Letter: Climate emergency, not high school emergency

Do we want it to be a carbon spewing dinosaur the day it opens?

Climate emergency, not high school emergency

Cowichan Secondary School is old! The fact that I graduated from it in 1976 makes it pretty old. The fact that my mother was in the first class graduating from it in 1951 makes it 70, which really is old for a high school.

The good news is that plans have been made to build a shiny new replacement high school that will likely be attended by some of my grandchildren. The bad news is that they are not planning to make it a zero carbon emitting school.

The technology to build a zero carbon emitting building is readily available. I know this because nine years ago, we built a home in Cobble Hill that produces no greenhouse gases, while our solar panels generate and export surplus power annually, even after charging an electric car.

A small group of people concerned about sustainability and climate change reached out to some of the school design team. They have done a lot of commendable work to reduce greenhouse gases, but have had to sacrifice some important heat and energy saving options in order to save on building costs. And they may choose to make more carbon sacrifices if bids come in “too high”.

The question I would like to ask the kids that will be attending this school and who will be inheriting the future climate chaos that we are creating for them, is this: would you prefer a cheaper school now, or would you prefer to wait until there are enough adults in the room who will take the climate change crisis seriously and make the hard but necessary decision to build all new public infrastructure as close to zero carbon emissions as possible? After all, this new school will be at the heart of our community, serving our children for the next 50 to 70 years. Do we want it to be a carbon spewing dinosaur the day it opens?

We are not facing a new high school emergency. We, and more importantly our children, are facing a climate emergency made by us. And until we start responding as responsible caring adults should when faced with an emergency that threatens the well being of their children; this emergency will only get worse and our children will pay the ultimate price.

We found the time and money to face down the COVID emergency when it threatened mostly us old folks. Why can’t we employ the same sense of urgency when our children and grandchildren so badly need us to act now? It is not too late to stop this mistake, but it will require a lot of people to speak up loudly to the school board and the politicians. Time is running out on both the school and the climate change fronts!

David Slade

Cobble Hill