As scientists and politicians continue to debate solutions to global warming, Capital Region students are trying to address climate change right in their own communities. Our Matt Hunter reports.
MALTA, N.Y. – To many Capital Region high school students, climate change and global warming are topics they've heard about their entire lives.
“You are seeing it now, and we have been seeing it for 100 years," said Laura West, a senior at Ballston Spa High School. "There are natural disasters that are not natural. You are seeing people die and people lose their homes.”
"It really just encompasses this is a worldwide scale, which is why it is so important to everyone,” said Dane Andersen, a classmate of West’s.
On Tuesday and Wednesday at Hudson Valley Community College’s TEC-SMART campus in Malta, the earth's health and how to improve it were the focus of the second annual Capital Region Youth Climate Summit.
“The Youth Climate Summit is an event that helps students in the Capital Region get invigorated and inspired to do something about climate change in their own community,” said John Balet, a science teacher at Ballston Spa High School, which helped coordinate the event.
Inspired by climate summits at Tupper Lake’s Adirondack Wild Center, the entirely student-run event has attracted peers from numerous local high schools. After beginning with presentations from experts, attendants gather in small workshops that address various issues surrounding climate change.
“We have a lot of students that are very enthusiastic, but they don’t exactly have a goal in mind, and we want to give them that structure to bring back to their communities,” said Andersen, one of the primary student organizers.
Before the summit wraps up Wednesday, the students will develop climate action plans tailored to their own local communities. Educational on its surface, the event's primary goal is to make a difference.
"We have the ability to step up and really effect change,” Andersen said.
“We have very limited time,” said West, also a summit organizer. “This generation is the last generation that can make a difference."