Fishers students give climate speeches at HIPL event

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At a recent fundraiser for Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, three students from Fishers gave speeches on why they are focused on climate solutions. The raw transcript from their speeches are below. Above, from left to right: Vernice, Emma and Martha.

Emma: We advocate change in our schools and community through our environmental club. I’m the president of the environmental club at Fishers High School and Martha is the president of the environmental club at Hamilton Southeastern High School. We are all working together to implement a more sustainable culture for the high schools as well as the community of Fishers in general. The three of us were also recently able to attend the Climate Summit in Goshen and take away a lot of information and inspiration for activism as well as the chance to be exposed to issues we had not previously been educated on. It was such an honor for us to be there and not only represent the youth but to be able to hear the words of the amazing scientists and speakers who share our passions.

Martha: Vernice and I work together in what we call Royal Eco Club at HSE. I have proudly been apart of this club since I was a Freshman and have been the president for two years. We have worked on projects within our school such as decreasing plastic consumption within the school cafeteria, implementing and maintaining our recycling system, engaging with youth to educate our future leaders regarding environmental issues, and as always spreading awareness and education throughout our school and to the student body at HSE high school.

Vernice: I’m working with Martha to help with these projects, but I also have an ambitious project of my own outside of school. Currently, I am working with a sustainability representative at city hall to establish a climate change resolution in Fishers. It requires a lot of dedication and time to research and write it. The reason why I’m doing this is because I want to leave Fishers knowing that it will be taken care of. 

When I’m researching climate change in Indiana, I get this really tight feeling in my chest when I see the words “irreversible” or “damage.”I get sick. Sick of how poorly we Hoosiers treat our state’s environment. It surprises me how adults haven’t been noticing the signs of climate change here. They think it’s just bad weather. “Indiana’s weather is crazy! It’s sunny one day and snowy the next.” They say. I, too, would like to blame the actual state of Indiana for randomly giving us these unprecedented weather and temperature changes.

Do you remember the end of January and the beginning of February where it was negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit? Do you remember when the windchill was negative 40 degrees at that time. A temperature where one can stand outside and within minutes develop severe frostbite and hypothermia? That isn’t normal weather in Indiana nor near normal. The last time we had weather like that was over 30 years ago. We can expect more of these cold snaps to come affecting our health, our education and even cause property damage. It’s not even in the winter either this summer was just as bad.

There was only 1 day out of the 31 days in July where the temperature was normal with 24 days being significantly above average July temperatures.

I want our children to play in the best weather and most beautiful environment. I don’t want them to suffer from asthma and breathe polluted air. That’s not how I remember my childhood. I remember chasing squirrels and making flower crowns without thinking about the pollen in the air. I remember being able to build a snowman in my snowsuit without having to worry about severe frostbite. Knowing that my children will have these worries and anxiety about our changing earth, sickens me. Sickens me because we had the opportunity to change and didn’t take all for money.

The one thing I want every adult here to take away is that we youth look up to you adults for guidance and for a future. What you do and what you show our generation is your legacy.

Martha: Very well said Vernice. For me nature provides me with a safe place. A place where I can get rid of any outside distractions and simply be. Something as simple as hearing the lively sounds of nature to the wind blowing against our body. But to know that the wind brushing against my arm is contaminated with soot or that the river I hear is entrapped with plastic. To know that nature is being affected like this lies as one of my largest concerns today

But like Vernice stated, we are seeing rapid and consistent changes here in the state of Indiana, in our cities and towns, in our home. The planet we call our home is facing alarming rates of harsh natural disasters, droughts, forest fires, extinction, and rising sea levels. Our world is permanently deteriorating because of temporary goals.

It is so easy for us to recognize that climate change and environmental hazards are occurring right now. But to my peers, our future families and friends,  the people of the world, and to who we speak amongst today, it is time we act upon the issues we are seeing. Now is the time to do something. Now is the time to care.  And I am sure we have all heard this over and over again, yet it still seems like this needs to be reiterated because soon, we won’t have an opportunity to make a change. And it won’t matter if you cared when it’s too late.

Without the preservation of Earth and its natural occurrences, life as we know it, will be obsolete. Some of our favorite animals growing, are and will be wiped off the face of our Earth that has been congested with greenhouse gases and stripped of its land. Maybe  the satisfactions of things like profit, consumerism, and lifestyle don’t have to take as large as a toll as it has on the Earth. Because with these increasing factors affecting our Earth have the ability to be completely irreversible. There’s a wonderful quote that is from an unknown writer that says nature doesn’t ask for anything. It only asks that we protect it.

Emma: I am a big believer in words. I am also a big advocate for the power of words. But there comes a time when words alone are simply not enough. How we form our language and present our plans holds only as much power as we let it, and while we are seeing wonderfully articulate reflections of what we want (i.e. Greta at the UN), the point still stands: We need action. 

For our environmental club at Fishers High School, we try as best we can to manifest our activism in a way that will have a positive impact on our community. Our club bought bins when we were founded a few years back in order to install plastic and aluminum recycling at our school. We also hosted the first ever FHS Earth Day Celebration this past year for a night of education and activism. Sustain, protect, educate. Those are the words we picked when thinking about what we wanted for our club in terms of what we are able to. We want to be able to see our actions and passions reflected in the beliefs of our peers and fellow citizens. But enough about our club. How do we as a state, a nation, a world build this sense of community and band together?

The action we need can only be a result of us standing together. The thought of Well, there’s nothing I can do is plaguing too many people all around the world. Every single person has a voice in this. This is our planet, not just the planet of those in power. It is our duty to push for legislation that will protect our environment and see that the level of ecological damage, pollution, and warming is stopped. We are seeing unprecedented effects of our actions on ecosystems, and it is time to wake up. There is no time for hoping for a better tomorrow, there is only time to act for that better tomorrow. People speak of the fate of the history books recounting our time as if they have already been written. This could not be farther from the truth. We hold the power to write our own futures, and I refuse to see it be one without a thriving planet able to sustain life and biodiversity as we know it. 

We are already seeing the effects of climate change in Indiana whether it is plainly recognizable or not. We are 48th in the country for quality of life. Our air is becoming increasingly dangerous to breathe as a result of our amount of fossil fuel use and harmful emissions. We fail to halt our intake of single use products. We are seeing dangerous fluctuations in weather and flooding. These occurrences are no coincidence. Nor are the natural disasters and extinctions happening all across the world. It is essential that we band together to push for legislation that will ensure the sustainability of our future and our planet. It is time for effective action that will see our concerns addressed and solutions implemented. I ask for you to reclaim your words and see what you can do for action. To manifest your words into effective activism. To have hope for a future that rests on our shoulders. Thank you. 

Andy Fry