Kids and Climate Change:
Working to save the planet
In a very real sense, our children will inherit the earth. Fortunately for the planet and its inhabitants, many teens take this legacy seriously, doing their best to be responsible stewards of the environment. Earth Day is April 22. While that day officially marked the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, for a good percentage of Gen Z, tending the earth is a year-round commitment.
Booker T. Washington senior Bella Koster is passionate about the environment. A few years ago, she completed the Climate Reality Program’s Leadership Corps Training. The program, founded by former Vice President Al Gore, works to empower individuals to become environmental activists through education and training and provides them with a network of like-minded people and organizations.
Tulsa high school student Bella Koster will be one of the speakers at the Tulsa Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 20, 1-7 p.m. at Guthrie Green
Koster participated in the program because she wanted to be more involved as an environmental advocate in her local community, but she didn’t think she had enough information or training to do so effectively. She returned from the experience with a renewed sense of responsibility.
“I had always deeply cared about the environment, but the conference really opened my eyes to the extent of the issue,” Koster says. “I didn’t realize how much of the world was so immediately affected by climate change, and the reality of the situation scared me. I realized how little I actually knew about climate change and that many people probably felt the same way. That realization inspired my desire to learn more about climate change and to educate others about this issue.”
Koster lives her beliefs and thinks small steps can make a big difference.
“Because we live in such a wasteful society, sometimes the idea of shifting to a more sustainable lifestyle seems difficult,” she says. “However, even just making small, seemingly insignificant changes in your everyday life can make a difference. For instance, turning off the lights every time you leave the house, taking shorter showers, reducing the amount of meat in your diet, consuming more locally sourced produce, eliminating your use of single use plastics, composting, recycling, and encouraging others to do the same, are just some of the ways that I and others can practice sustainability in our everyday lives.”
She’ll share her conservation message with a powerpoint presentation on climate change at Philbrook’s downtown location during Earth Day activities in the Tulsa Arts District on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m.
“Something I hope people can take away from my talk is the same feeling of responsibility I felt coming back from the Climate Reality Training in Denver. It’s important to acknowledge the immediate consequences of climate change and contribute to the solution,” Koster says. “I aim to inspire people to make more environmentally conscious decisions and to educate their friends and families about the importance of immediate climate action.”
Koster plans to continue her advocacy during college and beyond.
“It’s vitally important that youth get educated and involved in any way possible because we are the ones who will be left with a dying planet,” she explains. “Young people have the fundamental right to a clean planet, a right that is being violated for the sake of profits. Across the U.S., youth are suing corporations and the federal government for violating our rights to a clean world. These movements are continuing to gain momentum as more youth are becoming involved in the environmental movement.”
For more information on the Climate Reality Project, visit www.climaterealityproject.org.
Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
1. Turn off lights and appliances when you’re not using them.
2. Turn down your water heater. 120 degrees is sufficient.
3. Turn down the heat in your house.
4. Stream movies through your smart TV, not your game console.
5. Buy a laptop, not a desktop computer.
6. Use LED lights. They last longer and use up to 85 percent less energy.
7. Don’t set your fridge and freezer temperatures lower than necessary.
8. Replace old fridges.