Claire Goldberg is a student at Santa Monica High School, just down the road from the Global Green office, and she is active in The Samohi Solar Alliance, a student environmental group. For her work to green her school and local environment, she was among the student leaders we invited to join the Green Cross International/Global Green delegation to the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June.
"I went to Rio+20 with Global Green because I wanted to show people what my club was doing to try to help educate people, lessen our school and our community's carbon footprint, and make Santa Monica a more environmentally friendly place," she says. "I wanted to show that if we can do it, then almost everybody can. Although funding is a big problem, I think being environmentally friendly starts with being educated of all the problems and how easy it is to solve them." Below, she shares with us some observations about the experience.
I learned.... that it is much harder to change than one would expect. When I went to a favela to experience how life is in an impoverished area, I realized that these people couldn't simply just take shorter showers or change a light bulb. Due to the lack of a sewage system within the little town, people were forced to dump their trash into the local river, causing the water to be polluted and giving off gasses like sulfur and methane. When we were walking, we saw a man burning a piece of plastic trash, which gave off poisonous fumes. These people do not have the luxuries that we do, and do not even have the chance to learn how to change their lifestyles. These people would have a very hard time changing the way they live because of the poverty, lack of a sewage system, and especially lack of governmental help.
I was inspired by... the sheer amount of people that were there to make a difference. Seeing all the people that had come from all over the world to work together was amazing to me, and made me realize that if we all work hard to change our lifestyles, we can make a big impact of the environment.
I was excited to.... meet and hear Severn Suzuki during a Green Cross event. She is one of my idols, and hearing her advice and ideas was really wonderful. She told me that I need to be simple when confronting people about environmental issues. This really made an impact of me, because I had always focused on trying to get the most facts to put into a letter or trying to impress people with numbers and statistics. Now that I know to be simple and straightforward, it will help me really make an impact.
I learned from the another student.... about hydroponic farming. Meeting Pierre Beauchamp, who works with hydroponic and aquaponic farming was really interesting to me. It seemed like a really good idea that would potentially change the ideas of agriculture. We also got to talk about how important the ideas of local people are, because if politicians put funding into the ideas that everyday people have, then together we can create multiple solutions. I can bring back these ideas to my school club, The Samohi Solar Alliance, and we can work on talking to local politicians or groups about bringing in these solutions to our community.
I was surprised by... how I had never realized how much consumption and production has to go into everything we do. When I was there, seeing all the people that were a part of the conference, I started to grasp how overpopulated we are and how much we unnecessarily consume everyday. I felt like one of the biggest problems we face right now is that our environment can't handle the amount of people in the world and all of the products they consume daily. Although there are no obvious solutions to the high population, it is definitely a huge problem that we need to either fix or work around.