Climate Change Pawns

I applaud kids becoming active in policy issues, but I condemn the use of students in school day protests

By Tammi Fisher

My mother has beautiful handwriting. I know this as I perfected forging her signature on “please excuse Tammi from class” notes in junior high and high school. I was reliably deviant in finding any way possible to avoid attending class. So, if I were presented with the opportunity by school administration to skip class in order to protest climate change, whether I knew anything about the topic or not, I would have taken the opportunity. Providing a quality education to our children is critical to our future, and I applaud every educator for their efforts to ensure our kids obtain the curriculum they need in order to become critical thinkers and passionate about issues. However, like many of my fellow taxpayers, we pay for curriculum, not protesting.

Climate change should be a part of school curriculum, and should include guest speakers such as farmers whose occupation relies on weather patterns.

I watched many students in other states get a free pass to protest, and their statements were fascinating. Some were certain their demise was imminent because their “parents and government” have failed to “do anything” about climate change. In the 1980s I was told by mass media that acid rain was sure to descend upon us, and my aerosol hair spray can was causing the ozone layer to vanish. Well, despite the fact that my “Butte Rock” style hair would suffer, I put down my beloved Aqua Net aerosol can in favor of pump action hair spray. The ozone is apparently healing, and thankfully, the acid rain didn’t appear. As a kid, my discernment skills were limited; I failed to recognize the difference between propagated scare tactics and realistic threats.

Most Montanans recognize conservation of our planet does not include eliminating all historical forms of energy and transportation. Despite billions of dollars in federal subsidies, solar and wind energy still only account for 3 percent of our energy resources, and remain inherently unreliable. Moreover, producing solar and wind energy systems takes energy provided by natural gas and coal. So do electric cars.

I applaud kids becoming active in policy issues. I condemn the use of students in school day protests; not only because our tax dollars were not intended to subsidize walkouts, but also because it’s difficult to gauge the students’ motivations. My critical thinking skills developed through years of quality Montana education discern that the organizers of the climate change protest used students as pawns to increase turnout. Otherwise they would have scheduled the protest on a Saturday when attendance is limited to those who are truly passionate about the issue. The organizers undermined their own efforts, delivering a zero sum gain for the cause by creating unnecessary panic and falsely inflated attendance.

Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.

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