Friday, April 13, 2007
Eighth graders step up to stop global warming
"I would imagine a rally in Carlisle would look like many people trying to raise global awareness of a growing problem — global warming," Carlisle Public School eighth-grader Sofia Palmer writes. "I can imagine eighth graders speaking to the public about their interventions and how it will help to reduce carbon dioxide levels/emissions and having adults listen to them for once."
From imagination to reality — many of the eighth grade are actively planning for the "Carlisle Concerned" rally as part of Step It Up 2007, the National Day of Climate Action, to be held on the Town Common and in Union Hall on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (see the event schedule on page 20 or go to http://events.stepitup2007.org/events/show/797).
Sending Congress a message
The Carlisle Rally and over 1,300 similar events across the nation share one goal — to send Congress a unified message that carbon emissions must be cut by 80% by 2050. The urgency of the message and the timing of the rally are underscored by the ominous report issued on April 6 by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in which "scientists for the first time linked changes in nature on every continent and in most oceans to rising temperatures from greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, emitted by power plants, factories and cars."
"I think that it is terrific that one small town like Carlisle is concerned and is taking action about global warming," writes Shannon Laughlin. "If one small town can do this, then imagine what a whole city could do, imagine how much awareness it would bring."
"I hope that many people will participate in the Carlisle Rally because the more people are involved in this, the more the government will listen," adds eighth-grader Monica Diercks.
Global warming project
Under the leadership of eighth-grade teachers, Carlisle's middle schoolers have been studying the problem of global warming (or climate change) in an interdisciplinary project for the past several weeks. Classes in Science, Math, Social Studies and Language Arts all studied the human impact on global warming. The teachers asked them to evaluate one specific intervention strategy that should, in theory, reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The students were asked to weigh the intervention in political, social and economic terms as well as environmental results. They also made an iMovie in which they talk about the effects of climate change on locations special to them. In addition, the students are currently preparing their research on global warming interventions to present at the Eighth-Grade Eco Fair on Wednesday, April 25, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the school.
While the students were absorbed in their climate change project, some adults in Carlisle, equally concerned about the drastic effects of climate change and the need to raise community awareness, were planning a non-partisan rally as part of Step It Up 2007. The recently formed Carlisle Climate Action (CCA) held a planning meeting last month and invited the eighth-grade science teacher, Kathryn Marsh; two of her students, Cam Reid and David Yanofsky, also chose to attend. As a result, the rally became an intergenerational local effort to raise awareness and encourage Congress to act to reduce carbon emissions. Many more eighth-graders have now joined with the CCA adults in planning and co-hosting the rally.
"We are excited and honored that Carlisle students and faculty are partnering with Carlisle Climate Action for this event," said Mike Hanauer of CCA. "The students, along with Kathy Marsh, have often been the most caring and creative, easily overshadowing us adults. With so much imagination and action sprouting in our town, I think our future looks promising in spite of the challenges."
Imagine a rally . . .
Eighth-grade students have certainly responded with enthusiasm. As part of their global warming project, they were given a writing assignment, asking them how the Carlisle community would respond to a rally. They could address one of the following statements:
· I would imagine a rally in Carlisle to look like . . .
· I can see eighth graders participating in such a rally by . . .
· I hope that many families in Carlisle will participate in the rally because . . .
· I doubt that many families in Carlisle would participate in the rally because . .
The students' written essays are creative, thoughtful and insightful. Most responded to, "I hope that many families in Carlisle will participate in the rally because . . ." For example, Katie Platt replied, " . . . because it is going to show that even little towns are still going to help slow global warming . . . by recycling and using less electricity." Alexandra King-Shaw focused on family participation on April 14: "[One] reason for families to participate would be because all eighth-grade students have become experts on various interventions as a part of the global warming unit being done. It would be great for the families of each of the students to support and showcase their child's intervention." Jackson Forelli said, "It would be good for the community to be well-informed about global warming. I don't think nearly enough people know how bad the effects of global warming are going to be. . . Before this year I was aware of global warming, but I wasn't aware of how many glaciers were melting or how warm the temperatures are becoming. I think if everyone is well informed on the topic of global warming, then we could help stop it all together."
Some eighth graders, however, were skeptical about the value of a rally and doubted that many Carlisleans would attend. "I doubt whether many families in Carlisle would participate in the Carlisle rally because they aren't informed," wrote Drew Albano. "While many people hear bits and pieces about global warming on the news, I doubt that they have a real depiction. . . . People . . . have their priorities and global warming may not yet be one of them." Sloane Brazina took a practical approach, believing that many families "are very busy on Saturday between sports, extra-curricular activities, running errands, etc. I doubt very many families would be able to commit to such a rally." She offers some sound alternatives: "It would be more realistic to ask families in Carlisle to conserve electricity and fuel for the day by doing simple things such as eating by candlelight, lowering the thermostat and not frequently driving around if possible. Also, instead of only one event of this sort a year, it would be beneficial to plan days like this once a month so that there is a constant reminder that global warming is a real issue in our lives."
Students' contribution to the rally
This week eighth grade volunteers are hard at work after school making banners and posters, creating table displays (one display shows how much mass and volume of carbon dioxide comes from one gallon of gasoline), and planning to speak to attendees about the science and possible responses to help curb climate change.
The students hope that the adults in this community care as much as the eighth grade and will come to the rally on Saturday. After all, they are doing nothing less than saving the planet for their generation and those to come.
As Adeline Bakewell wrote in her essay, "If this rally convinces kids to take the bus to school, turn off lights, and to be careful about the amount they waste, the whole rally will be worth it. If someone buys an energy-conservative appliance based on what they learned at this rally, it will be worth it."
"The eighth graders are modeling what global citizenship and social action can be," concluded Kathryn Marsh. "The choice is now before the Carlisle community to 'Step It Up,' and follow in the footsteps of the many fine exemplars we are so proud of in eighth grade."
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito