As an 18-year-old Freshman at the University of Maryland, climate change is something that has been on my mind throughout my teenage years. I’ve grown up hearing about how my family lost their home and possessions in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina.
They experienced firsthand how a natural disaster can devastate a community and completely alter people’s lives. Severe weather events are just one of the many crises brought by climate change, and they’re occurring more frequently and with greater intensity.
By passing the Climate Crisis and Education Act, Maryland has the opportunity to take direct action to reduce our emissions, helping curb the drastic effects of climate change.
When my friends and I talk about our futures, our conversations are filled with uncertainties. We ask ourselves, if we can live somewhere with healthy enough air quality to breathe? And, if we can find somewhere to live without severe, destructive weather patterns? There are fewer and fewer places in Maryland that meet these criteria.
For us, climate change is not the far-off circumstance that it’s often made out to be — it’s here right now and something that will affect nearly all aspects of our lives in our futures. Climate change has already damaged countless Maryland communities. We’ve been betrayed by previous generations, and we are now left with a catastrophic issue of alarming scale.
My generation is frustrated with the lack of leadership on climate change, and elected officials who kick the can down the road. Do they care about our future? Like many other students, I’ve channeled my frustration into action. In all my years of school, I had never cut class until my junior year, when I began organizing and attending school climate walkouts. I’ve skipped school to protest for climate action, knowing that my education is meaningless if there is no hope for a healthy planet.
Maryland’s coastal location makes it one of the most vulnerable states when it comes to the impacts of climate change. Low-lying areas are already dealing with frequent flooding — Annapolis is one of the most frequently flooded areas on the East Coast. Our farms will suffer more and more from rising temperatures and droughts.
Bold climate action is long overdue, and the Climate Crisis and Education Act (SB 76 and HB 33) scheduled for a House hearing on February 18 in the Economics Matter Committee, is an excellent place to start. As someone who has gone through the Maryland public school system K through 12, I am excited to have a bill that generates revenue to provide funding for our schools while addressing climate change. Maryland has the opportunity to be a leader in the nation on climate policy. I’m proud to be from Maryland, and passing the Climate Crisis and Education Act would make my generation proud.