heritage, our American values, nor our own precious children and future generations by running away from this problem of climate change. Let’s not abide by leaders, at any level, who by their actions, distractions, or by their silence would lead the American people to also run away. We are better than that. Let us, all Americans, act on our greatness and unite behind the challenge of leading the world to address climate change.
We already have the policy tools (bi-partisan carbon pricing) and the technology to wean our economy off fossil fuels. We already know that dealing with this issue sooner rather than later will save trillions of dollars in the long run. There are already leaders in both parties---Republicans and Democrats---who want to enact common sense climate solutions. All that we lack to get this done is the clear public expression of political will. We, Americans, need to clearly tell our elected leaders at every level that this issue is of utmost importance to us. We do not have to wait two years to vote in order to express our political will for climate action. Every month, in every community, you can speak directly to local elected leaders at school board meetings.
School board members, 90,000 strong across the country, are the only elected leaders with a singular focus on the well-being and future success of young people. They have significant standing to speak up on this issue. When we started our campaign, we could only find 20 of the 90,000 who had officially gone on record speaking up for climate action to protect the students for whom they work so hard. Now, thanks to Schools for Climate Action school board resolutions, there are 55 board members who have officially spoken up. With your help and with the help of active, empowered youth, tens of thousands school board members more may join Sonoma county’s courageous and bold educational leaders. Please join our Earth Day Speak Up 2018 campaign. Visit our website and join our mailing list. Help us show the nation’s school communities the path Sonoma county school boards have blazed. Help us speak up for climate action to protect young people and future generations. We know that if we act quickly and boldly, we can still prevent significant harm to generations of children in our own communities, across our great nation, and across the world.
Park Guthrie is the co-founder of Schools for Climate Action.