Students urge Amherst Town Meeting on climate change resolution

  • Jim Pistrang, top, who is the moderator, speaks during Amherst Town Meeting, Monday, April 30, 2018 at Amherst Regional Middle School. Members of the Select Board and others are seated below. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 17, 2018

AMHERST — At the urging of a group of seventh-graders, Town Meeting unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday to stand by the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, and to do so by encouraging town officials to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The resolution, which will also send letters to local, state and national leaders, was brought by a petition from nearly 30 seventh-graders at Amherst Regional Middle School, who began their research into climate change in a social studies unit.

Three students in what is known as Team Jaguar explained to Town Meeting the importance of adopting the resolution.

“Our town can inspire other communities,” said Rawan Elfawal.

“This is not a political issue, it’s a universal one,” said Tessa Kawall.

“We deserve a future with safe and health planet,” she added.

Cameron Gray-Lee explained steps that could be taken, including supporting a complete streets policy that would include bike lanes.

“Amherst should investigate switching existing buildings to clean energy,” Gray-Lee said.

Students who participated in the class taught by social studies teacher Irene LaRoche are confident that this carries meaning.

“Even though Amherst is a small town, we can do a lot against horrific climate change,” said Anna Gilsdorf, 13.

The students viewed former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and its sequel.

“Watching those movies let us see some places that are getting affected by climate change right now,” said Lucy Smith, 13.

Ariana Texidor, 12, said she and her classmates did extensive research over the past few months to prepare for the presentation.

LaRoche explained that students made phone calls to Town Meeting members, and sent emails to the moderator, attended precinct meetings and warrant review sessions and presented to the Select Board.

“They were incredible. They did all the work,” LaRoche said.

She also complimented Town Meeting members for being receptive to the students. “Townspeople have been really welcoming to their learning about the democratic process,” LaRoche said.

LaRoche said more of the information will be used for a presentation at a middle school assembly.