Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker visited a group of 8th graders at Hillside Middle School Monday to answer questions about climate change in advance of the 44th annual Earth Day.
Students at Hillside Middle School spoke at length about climate issues like melting ice caps; migratory bird habitats and droughts. Becker was a senior in high school the year Earth Day became a national holiday. It was a time he says he knew very little about his own impact on the environment.
“What gets me so focused is that if we do not address this issue in a very serious way, you, as you get to be adults are going to face consequences and costs and changes in your lives that are greater than probably anything else that’s out there that we know about today,” Becker told students.
While many 8th graders are thinking about dating, sports and video games, these kids are thinking about the changing climate.
“It’s kind of cool to talk about and figure out how to solve another problem,” student Alex Sutton says.
His class is learning about fossil fuels and their effects on climate change. They’re also exploring solar power with more 20 solar panels on the schools’ roof. Sutton says he wanted to know more about the Mayor’s efforts to tackle climate change locally.
“I mean, even after we’re gone, there are still others that are going to be in Utah, and we want to make sure that the valley is in a shape that’s reasonable to live in,” Sutton says.
Mayor Becker is a member of President Obama’s climate change task force, which is made up of a group of state, local and tribal officials, who advise the president on how the federal government can help local communities deal with climate change.
On Tuesday, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams will be hosting an Earth Day festival for elementary students at the county environmental health division offices in Murray.