HB 1226 - Declare October 1st "NH Climate Awareness Day"
February 18, 2020 – Concord, NH
HB 1228 - Proclaiming October 1st Climate Awareness Day
Thank you honorable Executive Departments and Administration Committee members for hearing my testimony. Thank you Representative Balch for bringing this bill forward and Representatives McGhee, Cannon and Oxenham for co-sponsoring this bill.
As an environmental science educator, dance instructor, writer, photographer and climate action advocate, I understand that science, arts, literature and technology are as necessary to building energy and engagement to raise climate awareness, as they are to mitigating and problem-solving the ecological emergency we find ourselves in the midst of.
As a climate activist, promoting increased renewable energy, clean air, water, safe food, healthy wildlife habitats and a livable planet for the future, I attend workshops, conferences and summits to remain relevant and well-informed. I am able to ask and answer questions, working with adults in threatened and impacted communities.
As a high school environmental science teacher of sophomores, juniors and seniors, I could offer primary research to students, allow them draw their own conclusions and answer their questions frankly.
As a middle school science teacher, I find myself always looking for ways to present bold information in a positive way that is honest and straightforward without being too overwhelming. As students have begun to follow Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, and other young activists, they are becoming empowered and engaged in their schools and communities. These youth are already helping to guide our communities, and as adults will have the opportunity to sit where you do now. Together, we can build the inspiration and engagement that their generation, and many to come, will need to face problems of enormous consequence.
Proclaiming a day of climate awareness formalizes our concern as united communities of New Hampshire, a state that is already experiencing very serious climate impacts.
Our shores are part of the Gulf of Maine, the waters of which are warming faster than in any other place on Earth. The fishing industry is being impacted by lobster moving north trying to survive in cooler waters, declining shrimp, cod and other marine species.
Tourism is essential to a strong economy in scenic NH. Snow, moose, bears, loons, whales, maple trees and maple syrup are all in decline and are a threat to our economic stability. We are watching our scenic state change before our very eyes.
Can declaring a “Climate Awareness Day” really be meaningful? Yes. The first to respond to a day that proclaims we must prioritize a health future is likely to be embraced by educators and young people. Making this concern official tells the youth of New Hampshire that we acknowledge their concerns and are willing to listen and learn from them. It is the youth that teach their elders, not the other way around, when it comes to embracing change. Let us be the ones to show our support and willingness to put their needs, their education first. It is up to us to make sure they are prepared with the information, skills and technology they will need in a changing job market.
Across the nation and planet, schools are going solar, have wind turbines, rain and rooftop gardens, teach sustainable farming and teach problem-solving through student-designed inventions.
October 1st was chosen as the date for a climate awareness day because it is towards the beginning of the school year and at a time when we are all visually aware of the beauty that surrounds us in a palette of autumn tones. The maple tree that we revere for its color and the sweetness it brings to our springs, is a symbol of our changing environment.
Today I ask you to remember that science is not political. Policy that supports health, safety and future generations is just good business for New Hampshire. At a time when we are concerned about youth leaving the state, we can show them that we know the challenges they will face and that in an ongoing conversation, we will work to prepare them for the economic, environmental and community challenges their state will face as they become Granite State leaders. Let us send a message now that they can stay, work, play in New Hampshire, because we are preparing for the world they will inherit.
I ask you to please support HB 1228 and a day of climate awareness in New Hampshire. I also hope that you will support HB 1625, requiring climate education for NH’s pre-K through 12th grade students.
With the healthy future of New Hampshire’s students in mind,
Stephanie A. Scherr
NH certified science educator Climate action and clean energy community advocate
• Email your testimony in support of HB 1226, declaring October 1st "NH Climate Awareness Day": HouseExecutiveDepartmentsAndAdministration@leg.state.nh.us
• Email your testimony in support of HB 1625, requiring climate education for all NH pre-K through grade 12 students: HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
“Most of us are familiar with heat waves on land, but in a warming world, heat waves are starting to become common in the ocean, too. One basin in particular, the normally cool Gulf of Maine in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, has seen several heat waves in recent years and has spent most of 2018 with unusually warm water temperatures.
