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Attention On line Young Environmentalists

2010 November 2

By Wendy Dew

Climate change is a problem that is affecting people and the environment. In the U.S., our energy-related activities account for over 85 percent of our human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature at the Earth’s surface could increase from 3.2 to 7.2ºF above 1990 levels by the end of this century.

While adults tend to debate everything to the extreme, younger generations are taking the lead. Chloe Maxmin, now 18, formed the Climate Action Club at her high school to help residents of her rural town fight global warming. In two years, Chloe and club members established a “No Idling” policy on campus, installed smart strips and vending misers in school computer labs and on vending machines, and recycled 4,000 batteries and 20 pounds of cartridges in her hometown. The club recently won a $5,000 community impact award, which they are using to purchase solar panels for the school.

Most notably, Chloe’s club launched Maine’s largest student-led reusable bag campaign, which has kept 700,000 bags out of local landfills. The group raised $4,300 from fourteen businesses, purchased 1,900 reusable bags featuring sponsors’ names and logos, and then sold out of the bags soon after they began selling them. The project is ongoing and self-sustaining, with each year’s profits used to fund the next year’s batch of bags. The state’s largest supermarket chain recently came onboard to sell the bags. Additionally, Maine has launched a state-wide reusable bag campaign, using the Climate Action Club’s project as a model.

Chloe also started and maintains an online network of young environmentalists called First Here, Then Everywhere, which has spread to eight countries. Her mission: “ My personal mission it to make global warming the defining mission of my generation. My generation enters adulthood at a crucial point in the history of humanity. We are the first to see the devastating effects of climate change. The responsibility to mitigate global warming, change human behavior, and save our world will fall to us. “

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 14 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 2, 2010

    Dear Chloe,
    Histories told to us religions could make the people in the world fanatics to do its doctrine and have made greatest constellation among them with various conflicts. I think, global warming issues could make them to unite in prayer saving the world, include your personal mission. Now, its time to do that. Good luck Chloe !!!

  2. Carrie W. permalink
    November 5, 2010

    It is always refreshing to hear younger people embracing ideas that my generation has only slowly adopted.

  3. J Kleine permalink
    November 16, 2010

    I definitely agree. Climate change is the main global problem that my generation will be held responsible for solving. Chloe’s initiative to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change is truly inspiring and helps prove the fact that one person’s actions really can make a difference to change the world for the better. Also a young environmental advocate, I am constantly encouraging my friends and family to reduce their carbon footprint, improve their recycling habits, and try to promote general sustainable/environmental awareness. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions will be a critical obligation for my generation in order to ensure the sustainability of the precious ecosystems we each depend on and future generations will depend on.

    For example, marine ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to the harmful effects of climate change, particularly from anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Oceanic ecosystems will face the threat of CO2 emissions long after we figure out how to curb these emissions because the oceans absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, which takes time. Basically, if humans completely stopped emitting CO2 into the air today, the ocean would still continue to absorb CO2 for many decades in order to establish equilibrium between the atmosphere and the ocean. This raises much concern for aquatic life because as the ocean absorbs more CO2, it becomes increasingly acidic, making it increasingly difficult for vital ecosystems, such as coral reefs, to thrive. I read an article in the Washington Post yesterday about stranded dolphins and whales, and one of the potential factors causing them to become stranded incorporated the recent significant increase in the rate of ocean acidification. As the ocean becomes more acidic, the ability for sound to travel through the water improves, causing anthropogenic ocean noise (from ocean liners, oil drilling, naval sonar, etc.)to be heightened, which adversely affects animals that rely on echolocation (e.g. the dolphins and whales).

    Evidently, there are so many consequences associated with climate change, not just an increase in global temperatures. Although the multitude of harmful effects may seem overwhelming at times, it also reveals that any effort a person puts in to practicing environmentally friendly habits will have just as many significant, beneficial implications for the improvement of our world.

  4. global warming permalink
    April 20, 2011

    l agree with this

    It is always refreshing to hear younger people embracing ideas that my generation has only slowly adopted.

  5. global warming permalink
    April 20, 2011

    l agree with this
    It is always refreshing to hear younger people embracing ideas that my generation has only slowly adopted.

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