The climate kids are right. Adults aren’t providing very good role models in the war against global warming.
Anchorage and all of Alaska could take the lead here to show them by example with two easy steps:
- Ban school buses except for kids with handicaps.
- Set up a schedule of escalating fines for parents who use a motor vehicle to pick up or drop off their kids at school.
Say maybe $5 for the first offense with every offense thereafter increasing by a fiver? That’s 20 trips to the school for only $100. If you want to keep on driving your kids to school, think of it as both your punishment for putting carbon in the air and your chance to help fund education.
Sans cars and buses, kids would need to walk, run, bike, skate, ski, or skateboard to school. A generation or two back, this is what kids did.
It was healthy exercise good for them then. It would be that and more now.
Call it exercise-plus. Not only would they get the health benefits of moving, they’d also get the psychological benefits of understanding what it means to sacrifice – no matter how small this sacrifice – for a good cause.
And they’d be better prepared for the school day. Here’s what neuroscientist and brain researcher Wendy Suzuki says about exercise:
“Better mood, better energy, better memory, better attention.”
Teachers ought to be all down with this idea. Why?
“…The most common finding in neuroscience studies looking at effects of long-term exercise,” Suzuki notes, “is improved attention function dependent on your prefrontal cortex.”
Ask any teacher, and they will tell you improved attention function would help a whole lot of students and sometimes the whole class.
But wait, there’s more.
The obesity crisis
Nearly a third of high school students are overweight or obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and thte half of that group who qualify as “obese” plus the rest of the obese children, cost $14 billion a year in direct health costs, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Exercise is no cure-all for obesity, but it doesn’t hurt. And if you have to be overweight, all the research indicates its better to be fit and overweight.
Lastly, there is the issue of government spending. The Anchorage School District is spending $25 million on transportation. Even if that was cut in half, it would mark significant savings.
ASD buses, according to the budget, cover 3.2 million miles per year. The Carbon Footprint Calculator indicates buses driven that many miles would generate over 300 metric tons of carbon or about 670,000 pounds or the equivalent of 2.7 million QuarterPounders from McDonald’s to translate this into something most teenagers can understand.
So to review for Anchorage, getting rid of most ASD buses and fining parents who drive their kids to and from school would:
- Send a message that “we’re trying” to children who don’t think adults are doing enough about global warming.
- Take a bite of hundreds of thousands of tons out of ASD carbon emissions.
- Save school districts millions of dollars.
- Help produce fitter, healthier children.
- Improve brain functions.
What’s not to like here? Why shouldn’t Anchorage set an example for the nation?