As rising temperatures create intense summer heat, environmental activists are in the midst of it in an attempt to make a difference. When school was out of session, high schoolers across Indiana stepped up to join the fight against climate change.
Brebeuf senior Maggie Gonzalez was no exception. When she was off from her summer job, she was on the front lines, attending parades and protests in order to spread the word via Confront the Climate Crisis, of which she is a core member.
“In October of 2020, I was in the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council for Indianapolis and someone in the council knew the people who started Confront the Climate Crisis. They sent a message in our GroupMe like, ‘Hey, we’re having a beginning meeting about this new campaign that we’re starting. Anyone can join if they want to,’” Gonzalez said.
The rest is history. Nine months after she joined, meeting three times a week with her fellow members, Gonzalez and the group grew close and decided to expand on their activism by spending a week together in Washington, D.C.
“We met with Mike Braun, Sen. Todd Young’s staff and with Rep. Jim Baird,” Gonzalez said. “We were talking to them about the environment in Indiana in general and how they can get involved in climate change in Indiana. Our group is introducing legislation into the 2022 legislative session, so we were just talking to them and getting some feedback.”
Gonzalez and her fellow Confront the Climate Crisis members spent some additional time simply enjoying each other’s company while at the nation’s capital.
“We only met with three legislators so most of the time was spent just having fun. It was amazing. We went to a baseball game and we went kayaking on the Potomac River,” Gonzalez said.
As the team looks down the road, its next biggest goal is to push for Indiana to declare a climate emergency.
“As a larger society, I think that businesses need to be focused on that because they are huge and really involved in creating climate change. With the new IPCC report, if we continue how we are then it is going to be really bad in 20 or 30 years,” Gonzalez said.
As the summer ends and high school environmentalists get back into the swing of things, the fight does not end. Gonzalez, in addition to being a member of Confront the Climate Crisis, is part of Brebeuf’s Conservation Club. She plans on raising awareness by increasing students’ accountability when it comes to the planet.
“One thing we noticed was there weren’t many recycling bins in the school, and with all of the plastic packaging that everyone had to use for COVID safety, there was just a lot of it getting thrown out and a lot of stuff being recycled that wasn’t supposed to be recycled,” Gonzalez said.
“We are going to try to do a program where people adopt a recycling bin. They have to clean it and put it into the bigger recycling bins outside. We are hoping it raises accountability.”
Even when great big changes are not being made to lessen the effects of climate change, students like Maggie Gonzalez continue to fight an uphill battle for the good of the world.
Gabriella Schuetz is a Senior at Columbus East High School and a member of Earth Charter Indiana's Youth Environmental Press Team.