Jasper Page: Climate change — heard of it?
Special to the Sierra Sun
On Nov. 3, media personality Trisha Paytas partook in the eighth “Frenemies Podcast” with Ethan Klein. Paytas has over 7 million followers across Youtube and Instagram. Klein, better known as h3h3, is a YouTube personality with nearly 9 million followers between his main channel and his podcast channel. On the podcast, the two discuss quite a few important issues. Paytas mentions she voted for the first time in her life, but she made sure to mention that “[she] did it for the TikTok.”
She mentions that she voted for Biden because “he quoted Hamilton … in one of his speeches.” The quote she was referring to is “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” Yes, the quote is in a song from the hit Broadway musical. But more importantly, outdated as it may be, it is a phrase from one crucial document used to found our country’s core values.
Fifteen minutes into the hour-long podcast, Klein asks Paytas, “Do you believe that climate change is an urgent time-bomb we need to face immediately and boldly?” to which Paytas responds, “I have no idea what that is.” Now, it isn’t overly important for someone like Trisha Paytas to be oblivious to issues like climate change. Throughout her social media career, she has veered away from sharing her own opinions on large issues like this. As long as her ignorance doesn’t bleed into her followers, and she doesn’t vote in future elections with this lack of information, she is free to stay as far away from learning about important issues as she sees fit. It did get me thinking though. How does Paytas not know about the looming global threat we call climate change? And for people like Paytas, what is climate change?
I asked John Simeon, a science teacher at Mammoth High School, to give me a brief explanation about what climate change is, was, and will become.
“When I was younger, we understood that the Earth would be warming, and that was the first ‘catchword’-global warming,” he said. “But some people wondered with that, what’s the issue? Will that allow me to grow more crops? Will that make my environment more easy to live in? All these different things you could think about when you hear ‘global warming’, but as the science became more mature, we realized that some people are feeling it colder, some people are feeling it wetter, some people are feeling it in other ways than necessarily warming. So, it’s better to talk about it as ‘climate change’.”
According to Simeon, it seems to be the general consensus among the U.S. at least, that climate change is real and is a threat, but the controversial and political aspect of it is what causes the climate to change. Simeon also explained that a large part of what he teaches is that humans are a leading cause of climate change. When asked how long he’s been teaching climate change, Simeon suggested I check out a website called nextgenscience.org. The website (Next Generation Science Standards) has a list of all required standards for states (California included) who use the program in the U.S. Next Generation Science was released on July 19, 2011, five years after Trisha Paytas graduated high school. This could explain why she hadn’t the slightest idea what climate change is. After graduating college, she received no further education, and likely has equally educated friends and so, climate change seemed to have never been a topic of conversation in her daily life.
But why is this such a big deal? Who cares that a 32-year-old influencer doesn’t know what climate change is? Simeon said, “The consensus was that climate change is the largest issue facing students today, so of course we want to teach that and we want kids to understand that.”
Last year, I read a book called “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. The book takes place in the year 2045 after climate change had ravaged the Earth, stripping it of all life besides humans. There’s a quote from it that struck me: “I live in a time when people stopped trying to fix problems and just tried to outlive them.” While this isn’t necessarily the case for Paytas, or anyone else with a lack of education, it does capture the sad reality that the young generation, my generation, is now faced with finding a solution to climate change before the clock stops ticking. The reality is that it was generations long before us that created the problem in the first place. The first step is to educate the students of this generation. It’s crucial to inform high schoolers of the global, inevitable crisis that is climate change.
Jasper Page is a student at Tahoe Expeditionary Academy and a writer for the High Alpine Press, the student newsletter
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