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Schools Play a Role in Growing Climate Change Awareness

Climate change is becoming more and more relevant to the state of Maine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over the last century, Maine’s temperature has risen by twice as much as the other 48 continental states. Climate change will affect our beaches, the fishing industry, the skiing industry, and many others. In order to solve the problem, people must fully understand it. Therefore, climate change should be emphasized more in the education system.

Being able to personally relate to a topic makes a person more likely to care. When talking about climate change, “global” is too broad of a term. Thinking of climate change as a local problem makes it much more intimate. If an issue is happening in your backyard, you want it to be solved. Maine is a vacation destination for many tourists, especially along the coast and on the beaches. Cities all over the United States have already seen a decrease in the size of their beaches. According to an article in July’s National Geographic, in less than 20 years, 170 communities in America will be affected by uncontrollable flooding. Seth Koenig, in the Bangor Daily News blog, “ThinkMaine,” predicted that by 2050, a two foot sea level rise will do $33 million in damage to the downtown Portland area.

Erratic weather patterns will also affect the fishing industry. Maine is well-known for our lobsters. However, according to a 2016 Press Herald article, lobsters are migrating to cooler water along the coast of Canada, meaning less local lobsters to eat, and less revenue for Maine fishermen.

If you enjoy skiing, you may have noticed the shortening of the season; extreme weather conditions have also affected how much snow has fallen. Last winter the total precipitation was above average, according to the Bangor Daily News, but most of it was rain. Northern Maine received only about 60 to 80 percent of the average snowfall. During milder winters, resorts are forced to make snow, increasing the price of skiing. Climate change will impact the activities that we can do in Maine.

Those that are skeptical of climate change often do not understand the science behind it. The process and effects of climate change need to be explained in a way that everyone can understand. In my own science class, my teacher had many labs that revolved around solutions to climate change.

I know from experience that it is a lot easier to solve a problem if I know all the factors that are involved. Hands on learning can help students fully grasp the concepts and apply them to everyday life. Scientific studies have proven that hands on learning will help students retain information more easily. If students comprehend the information, and it is presented in a way that applies to their everyday lives, they will be more motivated to take action. Unfortunately, according to Change the Equation, 48 percent of Maine eighth grade science teachers did not major in a science in college. We need to educate the teachers just as much as their students.

I interviewed several people, ranging in ages about 15 to 50, in the downtown Portland area. Participants around the age of 50 did not find climate change to be an immediate issue for them, or they did not know how it would affect them. Around two-thirds of the participants said that they were educated on climate change in school, but they either did not remember facts about it, or would not consider themselves knowledgeable about it. Ongoing education for adults out of school is also incredibly vital. Those who believe in and understand climate change should encourage their government leaders to provide funding for advertisements in the newspaper, online, or on television.

Mainers value their ability to get out and relish some of the finest beaches, seafood, and skiing offered in the United States. We have millions of tourists visiting our state annually to experience these traditions. Each industry helps contribute to Maine’s economy. I still have hope in saving Maine traditions for future generations to come. In order to reduce carbon emissions, that contribute to climate change, we can carpool, walk, or ride our bikes. We can use cleaner ways to get electricity, such as solar panels or wind turbines. Even something as simple as switching to LED bulbs will help reduce pollution. The time to make a difference is now.

City DuDevoir is a student at Cheverus Academy. She produced this piece as part of the 2017 Raise Your Voice Workshop in Portland, sponsored by Maine Public and the Maine Writing Project.

Outmoded Waltz by Podington Bear is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.