Quantcast
Popular
Panoramic view of Logan, Utah. Michael Gordon / CC BY 3.0

Utah High Schoolers Convinced State Lawmakers to Admit Climate Change Is Real

Utah's state lawmakers aren't exactly friendly to climate change legislation. Their Republican governor said in 2015 that man-made climate change is "a little debatable." In 2010, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution that implied global warming is a conspiracy and urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop all carbon dioxide reduction policies and programs.

But thanks to a group of fearless high schoolers, Gov. Gary Herbert reversed the 2010 measure this past March, with the support of 75 percent of Republican legislators.


The resolution, which Herbert signed on March 20, "encourages the responsible stewardship of natural resources and reduction of emissions through incentives and support of the growth in technologies and services that will enlarge the economy."

This valiant, two-year effort was detailed in a High Country News op-ed this week by Jack Greene, a retired high school teacher who works with Utah students on environmental issues.

According to Greene, a group of students at Logan High School were shocked after learning about the 2010 resolution and sprung to action. He described how the students have already witnessed Utah's longer and more intense fire seasons, a dwindling snowpack and increasing water scarcity.

"My generation and generations to come will inherit the many threats that climate change poses," student Piper Chirstian told Greene.

They eventually drafted their own bill and gathered support from grassroots groups, business coalitions and key lawmakers.

In 2017, they enlisted Republican legislator Rep. Becky Edwards to sponsor the resolution, "Economic and Environmental Stewardship."

Although this attempt failed, the students did not give up, and "partnered with a coalition of advocacy organizations, whose volunteers met with representatives from nearly every Utah political district," Greene reported.

The bill's supporters pled to legislators to consider the effects of climate change on the state's future.

"We, as youth leaders of Utah, have assembled with you, our state leaders, to address what we consider to be the paramount issue of our generation—that of a changing climate," one student said.

During the 2018 legislative general session, after impassioned testimony from the students, the bill gained traction. It made it out of committee by an 8-2 vote, Green wrote, "then, at last, came success as the House passed the resolution 51-21 and the Senate 23-3."

Those opposed to the bill included Rep. Mike Noel. As quoted by The Salt Lake Tribute, Noel told the students: "This whole issue of climate change has been used by organizations to fool people."

The Utah Legislature, however, was no fool.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Renewable Energy
A prototype of GE's massive new wind turbine will be installed in the industrial area of Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam. GE Renewable Energy

World's Largest Wind Turbine to Test Its Wings in Rotterdam

Rotterdam's skyline will soon feature the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine.

GE Renewable Energy announced on Wednesday it will install the first 12-megawatt Haliade-X prototype in the Dutch city this summer. Although it's an offshore wind turbine by design, the prototype will be installed onshore to facilitate access for testing.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Colorful, fresh organic vegetables. fcafotodigital / Getty Images

A New Diet for the Planet

By Tim Radford

An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor's orders, tomorrow's farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Children's books about the environment. U.S. Air Force photo / Karen Abeyasekere

This State Might Require Public Schools to Teach Climate Change

Reading, writing, arithmetic ... and climate science. That doesn't have the same ring as the "three Rs" of education, but Connecticut could one day require the subject to be on the curriculum, The Associated Press reported.

A Connecticut state lawmaker is pushing a bill to mandate the teaching of climate change in public schools throughout the state, starting in elementary school.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
NASA's ICESCAPE mission investigates the changing conditions in the Arctic. NASA / Kathryn Hansen

These Eye-Opening Memes Show the Real 10-Year Challenge

Before-and-after photos of your friends have probably taken over your Facebook and Instagram feeds, but environmentalists are using the #10YearChallenge to insert a dose of truth.

Memes of shrinking glaciers, emaciated polar bears and coral bleaching certainly subvert the feel-good viral sensation, but these jarring images really show our planet in a worrying state of flux.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Vial containing swab from a deceased duck, collected for testing during the 2014-2015 avian influenza outbreak. © 2015 Erica Cirino, used with permission.

Could Trump’s Government Shutdown Cause Outbreaks of Wildlife Disease?

By Erica Cirino

The current U.S. government shutdown could worsen ongoing wildlife disease outbreaks or even delay responses to new epidemics, according to federal insiders and outside experts who work with federal wildlife employees.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Vegan raw cheese from cashew nuts. byheaven/ iStock / Getty Images

Vegan Cheese: What’s the Best Dairy-Free Option?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Cheese is one of the most beloved dairy products across the globe. In the U.S. alone, each person consumes more than 38 pounds (17 kg) of cheese per year, on average (1).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Sun setting behind the Fawley Oil Refinery in Fawley, England. Clive G' / CC BY-ND 2.0

Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe'

By Jessica Corbett

Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world's wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that's been called both the "money Oscars" and a "threat to democracy"—the group published a report declaring, "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe."

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Robusta coffee beans growing on a tree. Dag Sundberg / Getty Images

60% of Wild Coffee Species at Risk for Extinction

If humans don't wake up now to the threats posed by climate change and habitat loss, we may be in for a permanently sleepy future. A study led by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew found that 60 percent of wild coffee species are at risk for extinction.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!