Camden students demand action on climate change

The Camden Herald
Camden students demand action on climate change
Local students participate in global Climate Strike
By Daniel Dunkle and Morgan Brooke | Mar 15, 2019

CAMDEN — About 20 students from Watershed School and Camden Hills Regional High School marched through the streets of Camden waving protest signs Friday, March 15, as part of a movement of young people around the world demanding action on climate change.

The students marched to the municipal offices for the town of Camden, brandished their signs and chanted outside the Town Office. They then went inside to confront Town Manager Audra Caler­Bell and Select Board members Alison McKellar and Taylor Benzie, demanding that action be taken now.

Specifically, the students would like to see enough solar panels installed at Sagamore Farms to provide up to 40 percent of the power needs of the town government. The students joined young people around the world, noting that youth are concerned that they and their children will experience the negative fallout from global climate change. They made the point that they are tired of waiting, arguing for a stronger sense of urgency on the issue.

The march took place at noon.

Town officials pointed out that they have been working with the town's Energy Committee on initiatives including replacing old streetlights with LED lights that save energy, and they are even looking at the possibility of using hybrid vehicles for police cruisers. Watershed student and Camden Herald intern Morgan Brooke wrote up her thoughts on the event, which are as follows:

History was made Friday, March 15. Across the globe, students from nearly 100 countries left school and marched for climate action.
Watershed School became the seventh recorded school in Maine to plan a climate change walkout. Students stood in front of the Town Office, and many stayed behind to talk to town employees.

The Climate Strike began one August day in Sweden, when a 15­year­old girl sat down on the steps of the Swedish parliament building with a hand­painted banner reading, “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate). Now, eight months later, 16­-year old Greta Thunberg has become a public figure for activism. Today, she will stand outside the Swedish parliament building, as she has done almost every Friday all year. But this time, she will not be alone. She will be joined by thousands of students around the world.

“Some people can just let things go, but I can’t, especially if there’s something that worries me or makes me sad,” Greta said.

After discussing Greta’s story in a weekly all­-school meeting, the students at Watershed School decided to join the protest. Pearl Benjamin, 17, and a junior at Watershed, decided to organize the event. During lunchtimes throughout the week, students made signs for the protest.

The students were marching in favor of the idea of putting solar panels on three acres of Sagamore Farms. The town could increase its solar installation to 40 percent to meet its climate needs just by filling those three acres with solar panels.

“We are a small school, but we all knew that every voice counts,” one Watershed student said. “We need to take action on a huge issue that is affecting every second of our future.”

Benjamin noted that climate change will directly affect people in Midcoast Maine. “Not all teenagers get to grow up beside the ocean and eat local lobster in the summer and ski on our town slopes in the winter. We don’t take it for granted, because we know it might not last. Our Maine lifestyle and economy is in danger as our oceans rise, warm and acidify. If we continue on our current track, it is unlikely that my children will be able to enjoy the same Camden that I did.”

Watershed School’s Global Climate Change class will continue to work with the town on climate change in Camden, and all the school's students are prepared to participate with the Energy Committee and the Select Board to advance change.