Environmental club takes on climate change

Former VT governor talks about club’s role in making a global impact

On Thursday, Feb. 7, former Vermont governor Peter Shumlin spoke to Environmental club about climate change, environmental policies, and the importance of immediate action to save the planet.

Students and teachers were able to ask questions about climate change and how individuals can make a difference. Shumlin emphasized the huge responsibility of coming generations to handle climate change but said that he thought young people are up to the task.

“Climate change is the most important issue we’re facing,” said Shumlin. “You’re our only hope.”
Shumlin saw the effects of climate change firsthand while dealing with the destruction of Hurricane Irene in Vermont in 2011.

Shumlin made protecting the environment a priority throughout his three terms as governor from 2011-2017.

Under his leadership, Vermont decreased power rates for four out of six years, increased the amount of wind power 22 times over and increased solar power by over 100 percent.

Junior Will Kincaid, a co-head for Environmental Club, explained that Shumlin has been going to high schools around the country to talk about climate change and education, and many members of the club were excited that he was able to visit NT.

“Because we live in the Midwest, we don’t see the big effects of climate change and a lot of people here don’t think of it as a big problem. Recently we’ve had a 100 degree temperature change over the span of two days. It’s becoming a bigger problem, and it’s not something you can ignore.”

Climate change is an enormous global issue that continues to be ignored despite its increasingly visible effects.

According to a 2018 UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming will inflict irreversible damage to ecosystems, wildlife, and coastal cities unless emissions are radically reduced.

The Environmental Club has been working to fight climate change by advocating to make school more green.

The club’s most well-known initiative was the Nalgene project in 2016, where all students received Trevian water bottles in an effort to reduce waste produced by plastic bottles sold in the cafeteria. Will Kincaid and senior Stella Cook have lead the club since 2017.

The club continues to be active in making the school more eco-friendly, most recently advocating for composting, replacing plastic utensils in the cafeteria with a greener alternative, and encouraging thrift shopping. Environmental club may also partner with Go Green Wilmette to clean local beaches during the spring.

Co-heads and members of the club were excited that Shumlin was able to speak here to encourage action. Junior Kathryn Hemmer saw Shumlin speak with her biology class and appreciated that his message was aimed specifically towards students.

“Shumlin’s emphasis on the importance of youth action was extremely impactful and relevant,” said Hemmer. “It felt fitting that we went as a biology class, since we have discussed ways to be more environmentally friendly.”

Shumlin has talked at high schools around the country to promote education on climate change and inspire action before it’s too late. He talked about various travel and education programs for students focused around climate change through his family’s business, Putney Student Travel.

Shumlin has created the Governor’s Leadership Initiative which includes travel programs for teens that want to get involved in fighting climate change.

While promoting these programs, Shumlin encouraged action in any capacity, locally or otherwise.

“You can do anything that comes into your head,” said Shumlin. “Doing nothing is not an option, and we’ve been doing nothing for too long. You’re our hope and you’re our future, but you are the first generation born to this earth with this responsibility.”

Students interested in fighting against climate change are welcome to go to Environmental Club on Mondays after school in room W355.

“People are always saying ‘whatever I do isn’t going to impact climate change overall. If everyone has that mentality nothing is going to get done” said Kincaid. “We need individual people working against climate change if we’re going to save the planet.”