Nathan Hale Climate Action Day
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
On April 2, UW EcoCAR was invited to speak on climate change and the future of the auto industry at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle (the alma mater of a number of EcoCAR team members). Two weeks after the school strike for climate that saw 1.4 million students worldwide strike from school to demand action on climate change, Nathan Hale students organized their own Climate Day of Action. All classes for the day were replaced with a series of speakers and seminars on topics such as saving Puget Sound’s resident orca whales, being an effective climate activist, and the intersection of race, gender, class, and climate change. We were honored to be asked to speak alongside scientists and activists like Bob Bindschadler from NASA (who is also a UW alumnus), Zarna Joshi from Zero Hour, and Michael Foster, who recently spent 6 months in prison for trespassing charges incurred protesting the controversial Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota.
The importance of youth activists working on climate change is insurmountable. One of the loudest voices in the fight against climate change is 16-year-old Swedish activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Greta Thunberg. Thunberg’s protests began in October of 2018 and since then she has struck from school outside of the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) in Stockholm every Friday since. Her strikes were the catalyst for the international school strike in March as well as the Fridays For Future movement which encourages students to strike from school every friday as she has. Greta Thunberg’s activism had a heavy impact on the students during the event at Nathan Hale. Her TED Talk played in the closing assembly, making myself and many other audience members emotional. Watching students get passionate about the most important issue of not only their generation, but all future generations. So inspiring, that I cried in the closing assembly and gave all the money in my wallet to a fund that will to plant trees high above where sea levels could rise to.
The entire event was planned by students with help from a group of dedicated educators. Nathan Hale seniors Hannah Griffith and Althea Erickson planned the Climate Day of Action as a senior project and as someone who has participated in a number of senior projects at Nathan Hale, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen one so well thought out and executed. We would like to thank all of the incredible people who made this event possible, Hannah and Althea, all of the teachers who disrupted their teaching plans to lead seminars and tackle this important issue, and especially physics teacher Karl Englert who was a huge part of the planning process and the person who invited us to speak.
For more information on youth climate action opportunities visit fridaysforfuture.org and Plant for the Planet. If you’d like further information on Nathan Hale’s Climate Day of Action check out Nathan Hale’s student newspaper, The Sentinel at halesentinel.org.