CALL TO CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION

Calling on Congress and State Legislatures to Act on Climate to Protect Students

WHEREAS, we believe America is a great nation and has a proud heritage of addressing humanity’s most pressing problems;

WHEREAS, we believe it is important to advocate for climate action leading to climate restoration to curtail one of the greatest threats facing communities throughout the world; and,

WHEREAS, we believe that climate change is not a partisan issue and that local, state, and national policies should be guided by the best available science; and,

WHEREAS, more than 97% of climate scientists agree that human activities, contributing to increases in greenhouse gas emissions, are the dominant cause of climate change; and,

WHEREAS, children represent a particularly vulnerable group because greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere will continue to accumulate over the coming decades and will profoundly impact our current students throughout their lives, as well as the lives of future generations; and,

WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the climate-related 2017 Tubb’s fire which destroyed the homes of more than 1200 students in Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Office of Education has encouraged school districts to engage in non-partisan climate advocacy. Since then, more than 100 school boards and student councils in California, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Oregon, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC have passed non-partisan climate action resolutions;

WHEREAS, in 2015 the California PTA has declared climate change a children’s issue and in 2019, the National Black Council of School Board Members, the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members, the California Association of School Psychologists, the California Association of Student Councils, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, and the National Association of School Nurses all passed climate action resolutions or position statements;

WHEREAS, climate silence is a form of climate inaction and the Climate Psychiatry Alliance asserts that lack of climate action from institutions (like schools, school districts, and education organizations) “has multiple traumatic effects on children including demoralization, development of hopelessness and defiance, and experiences of neglect and abuse that are associated with poor long term educational and emotional outcomes;"

WHEREAS, the _______________ School Board recognizes climate change as a generational justice and human rights issue; and,

WHEREAS, climate change is a social justice and equity issue. While climate change impacts all people and disproportionately impacts all young people and future generations, it disproportionately affects people of color and people in poverty, thereby exacerbating existing inequities and limiting equality of opportunity which is a foundational aspiration for modern America;

WHEREAS, 21 youth claimants are currently asserting a constitutional right for a livable climate in the Juliana v. U.S. case currently in federal courts and dozens of other youth claimants are making similar claims in state courts around the country; and

WHEREAS, the global impact, urgency, and magnitude of the challenge of addressing climate change calls for leadership in all sectors of society, all institutions and all elected leaders; and,

WHEREAS, we work to ensure that all _________________ students graduate as ______________________ (link to mission statement/LCAP of school district)

WHEREAS the  _______________________ School Board celebrates existing district sustainability initiatives such as:

  1. Enumerate existing district initiatives

WHEREAS, the __________ school board recognizes and understands the significant negative impact that rapid and ongoing climate change has on America’s schools, students, and their communities.

WHEREAS, education sector organizations have not yet accurately signaled to Congress the full negative impacts unmitigated climate change on American students, schools, and future generations. For example:

  1. The National School Boards Association considered a strong climate action resolution in March of 2019, but a last minute revision by the Florida Delegation stripped it of any mention of climate change turning it into a “natural disaster resolution instead” It appears that the NSBA, representing all 90,000 school board members in the country chose language to specifically avoid making Members of Congress advocating for climate delay and climate neglect (and their supporters in the NSBA) uncomfortable.
  2. In March of 2019, the ED of the National Association of School Psychologists explained that the NASP would not speak up for climate justice because NASP does not consider climate change to have a “very direct” impact on “schools...student learning….or children’s….mental health.”
  3. In June of 2018, a youth-adult team with Schools for Climate Action met with a senior staffer of the California School Boards Association. She informed the S4CA team that there was not open discussion of climate impacts on California schools and students because the words “climate change” were considered “too controversial” within the CSBA.
  4. These three organizations lobby Congress regularly about policies that are good for schools and students, yet no member of Congress has ever received any information from them about the devastating impacts of climate change on US schools and students. Only about 200 of the 75,000 education sector organizations have spoken up for climate action in any formal way.

LET IT THEREFORE BE RESOLVED THAT, __________________________ shall direct the Superintendent to establish a Climate Crisis Committee to develop recommendations for taking action on climate change that are within the purview of the District, such as:

  1. curricular and educational opportunities such as climate literacy, climate advocacy, and climate justice curriculum and graduation requirements;
  1. Schools for Climate Action has non-partisan climate advocacy opportunities for middle and high school classes
  1. facilities and operational priorities and projects including transportation, purchasing, maintenance, landscaping, and construction;
  1. Green for All’s #FuelChange program helps school districts purchase electric school buses
  2. Climate Parents 100% Clean School Districts campaign helps school districts develop 100% clean energy programs
  1. climate-friendly food service: including initiatives to increase plant-based and lower meat recipe menu planning and food waste reduction programs
  1. Friends of the Earth supports climate-friendly food service for school districts
  1. targets for reducing District greenhouse gas emissions and carbon budgeting; and,
  2. engagement and non-partisan advocacy with local, state and federal jurisdictions for commonsense climate policies that protect current and future students.

