No matter our age, back-to-school time brings the promise of new adventures, new learning and fresh starts. Here in Woodbridge, our children have the good fortune to attend Beecher Road School and Amity Middle and Senior High Schools, where they are taught the skills they will need to navigate the increasingly complex adult world that awaits them.
We celebrate these young people, our greatest blessings, and share in their wonder and excitement. We also recognize the burdens they carry and our responsibility to lighten them.
A 14-year-old’s recent op-ed on the climate crisis reminded me of this responsibility. (Commentary: Hey Adults: We’re counting on you to fight the climate crisis, www.timesunion.com August 12, 2022) The young author wrote, “I’m scared. In fact, I am … terrified….The fear – not of coming of age, but of the world I will come of age in – is far from uncommon among young people when it comes to the climate crisis. Last year, a study in The Lancet found that of 10,000 young people (16-25) in ten countries, over 45 percent said their feelings about climate change had a negative impact on their ‘daily life and functioning.’”
What can we adults do? The insightful young author went on to provide a call to action, “We rely on you to vote and run for office and urge others to do the same. We rely on you to pressure your local and federal authorities to take immediate, decisive action to drastically cut CO2 emissions while uplifting communities along the way. We rely on you to volunteer in activist groups or form your own. We rely on you to pressure your workplace into cutting its emissions and to invest in climate-friendly initiatives. We rely on you to act in inter-generational solidarity with us now.”
On the same day that this op-ed was published, Congress gave final approval to legislation that will direct billions of dollars to slowing global warming. The new law, passed along party lines and signed by President Biden, has been characterized as the “single largest federal investment in the fight against climate change.” (House Passes Sweeping Climate, Tax and Health Care Package, www.nytimes.com, August 12, 2022)
The benefits of the legislation are said to include slowdown in sea level rise; green retrofit of buildings, especially in urban centers; improved air quality and lower rates of respiratory illnesses; and bringing many more Americans into the clean energy economy thus providing greater political support for further action. (The climate future just changed, www.Bloombergbusiness.com, August 12, 2022.)
While I’m sure many people of all ages feel that the climate emergency demands more, there can be no doubt that we appear to be at a turning point in the recognition that there is a climate emergency and that it requires bold and effective action.
And we can build upon this milestone legislation right here by “greening” our homes, schools, and other public buildings, by taking on a conscious and continuous role in reducing our community’s energy consumption, and by ensuring that town and state leaders have our support in prioritizing climate change mitigation for our generation of Woodbridge residents and the many generations that will follow.