Greenhouse effect: Hoax or science?

LAKE REGION MIDDLE SCHOOL science students, (left to right) Aisley Sturk, Isabelle Davis-White and Lindsey Keenan, all 14 years old, hold signs on the Naples Causeway. Although the turnout was much smaller than the People’s Climate March in New York City, the students said it was important to educate others about the Greenhouse Effect as well as convincing others to lower their individual carbon footprints. (De Busk Photo)

LAKE REGION MIDDLE SCHOOL science students, (left to right) Aisley Sturk, Isabelle Davis-White and Lindsey Keenan, all 14 years old, hold signs on the Naples Causeway. Although the turnout was much smaller than the People’s Climate March in New York City, the students said it was important to educate others about the Greenhouse Effect as well as convincing others to lower their individual carbon footprints. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — In K Bolduc’s science class, Lake Region High School (LRHS) students are learning about the Greenhouse Effect (Joseph Fourier, 1824) and ways to lower their carbon footprints.

The curriculum is part of an eight-week course on environmental science, and includes a discussion on the connection between increased carbon dioxide in the air and water quality by Lakes Environmental Association, according to Bolduc.

Last week, the students watched the documentary, “Disruption,” which outlined the countdown to a mass-gathering peaceful protest against continuing climate change, Bolduc said.

The organized march was planned to precede the gathering of the United Nations at its New York headquarters for a summit on the climate. That takes place this week, and Bolduc said her students will follow the meeting and talk about the outcomes from that U.N. summit.

On Sunday, while 400,000 individuals from all over the United States participated in the People’s Climate March in New York City, some of Bolduc’s students took part in smaller, quieter rallies in Naples and Bridgton.

Three of those students held posters while standing on the boardwalk of the Naples Causeway. Aisley Sturk, Isabelle Davis-White and Lindsey Keenan, all 14 years old, talked about why they were doing this on a Sunday.

“We are learning about the Greenhouse Effect now, and this is connected,” said Sturk.

Earlier in the week, the students had seen “Disruption,” which discussed the Keeling Curve, a measure of CO2 in the atmosphere. (Charles Keeling was a scientist who, in 1959, measured CO2 levels in the carbon cycle.) The documentary not only outlined plans for the People’s Climate March in New York and other parts of the world, but it also connected a series of weather-related events to an elevation in the earth’s temperature.

“It wasn’t depressing. But, it was frustrating. I wish people before us had worked harder” to lower carbon emissions and seek alternative forms of energy, Sturk said.

“It was sad to see what was happening around the world,” Keenan said.

The students said they felt that their rally was for the humans and the animals on the earth, and also for keeping the earth’s temperature hospitable for mankind to live.

Sturk said the rallies are for both the planet and the people on the planet.

“If we don’t have the earth, then we don’t have a place to live,” she said.

In a later interview on Tuesday night, LRHS teacher Bolduc said, “One of my students who I was talking to today said, ‘It didn’t scare me because it is going to happen anyway no matter what we do.’”

“I said, ‘But that world is not going to be conducive to the human race,’ ” she said, adding that changes could be made to slow or prevent the global warming that occurs when greenhouse gases are unable to escape the atmopshere.

Sturk and her peers said they could envision a society that relied less on carbon-based energy, but for now it is a wish list.

“I wish we had more sidewalks. I wish we had more electric cars on the roads, even though they are expensive now,” Sturk said.

“But, it is important to be bringing awareness, having people know what is going on,” she said.

Every step toward reducing one’s carbon footprint is a good start, she said.

“If everyone stopped using as much energy like lowering the heat and wearing extra layers when you get cold,” Sturk said.

About five years ago while teaching Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science, Bolduc came to the conclusion that it was vital to walk the talk when it comes to tackling climate change.

“We figured out our carbon footprint. We compared them, and mine was so much higher. I do live in a big house. I cannot, in my right mind, teach environmental science and have such a big carbon footprint,” Bolduc said.

So, she installed a solar hot water heater, new insulated windows and doors, and a wood pellet stove which heats the first floor. She received a $4,000 reimbursement in federal money for making those energy friendly changes to her home. Bolduc also traded in the family’s mini-van for a hybrid vehicle.

In the classroom this year, the students had just start to discuss information about the Greenhouse Effect. “We talked about sea level rising and predicted what would happen if it rose 10 feet. By the end of the conversation, I asked them what needs to happen now and we talked about what they could do,” she said.

“The kids shared who has pellet stoves. We talked about what are things that people can do such as car pooling,” she said.

“We certainly talked about the Keeling Curve and what things were like in the 1800s when there were 271 parts per million of CO2 compared to almost 400 now,” she said.

“Humans have put in 25 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere,” she said.

The four students who showed up on the Naples Causeway mentioned that humans were responsible for one-quarter of the CO2 in the atmosphere.

They could not predict an outcome for the U.N. summit, but they did say that they believed world leaders could create the changes that people are demanding.

Emily St. John, another LRHS student who joined the three girls in the early afternoon agreed.

“The politicians need to chip in,” St. John said.

Bolduc said some of her students were slightly disappointed or less likely to stay for long because of the small turnout.

“They were hoping for a crowd. But, they were excited to do that and they made some impressive posters,” she said.

“Individually (our role) is to educate others with our signs and our voices. Students have a huge voice,” she said.

The community listens to the youth, and hopefully the U.N. delegation will take heed of the messages of those who turned out for the rallies and marches, she said.

 

 

 

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