Climate Change Connections: Teach your children well

Young people share their thoughts on climate change.


It is ironic that the very words “climate change” are using two different meanings of the word “change.” The first is present, the other is future. The present is well-established and foreboding; the other is in transition, and hopeful. Focusing on hope, it strikes me that the future is about this next generation who will be the torchbearers to cause the change from present to future. This will be done through the magic of education, so we must teach our children well. This does not exclude the children with long legs, the adults. Most seem quite ready to take on this mantle and move us forward to higher ground, literally. I invite you to examine the interviews below, and determine for yourself how education works to empower us from uninformed to being able to cause positive change and rise above peril.

The printing press was probably the greatest invention when you consider how it put books of knowledge into the hands of the common person, not just the monks or the rich. We are at that juncture with climate change, allowing the less-informed person to become educated and therefore able to find the necessary resolve to determine our destiny, to keep our planet safe.

Interview questions: What are your general feelings about climate change? What are your specific concerns about climate change? What would be best for the Island?

Reid Norton
Gettysburg College; studied in Copenhagen
Grandson of the late Jeff Norton

I think climate change has become a much more prevalent issue with the younger generation, as its effects are already beginning to manifest, and are projected to rapidly increase in severity in the next few decades. For me, it is not just a threat to my safety, but to the safety of my future children. If we, as humans, continue to emit pollutants at the same rate, future generations will be plagued with a crisis that is essentially unchangeable. I am concerned that not everyone is aware of how immediate the effects will be.

I am also concerned about how our economic system relies on the fossil fuel industry. Stemming all the way from John Rockefeller and Rockefeller Oil, the fossil-fuel industry and wealth have been synonymous. While obviously fossil fuels have contributed to incredible advancements throughout the Industrial Revolution, there is a clear need for alternative energy sources. In short, big fossil-fuel companies have been running American economics for over a century, so my biggest concern is the urgency of policy and subsidizing renewables as a priority of the government. There have been steps in the right direction, but considering the urgency of climate change and the slow pace of policymakers to agree on legislation, I am worried that we will be unable to do enough in the little time we have.

Fortunately, Martha’s Vineyard is a prime area for wind and solar energy. The return on investment of onshore and offshore wind turbines is projected to skyrocket in the next few years. While the Island has dipped its foot in the waters of clean energy, our year-long windy climate means that wind turbine installation should be a priority in combating climate change.

Paige Pogue
Vineyard-educated; senior at University of Vermont
One of Steve and Kathy Pogue’s triplets

One word comes to mind: overwhelming. The many intricate factors contributing to the progression of climate change have to be addressed. Climate change is a global issue tending to harm those most vulnerable. I am an environmental studies major, and it is often taught to us that this course of study is very taxing. The implications of climate change are heavy; however, there is hope. Political and corporate change have proven to be difficult, but I am a firm believer that community action and activism can have a great impact.

My personal course of study has led me into the fashion industry. This industry is responsible for about 10 percent of global emissions, and is one of the worst industries in terms of waste production. Fast fashion is common for all ages, the price point is accessible for many, and fast fashion has every micro-trend, often updating stock on a daily basis. Making sustainable clothing brands financially accessible, as well as promoting the secondhand clothing industry, is the way forward. I fully believe there is a way the fashion industry can limit its contributions to climate change. This is possible through creating sustainable products and systems, products that cater to trends and longevity, and systems that maintain affordability and innovation in the fashion industry.

I recently read about the Climate Action Fair, which took place at the Agricultural Hall in May. Events like this are so important, since many people don’t know where to start or whether to make individual or political changes in regard to climate change. Community events allow a massive information brainstorm, not only to benefit and protect Martha’s Vineyard, but how we can combat climate change in its entirety. In these intimate settings, we are able to accurately address what the community and Island need to prosper.

Reflecting on these Islanders’ interviews, here is a suggestion for you: Get together with a small group of friends, both old and young, and draft a letter encouraging your state representative, Dylan Fernandes, to fast-track all climate change legislation. His address is 24 Beacon St., Room 167, Boston, MA 02133. And check out “The Vineyard Way,” the Vineyard climate action plan, at