The Earth is burning, and our schools are crumbling. Investments in healthy, sustainable, green schools can help solve both problems.
As a result of human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, generated primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels, the global climate is now about 1°C (nearly 2°F) warmer than the historical climate in which modern civilization emerged. Every amount of GHG emitted into the atmosphere worsens the global climate crisis, leading to real and increasingly measurable risks to human and ecosystem health, to the economy, and to global security. Predominantly Black and Brown communities and economically disadvantaged communities are at the frontlines of the impacts of the crisis.
At the same time, our nation’s public schools are drastically in need of improvements. According to the Aspen Institute, there are nearly 100,000 public schools in the U.S. They are, on average, 50 years old and emit 78 million metric tons of CO2 per year at an energy cost of about $8 billion annually. Investments in school infrastructure and climate mitigation, including the replacement of outdated and ineffective heating and cooling systems, improvements to ventilation and insulation, the installation of rooftop solar, and the remediation of asbestos, lead, and mold will not only improve the school environment for students and staff, but will also address historical injustices along the lines of race and class. These investments will also contribute to stabilizing the Earth’s climate.
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