On Bill Kehoe's Response to Climate Strike (Athena K. - Sept '19)

Published in the Stevens County Times

Dear editor:

On Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20 students and others gathered to learn about global climate change and to engage in the effort to slow its effects. Young people around the world participated in similar events.

Here in Morris, the principal of our high school, Bill Kehoe, informed students and parents that the school “is not associated with any position other than neutrality on matters of political controversy.” (The italics are mine.)

Mr. Kehoe, it seems, needed to be at the rally to learn about global climate change. It is not something on which one takes a position, unless that position is like an emu with its head in the sand, but then, if you were that emu you’d be experiencing a threat to your species and habitat because of global climate change, and the sand would be too hot to put your head in.

There is no neutral when it comes to global climate change. Whether Mr. Kehoe thinks it’s happening or not, he is being and will continue to be affected financially by its consequences. A Washington Post story in January reported that “According to a National Climate Assessment report released by the federal government last year, climate change can be expected to place an enormous drag on the U.S. economy throughout this century — upward of an estimated $500 billion in costs per year due to crop losses, coastal flooding and health risks, among other harms.”

Finally, Mr. Kehoe calls this crisis a matter of political controversy. What’s controversial is that an educational leader in Minnesota considers the global climate crisis something about which there is disagreement. Scientists around the world are in absolute agreement that the planet is warming, that billions of people are at risk of losing homes and lives, that millions of species are disappearing from the earth, and that each and every one of us is at risk from this accelerating process.

We can only hope that Mr. Kenoe’s head-in-the-sand attitude is not reflected by the other educators in our public schools.

Athena Kildegaard

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