Friday climate strikes have brought hundreds of Berkeley High School (BHS) students to the streets of San Francisco to chant and protest, waving colored signs and making a united call for change. Known for being very climate conscious and knowledgeable about climate change, BHS has many strong activist leaders who inform the student body to the best of their abilities.
Though the administration at BHS has tried to reflect, respect, and encourage this, few students actually know what Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) is doing in the name of sustainability. Although BHS is working to be as climate-friendly as possible, they are not working as hard as they should be to educate students on climate change.
Climate change is an extremely important issue to students at BHS. Teens are worried for their future and trying to act now before it’s too late. The use of fossil fuels on a scale much larger than the individual is changing this earth in a way that scares those who wish to protect it. There are multiple clubs that do amazing activism with climate change at BHS. The Climate Sleuth Education Project, BHS Green Team, and Sunrise BHS all work to educate others and lead projects.
BUSD is currently conducting many projects across BHS to make schools more environmentally friendly. At BHS, the district is designing and planning net zero energy buildings, which would increase the use of solar energy and make the campus more sustainable, according to John Calise, the executive director of the BUSD Facilities Department. BUSD still uses PG&E as its power provider, but there are alternatives — such as East Bay Community Energy — which use solar and wind power instead. BUSD is willing to consider alternative power sources, and this may become necessary in the future.
Although BHS has educated its students on climate change to a certain degree, the issue is not prioritized in the way it should be. In science classes, we learn about the science behind climate change and global warming. However, we do not learn about climate politics, what is happening at this point in time, or how to combat it. In the past, BHS addressed this by creating a small school called Green Academy or having sustainable energy and environmental science pathways. Although Green Academy was only open to juniors and seniors, it used to have 285 students, making it the second largest small school at BHS, until it closed down in 2015. Now, once more, BHS lacks proper climate change education.
To take the place of Green Academy, BHS should create a class that focuses solely on climate change. It would educate students on the science behind climate change, how we got to the point we are at now, the laws surrounding it, what people are doing about it, and what infrastructure is needed to fix it. These few topics would be extremely beneficial to BHS students, no matter what field they want to go into after their high school education.
At BHS, we have so many amazing climate activists, but the administration can’t sit back and let students do all the work in fighting climate change. We need education on climate change and green practices on every level. With the help of climate change classes and a larger amount of money put into sustainable energy, BHS will be able to fully live up to the climate activism reputation it holds so proudly.