On August 8, 2018, scientists using satellite data and sea-based sensors measured the second warmest sea surface temperatures ever observed in the Gulf of Maine. Average water temperatures reached 20.52 degrees Celsius (68.93 degrees Fahrenheit) that day, just 0.03°C (0.05°F) below the record set in 2012.”
Governor Sununu: 2019 Inaugural address, referring to Project Green Schools
“I believe service to our citizens begins with management and customer service. The goal should be to create an all-inclusive welcoming environment where people can serve NH's citizens. To be able to say 'This is who we are and how can we help. Therefore the obligation is on us to push the limits, think outside of the box, get out of our comfort zones and simply to do more. It's one of the reasons I have been known to partake in a variety of "experiences".
“that environment begins with workforce driven investments in education. Starting with early childhood education, full-day kindergarten and continuing through undergraduate education and workforce training”
"It goes without saying that students are experiencing new and more intense kinds of stress both inside and outside of the classroom. Helping students with the skills needed to successfully manage that stress, how to understand and manage their emotions, cultivate empathy and develop positive relationships is critical to keeping that student out of crisis or a mental health challenge.”
“I want to take a moment a brag a bit about my amazing wife. One of the many brilliant ideas that Valerie has had to help bring people together was to really open up the Bridges House to make it a gathering place of ideas. She calls it "Building Bridges at the Bridges". It's been wonderful to be able to bring in non-profits, organizations and just regular citizens to be integrated in what's happening in the state. And as many of you know as a former school teacher she's been very passionate about bring students and initiatives together. One of those is Project Green Schools. It's a national program that awards grants to student-driven environmental projects."
"And on one afternoon, student groups from across the state came to the Bridges house and did a sort of "shark-tank" style presentation for a panel of us that judged the projects and awarded grants supported by corporate partners of the project. We had a project presented from a young girl to help reduce the amount of paper used in the classroom, a team from Portsmouth high school that was building their own outdoor learning space, there were a few others and it was great. It was great to see the innovation and initiative these students took. Not just for the sake of doing a project, but with real thought of the costs, outcomes and benefits. The How's and Why's of each project and I thought it was a wonderful testament to our schools.
You all know how passionate I am about energy policy in our state and how intertwined energy policy is with environmental policy. When you have some of the highest rates of electricity in the country, this issue must be at the forefront as it effects every citizen stuck paying a bill. It's why we need to continue supporting an 'All of the Above' energy portfolio, as outlined in the state's 10 year energy strategy.
I have always said we should view energy policy through the lens of the ratepayer. And I hear a lot of talk from legislators that say YES, they will fight for lower electric rates, but then vote for legislation that raises rates and burden our citizens. You can't have it both ways. If you want to talk about lowering rates than support legislation that does just that.
It is the most vulnerable among us, seniors and individuals on fixed incomes, that are at the greatest risk of high electric rates.“I think it is time that we refocus our efforts on them, and I am advocating today that renewable energy initiatives should benefit low income ratepayers first and foremost. Whether it's solar, or wind, or battery storage, we need to ensure that the benefits of these well-intentioned programs deliver results to the people who are struggling to pay the bill each month. While other states have unfortunately decided to put developers' interests ahead of ratepayers, in New Hampshire we must put the people first.”
Climate change enters its blood-sucking phase (The Atlantic)
“the time, in the early 2000s, climate change was being heavily studied as a potential disruptor of New England wildlife, but the focus in current-day wildlife management was still on how to handle the expansion of formerly depleted species, including moose. In a 2002 paper titled “Wildlife Dynamics in the Changing New England Landscape,” for instance, a particularly prominent team of regional ecologists at the Harvard Forest research area concluded that the main challenge for managing the moose and other large mammals in the region was their continued expansion. No one was worried yet about climate dinging moose populations. As Pete Pekins would later note, “Moose managers concluded that the winter tick epizootic in  was an anomaly and that the moose population would make a strong comeback in subsequent years, compensating for the losses.”
“It soon became apparent that they had badly underestimated both the possibility of rapid climate change and the explosive effect that change could have on both moose ticks and young moose.”
”One of the tragedies of this dilemma—the essence of it—is that whether we shoot the moose or let the ticks suck the young dry, it is we humans, whether through gunshot or climate change, that are killing moose."
Valerie Sununu video for Greenschools with her son on greening up NH even more “especially because we have the future to think about, like this guy right here!”