Writer Mary Hiatt is a senior at the Columbus Signature Academy New Tech in Columbus, Indiana.
On September 16, 2022, student-led climate justice group Confront the Climate Crisis partnered with Earth Charter Indiana to host a climate policy conference at the Indiana Interchurch Center in Indianapolis. There were about 120 participants, nearly half of whom were high school students. [Disclosure: conference co-host Earth Charter Indiana is also the program sponsor for Youth Environmental Press Team.]
Many presenters shared their insights, including Guidon Design, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Citizens Action Coalition, and Indiana Forest Alliance. They tackled topics such as recycling building materials, reducing fossil fuel use in major manufacturing companies, sustainability within companies, and reducing energy use in buildings.
First speaker and moderator, Rahul Durai, a high school senior, co-founder and co-executive director of Confront the Climate Crisis, explained the purpose of the organization: The group includes students from dozens of Indiana schools working to address the climate emergency. The organization’s primary focus is to inform and educate the Indiana Legislature on climate issues.
These young advocates recognize that the global problem of climate change will only get better if people are actively working towards a solution. This includes addressing the causes of climate change, such as reducing carbon emissions from transport, energy and buildings. By working with Indiana stakeholders, the CTCC hopes to make a real difference.
CSA New Tech Jr. Breylin Stewart, who attended the conference, said: This is just one thing he wants the world around us to avoid. ”
question arises. What can you do? How long do we have until things get dramatically worse? When will people realize they can’t get out of here anymore?
Conferences that change the world
Sarah Mincey, managing director of IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute, spoke on Zoom about ERI’s efforts in Indiana. She said it is impossible to fully reverse the extent of the damage in our environment, but some can be reversed, she said.
“Indiana is getting warmer and wetter,” Minsey said. “The temperature is rising, the precipitation is increasing, and there are many problems.
Minshey emphasized that low-income communities are incapable of escaping the impacts of climate change. When human-made pollution affects low-income families and surrounding communities, it is impossible to achieve equality. This rapidly shifts from environmental concerns to addressing issues of political and economic justice as well.
In a presentation, Ben Inskeep of the Citizens Action Coalition explained how Indiana’s schools could greatly benefit from solar power. Inskeep has also facilitated the transition from traditional lighting to LED. So he emphasized not only renewable energy, but also energy efficiency.
Ahan Bhattacharyya, a third-year student at Terre Haute High School, also spoke at the conference. Last summer, Bhattacharyya worked as an intern for Hort Mayor Duke Bennett. Bhattacharyya was asked to write a report on the city’s recent greenhouse gas inventory, a precursor to the Climate Action Plan. Bhattacharyya presented the report and how it can help his city be more prepared for the climate change crisis.
Bridget Steele, environmental science teacher at CSA New Tech and mentor who has brought New Tech students to conferences, said, “If more people listened to us, You should be able to tell the difference.”
“We will continue to attend these events until we are physically unable,” said Savannah Steele, senior environmentalist at CSA New Tech.
Looking around the room, this writer saw many impressive students and supporters. It was a great opportunity to hear these people talk about very real concerns in our environment today.
All we can do is take action to mitigate the damage. If we take this seriously, we can reduce the damage we are causing.
CTCC’s Rahul Durai said, “We know Indiana can reverse its emissions and be a leader in pursuing climate change solutions. We are committed to working with people like you for Indiana’s future.” We are more excited than ever to continue working together!”
For more information on Confront the Climate Crisis, please visit our website.