Jane Fonda pays for Boise students to study climate change

Good News Notes:

Earlier this summer, Shiva Rajbhandari got an unknown call from Georgia. It’s not a call he’d normally pick up, he said, figuring it was spam.

But this time he answered. On the other end, Rajbhandari said, a woman introduced herself: “Hi, this is Jane Fonda,” she said.

Several weeks earlier, Rajbhandari, a junior at Boise High School, had reached out to the Hollywood icon because he and some of his classmates wanted to take a class at Boise State University focused on climate change. But the class was expensive.

So Rajbhandari sent a letter to Fonda, an actress and climate change activist, asking if she’d be willing to pay for one student to take the class. He’d planned to reach out to other celebrities, too, hoping they would agree to sponsor one student each.

When Fonda responded, she offered to pay for everyone, Rajbhandari said.

“It was the craziest thing,” he told the Idaho Statesman. “Jane Fonda called me on my cellphone. She was like, I want to pay.”

She had one condition, though. The students needed to do more than learn about climate change. They needed to take action. She asked that they deliver a Greenpeace petition to Rep. Mike Simpson’s office calling for the federal government to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

“So I was like, ‘Well, let’s do that,’ ” Rajbhandari said. “We are pros at organizing. Let’s make that happen.”

On Thursday, a group of students brought the petition, which has about 2 million signatures in total, to Simpson’s office. Those signatures include all of the students taking the class. And this week, thanks to Fonda — who donated $8,775 — the nine Boise High School students will start their climate change class at Boise State.

Rajbhandari started learning more about climate change in his seventh grade Earth science class.

“I think I’ve known for a long time that humans are destroying the planet,” he said. “But talking about how big of an impact this is going to have on my life, on my kid’s life, and for generations, we’re going to see the effects of this.”

At the time, he said, climate change wasn’t talked about nearly as much as it is now. He wasn’t seeing many people in power taking steps to try to help.

“In politics, we weren’t seeing any big action on this, (which) was really frustrating to me,” he said. “And I was like, ‘What can I do?’ ”

He knew simple things he could do, like recycling and turning off the lights. But “systemic solutions” are needed to solve the crisis, he said. So, he started getting involved with climate change activism.

Now, when he thinks about climate change, he thinks about the human aspect of it, and the damage it’s going to do to “especially vulnerable populations” across the country and world. Standing in his backyard, he pointed to the sky.

“My backyard, it’s all smoky, which is, you know, an increase in natural disasters, which are going to kill millions of people over the course of my lifetime. An increase in fires, drier weather, less water,” he said. “And you know, climate change is really the exacerbator of all issues.”

In the Boise School District, he said, he has learned a little about climate change, but not in nearly as much detail as he’d like. The classes he’s taken also don’t cover what can be done to stop it, he said. That’s part of what he wants to get out of the Boise State class.

“We think of how sick we are of hearing COVID in the news right now,” he said. “I’m sick of hearing climate change already. And we are not even to the worst of it yet.”

When he told his classmates about the Boise State class, a bunch of them wanted to join as well.

One of those students was Riley Gibson, a senior at Boise High. Gibson said she’s taking the class as a way to expand on what’s offered in high school. It’s important for teenagers to talk about climate change and its impact on the environment and people, she said.

“If you can have this foundation early, then you’re set up to make informed choices later on,” she said….

View the whole story here: https://amp.idahostatesman.com/news/local/education/article253250758.html

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