The Green Team at Los Altos High School celebrated Earth Day with a presentation by Scott Catamas, representing former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Project.
Catamas, winner of Emmy awards for youth television, engaged the audience of more than 150 students April 22 by repeatedly asking, "How many of you _ ?" He expressed delight at the greenness of the school community and the level of awareness of the students.
Juniors Flora Champenois, Kira Labuda and Uji Venkat, co-presidents of the Green Team, introduced Catamas. He thanked Sybil Cramer for her work as parent coordinator of the team and paid tribute to recycler Doug Bailey, a retired LAHS science teacher, who had set up recycling bins by every trash can on campus and supervises the can and bottle recycling.
After reviewing the basic concepts of climate change, Catamas focused on what can be done by individuals locally. Toward the goal of achieving 100 percent clean electricity within 10 years, he suggested, for example, reducing energy use by developing the habit of unplugging phantom power, the electricity electronics turned off but still plugged in consume. He said the drain from electronics not in use is greater than one might expect.
The number of students who raised their hands when asked how many live in homes with solar power impressed Catamas. He mentioned the emerging technology of harnessing ocean wave-power.
When Catamas addressed the possibility of a unified national smart grid to allow power providers to share resources across the country, drawing clean energy from wherever it was available, a student asked, "Isn't that socialism?" Catamas continued his talk without addressing the question.
He encouraged students to change how they view consumption. Many in the audience indicated an awareness of the ecological advantages of consuming locally grown produce, but became silent when he suggested wearing secondhand clothing.
Showing a quart-size glass bottle, he reminded students that plastic water bottles are a menace to the environment, and suggested getting an alkali-enhancing filter and bottling one's own water into stainless steel or glass containers. He also recommended taking canvas bags to the grocery store.
Fast, cheap food, he said, requires the inhumane treatment of animals and the destruction of rain forests to make room for raising inexpensive meat.
Applauding the intelligence and open-mindedness of youth, Catamas told the audience that green jobs will be the wave of the future.