Solana Beach kids start nationwide letter-writing effort for climate change

A group of Solana Beach kids are hoping to raise national awareness for global warming in a letter- writing campaign to President-elect Donald Trump, beginning on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

The effort, called Kids4PlanetEarth, began late last year when mothers Ann Wycoff, a journalist, and Heidi Dewar, a marine biologist, decided more people should be aware of the climate change and invited their children to help spread the word.

“I think Heidi and I were both concerned about what’s going on with the environment, and particularly with the new administration coming in if they were going to address climate change,” Wycoff said. “We’ve been hearing different opinions on how much they’re supporting the idea and notion of climate change. ... We knew the kids cared as well.”

The group watched the documentary “Before the Flood” to learn about the potential dangers of climate change, including dying populations, the spread of infectious diseases and more extreme weather events, like hurricanes and intense heat waves.

Dewar added the next generation will “suffer more than we will” if nothing is done now.

This led to the children deciding to write letters and send in drawings regarding their feelings on climate change to the White House. Their mission has since spread to “ambassadors” in other states, and more than 10,000 people have pledged so far to send in letters, according to the group’s website, kids4planetearth.org.

The goal is to have one million letters sent to Trump’s office by Earth Day on April 22.

“It just shows that global warming is a serious issue,” said Madeline Carlson, 14, an eighth grader at Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach. “One of the issues that really got to me is, since we live on the coast, the warmer temperatures are melting glaciers... and causing the water levels to rise. That can cause flooding in beach towns like Solana Beach.”

She was also concerned with the population of polar bears dropping dramatically.

Luke Halpern, a 13-year-old eighth grader at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, said he was concerned about less snow melt.

He said that affected him directly because his family owns a cabin in the Sierra mountains.

Luke said he decided to “appeal to Trump’s business side” in his letter.

“There’s a large market in renewable energy sources, so I thought that maybe if he saw that he would decide there was a good business opportunity and maybe be willing to take more initiative,” he said.

The ultimate goal is for Trump to be aware of global warming, said Olivia Wheadon, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Earl Warren. About 97 percent of scientists believe human activity is causing significant climate change, according to Kids4PlanetEarth’s research.

“I don’t want [Trump] to think global warming isn’t the most important thing we have to deal with right now,” Olivia said.

Dewar said it was essential for the kids to get involved so they know that, even though they can’t vote yet, their voice still matters.

“It’s certainly very encouraging because it’s their planet and almost more so than ours at this point,” she said. “To see them sort of take the reigns and push things in the right direction through advocacy is great to see. I think in the long-term, people feel a bit disconnected from politics, so to start at this early age is important. I think that’s as important as the whole climate change issue.”

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