HomeEnvironmentShifting dynamic of climate-conscious students emerges at CHS

Shifting dynamic of climate-conscious students emerges at CHS


Students from Carmel Unified School District have been immersed in a world conscious of climate change and the impact it will have on their futures. Because of this, students engage in a wide range of commitments which prove their dedication to being a contributing member of stopping climate change.

In the worldwide Future of Humanity Survey, 41 percent of the 10,000 Gen Z respondents stated global warming as the most pressing issue facing the world, and locally they have not failed to react whether they identify themselves as environmentalists or not.

“I have seen a shift in students’ desires to engage in the issue not only with other students, but also with their families that wasn’t there 10-12 years ago,” says Carmel High School science teacher Jason Maas-Baldwin. “I think that this shift at the high school has merely reflected a shift going on at the national and global level. Yes, we had earth days and earth weeks for the past 50 years, but there was never this focus on climate that has come with the younger generation through activism and politics.”

Quinn Cotter is a junior who moved to the Carmel Unified School District from Chicago during her sophomore year. While in Chicago, Cotter felt limited on how to make a difference, but after engaging in the community and taking the AP Environmental Science course offered, those feelings began to fade.

“One the things I have tried to stop doing is buying fast fashion and instead thrifting for my clothes,” Cotter explains. “It’s popular, trendy, inexpensive and second-hand, so why not take advantage of it?”

Cotter struggled with the concept that her own actions are not going to be the reason planet Earth is saved, but since then she has realized that it is not about what she cannot do, but rather what she can. Even if it is as simple as thrifting.

The Pulse Fashion Industry is published by Global Fashion Agenda reported that fashion generates 4 percent of the world’s waste each year which is equivalent to 92 million tons annually.

“My friends and I share all our clothes,” senior Emma Crabbe says. “And we deliberately do it because it helps us not waste on a vast amount of new clothes.”

Other students, such as senior Sam Rauh, decide to take a more directly related commitment to being as noncontributory to its increase as possible, with the ultimate goal of decreasing the rate of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, transportation between cars and trucks in the United States make up for one-fifth of all U.S. emissions, emitting 24 pounds of CO2 and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. For this reason, students are making choices, like Rauh’s, to burn less fuel. One of the ways is walking to school.

“If I can limit my footprint in anyway then that’s a win, and not idling is one of the easiest ways to do that,” Rauh informs. “My love for nature outweighs any mild temperature changes that idling your car would ‘save’ you from.”

Junior Ivor Myers and his younger brother Eliot Myers, a freshman, are Carmel-by-the-Sea natives who have recently decided to make the walk up Ocean Avenue on their way to school instead of driving. Despite chilly morning temperatures, the brothers, along with a big group of students can be seen making the trek every morning.

“Honestly, I hate doing it,” Myers jokingly says. “But if it’s beneficial toward the environment, I am willing to, and on the bright side, it really wakes me up for the start of school.”

Another popular way of engaging in the fight against climate change is diet adjustment or students and their families simply paying attention to where their food comes from and how it is packaged.

“My mom and I limit eating red meat to one day a week after we looked into just how detrimental it can be to the environment,” freshman Alana Witt Miller says. “We do it for the environment specifically.”

Similar to Witt Miller, junior Ry Champagne embraces shifts in regard to his diet. In fact, his parents run a vegetarian restaurant so he had never really thought of adjusting aspects of what he eats for the climate until this year.

“I just tried to buy stuff with less packaging because there is nowhere else for that to go besides the landfill,” Champagne says. By beginning to pay more attention to how his food was being handed to him, he was also able to notice a pattern. “Pretty much the more packaging, the worse it is for you and for the environment. I just started thinking about it more and more, and now I have this habit that I just feel crappy about breaking.”

Siblings Reagan and Jared Bethea made a family commitment to dropping single-use plastics and non-reusable lunch bags or containers, claiming it was an easy, simple switch. Photo by ALICIA KRUEGER

These students are representatives of a larger population of Carmel High School who have made a dedicated, conscious choice to doing what they can to contribute to doing something about the problem.

“A decade ago, the problem just seemed farther off in the future,” explains Maas-Baldwin in a discussion about what he notices in the classroom. “Students are now waking up to the reality that this is their future.”

To many students, being apathetic is not an option anymore.

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