Congressman Eric Swalwell shared strategies for confronting climate change with students during the first Youth Environmental Action Summit of the Tri-Valley on Sept. 7 in Pleasanton.
The Democrat from Livermore told a crowd of more than 40 at Amador Valley High School that he likes to call it climate chaos, instead of climate change. It better conveys the urgency of the problem.
“How much you are going to feel and be able to live with the consequences, (depends on) decisions other leaders make today,” he said. “Where you can make the most change is where we take personal responsibility to care about everyone and everything around us.”
Swalwell encouraged the teens to look into internships or job shadowing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories or businesses where investing in a solution will make more money than deepening the problem. He suggested they work in ways that connect with jobs, especially in disconnected communities.
“There is an urgent need to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We don’t have a choice,” the congressman said. “All the signs in the world suggest we have about 12 years before the effects are irreversible.”
Author and climate activist Dan Linehan told students that informed involvement can influence climate change decisions.
“Find your path to make a positive change,” he said.
Students also were given a number of workshop sessions from which to choose during the summit. Topics included climate change’s effect on health, sustainable food, effective leadership and lobbying, green transportation and watershed stewardship.
Granada High School senior Ollie Sears said she came to find out what difference she could make in climate change and waste reduction.
After each session, students were debriefed on important take-aways and the next steps to take action.
Brayden Ye, an eighth-grader at Pleasanton Middle School, said that he came to learn more about the environment and protecting the planet.
A young activists panel shared their experiences with the group. Students left the summit with new contacts and tools to help them with their action projects during the school year.
“The future is in your hands,” Swalwell said. “Take this challenge on.”