The Committee shall be open to participation by board members, administration, staff, parents, students, and community members, and shall provide quarterly reports of its activities to the Board of Trustees.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ___________________ Board of Education calls on Congress and our State Legislature to swiftly enact common-sense state and national climate policies in order to restore the climate to protect young people and future generations, such as:

+revenue-neutral carbon-fee-and-dividend;

+100% clean energy transition plans that include safety nets and training for transitioning workers;

+green infrastructure and technology investments that meet the urgency, scope, and scale outlined in the IPCC’s Special Report, “Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celsius,”

+investments in forestry and regenerative agriculture to drawdown CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester in soils and biomass.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education directs the district clerk to transmit official copies of this resolution to the following: the Superintendent of County Schools, the school boards of all school districts in the County, all student councils in our district, the district educators’ unions, all district PTA’s, all California county Superintendents of Schools, the State Superintendent of Education and the California State Board of Education, the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, the California School Boards Association, the National School Board Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, all California members of Congress, and the Schools for Climate Action campaign.

Rationale

Research demonstrates that climate change adversely affects students’ physical and mental health and negatively impacts student achievement.

The damages caused by natural catastrophes and extreme weather events devastate local economies and therefore schools.

In 2017, the Government Accounting Agency reported that the impact of climate change to the United States was approximately $350 billion for the preceding 10 years, and is projected to cost at least $35 billion annually from now until 2050 when it will increase to as much as $112 billion annually by the end of the century.

A report by the Universal Ecological Fund places the annual cost at $240 billion.  These figures did not include the devastating California wildfires of 2017/2018, the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in South Texas, loss of Alaskan permafrost and coastal land mass, significant droughts in the western United States, increases in insect population growth leading to destruction of crops, and projected loss of low lying land in Florida, Virginia, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Research by the World Meteorological Organization concluded that 80 percent of natural disasters between 2005 and 2015 were in some way climate related.

The insurance industry has recognized the impact of climate change.  In 2010 the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) adopted an Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey in response to The Potential Impact of Climate Change on Insurance Regulation white paper released by the NAIC in 2008.  “The disclosure of climate risk is important because of the potential impact climate change can have on insurer solvency and the availability and affordability of insurance across all major categories.”

In addition to the projected costs due to major flooding affecting coastal schools, there will be increased electricity demands due to heat and air quality for inland schools requiring increasing amounts of air conditioning and possible indoor gyms for physical education and athletics.

The specific costs to school infrastructure including the loss of buildings and lands as well as declines in tax revenue and increases in insurance rates has not been determined, however it is expected to be billions of dollars.  It is vital that climate change be slowed so that school districts and their communities can spend precious dollars in classrooms to support the students of today and for future generations.

Climate Change Impacts on Mental Health References (from E. Haase, MD yet-to-be published):

Suicides increase when there is an increase in temperature. Rates of suicide increase in different studies have been variable, but averaged 1% per 1C in one recent meta-analysis, separate from other meteorological variables that have been linked to suicide risk (Gao et al 2019).  Climate explained up to 37.6% of the variance in suicides in another study, more than economic distress (Fountoulakis et al 2016). If climate change continues on its current course, Burke et al estimated 14,020 additional temperature-based suicides in the United States alone by 2050, equivalent to the impact of all current suicide prevention programs (Burke et al 2018).

Another psychiatric consequence of heat is its impact, directly and indirectly, on aggressive behavior. With every 1C increase in temperature, there is a 4% increase in interpersonal and intergroup violence. This can be seen in behavior in a wide range of circumstances, from aggression on the baseball field, (Larrick et al 2011)  to homicide and violence rates in domestic settings (Hsiang et al 2013).  Projections indicate nine excess violent crimes per 100,000 people per 2 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise (Anderson, 1989).   They suggest that by 2099, the USA will have seen 22,000 murders, 180,000 rapes, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260, 000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in excess of what would be expected at current temperatures (Ransom 2014).

The most obvious and immediate health impacts of air pollution are on the respiratory system. Fuel-based irritants increase rates of asthma and other respiratory illness and also inhibit lung development in children. The resulting smaller total lung volumes are associated with poorer overall health and brain health (Perera FP, 2016). The psychosocial impacts of respiratory illness, particularly for children and families, also significantly stress those impacted, leading to hundreds of dollars per year in costs, lost work and school days, and impaired capacity to participate in exercise and social activities, both vital for mental well-being and development.  The total burden of particle and ozone pollution has been estimated at about four million premature deaths per year (Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network, 2017). Air pollution has been estimated to add $100 billion per year in health costs for seven first world countries.

            The magnitude of cerebral damage associated with this carbon-based air pollution cannot be overstated. Starting in utero, and progressing through childhood and the adult life span, this neuronal damage has been associated with greater rates of intrauterine growth retardation, smaller brain volume, increased rates of autism and behavioral disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, decreases in childhood and adult IQ scores, adult depression, and earlier onset of dementia. Compared to those raised in clean air environments, children in highly polluted environments such as Mexico City, have relatively smaller brain volumes beginning in utero and reaching a volume deficit of twenty-five percent by teen years (Perera 2016, Calderon-Garciduenes et al, 2016).