Students press climate change battle

Seeking to encourage local and state political candidates to use the power of an elected office to help combat climate change, the San Benito High School Outdoor Club has drafted a letter encouraging these politicians to take action that reflects the necessity to protect the environment.

During a lunchtime meeting on Oct. 23, Outdoor Club Co-Presidents Ian Sills and Shelby O’Neil and Advisor Donald “Chip” Gauvreau, reviewed the letter with club members and asked them to add their signatures to it prior to its distribution to politicians.

The letter begins, “Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election, as a collective and club of diverse and concerned high school students, we hope that your actions, whether legislative or personal, will reflect the necessity of combating climate change and protecting the environment.”

Referencing the impacts of climate change on nature, weather and animal species, the letter says “it is imperative that our legislatures and representatives take action across all levels of government to stop accelerating our societies movement toward irreversible climate change.”

Sills said the letter was drafted with the hope that politicians “will support environmental awareness and action.”

Gauvreau, noting that none of the club members reviewing the letter are of voting age, told them that the reputation that their generation has of apathy and being overly concerned with how many “likes” an Instagram post has is not representative of the students with whom he interacts on campus.

“It’s just not true and we see it as educators here that there are plenty of people out there that are passionate,” he said. “We saw what happened in Parkland, Florida where that horrible shooting happened. Instead of just sitting back and complaining about it, those students got involved and they’re trying to change the planet.”

Gauvreau praised Sills and O’Neil for drafting the letter and told the club members that “You guys have tools that my generation never had — the power of social media, the power of getting a message out there — stuff that you guys can do to make a difference. As an educator, that’s what I want to see.”

He said that what “makes me the happiest is that I have a little girl and I’m happy to go to the beach and realize that there are people out there that are fighting for environmental situations. The planet that I give to her and her kids in the future is going to be equally as awesome as the stuff that we can enjoy today.”

With Santa Cruz and Monterey less than an hour away, Gauvreau noted that “it’s insane how beautiful the stuff is here and you guys are fighting for it. This is where it starts. It might seem like just a letter, but it’s about making those connections and who you talk to. It’s about getting your voices heard. It gets going here and people find out about it.”

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