Bay Area teen to represent U.S. at UNICEF forum

November 26, 2009 6:51:51 PM PST
China and the United States will attend the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen in early December. President Barack Obama is planning to call for drastic action to fight climate change, but one Menlo Park high school student is already doing that.

Menlo-Atherton High School senior Chloe Songer's mission is to enlighten others about climate change.

She is not shy about saying what needs to happen.

"Governments need to provide citizens opportunities for change, incentives," Songer said.

And, she says, they must led by example.

"Like Mrs. Obama has an organic garden; those things, then there's the peer pressure, that we are going to follow the White house and I think they need to set that example," Songer said.

Songer turned to June Flora, a former Stanford University researcher and now a climate activist, for guidance. Together they worked on a five-part curriculum that would help high school freshmen change their behavior to reduce greenhouse gases.

"We needed it to be entertaining, we needed it to be fun and relevant to this community," Songer said.

By doing things like showing a cow passing gas, she drove home the point that livestock gas is high in methane, which contributes to global warming.

"It gets the point across," she said.

Songer's presentations emphasized the need to buy local, which would save on transportation and therefore, gas emissions.

"I think that the peer pressure really worked, the idea that it was socially right to do this," she said.

"Sort of like recycling when you look around your neighborhood and everyone is recycling then you want to do it too and you feel the social pressure to do it," Flora said.

Her five point curriculum was so effective that Songer was chosen to be one of four Americans representing the United States at UNICEF'S children climate change forum.

There, 160 students representing 40 countries will hammer out a policy platform in Copenhagen, which will be presented to world leaders at the United Nations climate change summit in December.

"This is something that I am going to be dealing with that my generation is going to be dealing with, this is an issue that I am going to spend the rest of my life on and I'd like to start fixing it now," Songer said.


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