Why Were There So Few Teachers at the Climate March?
On September 20th, an unprecedented 250,000 people gathered in Foley Square to protest against politicians’ inaction in regards to the climate crisis, united in their shared determination to see real change. As Packer students and faculty walked through the blocked off streets, chanting, shouting, laughing, and crying, many felt pangs of both fear and hope. As news reporters surrounded the sea of protesters with signs reading “believe science” and “not a hoax”, many knew that their voice was going to be heard. Many knew that they were making history.
The biggest theme at the march, however, was the sense of urgency that every person in the crowd felt.
Bella Pitman (‘21) said, “I’m here at the strike because climate change is the biggest social justice issue that is facing our country. There is no going back, so now is the time to act.” Kyra Silverstein (‘21) felt similarly, saying that because the government is simply not doing enough, it is in the hands of the youth to make real, tangible change.
Students and teachers alike walked out of school at 11 a.m., eager to make a difference. Over the past couple of years, Packer has made alterations to their sustainability practices like introducing composting and encouraging students to practice “sorting it out.” But some people in the community think that this is simply not enough.
Maria. Stutt, Upper School Math Teacher, hopes to improve on Packer’s existing sustainability initiatives because she does not think that we do well with the initiatives that we have already begun. She still sees people incorrectly “sorting it out.” Furthermore, she strongly believes that “Packer needs to renovate the cafeteria. We need to have reusable dishes, reusable utensils, reusable cups. We should not have plastic cups anywhere.”
Upper School Science Teacher Lutz Holzinger, believes that it is the school’s responsibility to further educate students about environmental issues so they can be more aware. Tamara. Machac, Upper School Science Teacher, agrees, saying that the environmental crisis “should be something that we continue to bring up.”
It is clear that the Packer community is striving to continue the momentum that many felt during the rally. So, the question to address now is how to continue the momentum that has been built.
Anna Simmons (‘20), one of the leaders of Earth Club said that “it is Earth Club’s job to keep the momentum going.” Although small actions like composting and recycling might seem like distractions, Anna thinks that “you need to practice being environmentally conscious every day.”
Liv Furman (‘20), another leader of Earth Club, said that to keep the energy, “they are looking for full engagement from the Packer community. [They are] hoping to do some collaborations [with other clubs] and have more conversations about environmental equity and environmental racism.”
Mr. Holzinger thinks that “there is almost nothing more important at the moment than to address this crisis, because it is so all-encompassing. It threatens your future, your children’s future. If you do not do anything, it will result in such extreme inequality for people who really did not contribute to this issue. Those people will suffer the most and first. And that is the outlook that we have based on science, not based on politicians, opinions, or activists, but science.”
He goes on to say we need to go further than just composting. “Talking about composting and recycling is almost a diversion that takes away from the real responsibilities we have and that the corporations have. The corporations, by condoning [composting and recycling], they have shifted the conversation away from themselves. We recycle the plastic, but why do we still produce plastic?”
Although it is crucial that people remain positive, there needs to be a certain amount of fear instilled in every member of society to inspire universal action. We must keep raising our voices in protest and lobby politicians to discontinue their routine apathy, because the fate of humanity lies in our hands. Mr. Holzinger asserts that “if we do not do anything about climate change soon, then there is no future for humans on this planet.”