Planet Patrol impresses with climate change event at MAST Academy
Nearly 800 students packed MAST Academy’s auditorium on Friday, Sept. 20, to join Planet Patrol, a nonprofit part of Big Minds Happy Hearts that educates youth about causes of environmental issues and climate change.
Luisa Montano, founder of Planet Patrol, led the event, speaking during two assemblies of middle school and high school students about how Florida, Key Biscayne, the oceans and trees are impacted by climate change.
Scientists claim climate change is a result of global warming.
“Our coast is at sea level,” Montano said. “Can you imagine what would happen if the sea level continued to rise like it is projected to? It puts us in a vulnerable situation.”
She also offered solutions, including simple steps kids can take every day to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. The young audience was enthusiastic about the learning experience.
One fascinated student said, “I never thought something so simple -- like turning off the lights -- could make such a big difference. I will always remember to turn off my lights now.”
Another student liked the idea of “Meatless Monday,” admitting that it might be hard to convince her family, but is a worthwhile effort.
Added another student: “Fossil fuels are honestly the worst. We need to stop that trend the same way we need to end the plastic product trends.”
The solution? “Switch to renewable energy,” quipped another student. “Why is it taking so long for our country to realize that?"
The three-hour assembly took place during Friday’s worldwide climate strike. News reports said the youth-led strike was the largest ever, with millions of young people protesting across 150 countries, demanding leaders take action now against climate change. Demonstrators held signs with statements such as “There is No ‘Planet B’!” and “Our Future is in Your Hands.”
While the MAST students didn’t take to the streets, Montano did explain what the strikers intended to accomplish. The 24-year-old environmental activist said a “friendly” strike not only empowers youth, it might compel those in power to take action.
“If you see something you don’t agree with, act on it,” she said. “The most important thing you have is your voice.”
One student agreed, saying that the event inspired her to take action. “I promise to make conscious decisions that help our home.”
The demonstration occurred three days ahead of the United Nations climate summit on Monday, Sept. 23.
“[Friday's] event was the first of many environmental awareness initiatives that will take place at MAST,” said Melanie Ervin, science teacher and internship coordinator at MAST Academy. “Luisa was a former student of mine back in 2004, and we reconnected on social media. She came to my class last year and was invited again because she’s truly remarkable and the voice of tomorrow. She left an imprint then and made a huge impact on Friday.”
Planet Patrol spreads awareness on environmental issues through community initiatives such as beach clean ups, a free nine-month curriculum to schools, and school visits with classroom activities. The Planet Patrol troops meet monthly.