July 24, 2024

     Climate change has become one of the most pressing global issues of our generation. Man-made pollution has the potential to collapse ecosystems and artificially nudge thousands of species into extinction. Global warming has even caused an increase in malaria and dengue as disease-carrying mosquitoes stray further and further away from the warming equator. As the consequences of human pollution are becoming more apparent, many people have begun to wonder what they can do to make a difference. 

     In order to make a positive impact, Maine West’s Environmental Club relaunched itself this year after five years of dormancy.”You’re always driving by trash in the streets, and it’s sad to see. We want to be able to make a dent in that pollution,” freshman club leader Patrick Christianson said. 

     To achieve their goals, the Environmental Club came across a butterfly garden at Homestead, the white farmhouse located at the far end of the stadium. “When the club was previously active, they did fundraising to set up a wind turbine at Homestead. Upon reactivation, Mr. Stettner, the manager of Homestead and Special Education teacher, reached out to us to see if we were interested in helping to clean up and plant at the butterfly garden. We were more than happy to help,” Environmental Club’s teacher sponsor Lee Karpiak said. With donations from the local garden center store, Lurvey’s, they hope to create an environment where plant and bug life can thrive. “You always hear that the bees and the monarch butterflies are going extinct, so we wanted to create an environment to help them out,” Christianson said.

     Although bug lives may not matter to many people, their importance in our world is underappreciated.  Healthy insect and bug populations are necessary for human life to continue on this planet. “These bugs pollinate for the plants and help the food chain in our environment function properly. With their rapid disappearances, the disruption in the chain would cause a ripple effect on us larger animals, creating an unstable for us to live in,” Karpiak said. “As an example of the ripple effect, the plant life suffering from the death of their pollinators won’t be able to recycle carbon dioxide humans breathe out and produce the oxygen we need to live.”

  For those willing to take the extra step, reaching out to senators or house representatives from Illinois and asking them to support environmentally friendly bills can make a big difference. “Keep an eye out for legislative action and bills and make your opinions heard. Get out and protest or send them letters.  By implementation, our government is a reactionary process, so we need to make sure our politicians know what course of action we want them to take,” Earth Systems teacher Dan Fraker said. 

     Making a difference locally, the club was approached by Maine West’s building services department to see if they were interested in designing the flower beds outside of the school. Naturally, the club accepted. “During the winter, we’re hoping to do some research about what to plant in the beds. We want to make the school seem more inviting and lively, and beautiful plant life will definitely help out with that,” Karpiak said. 

    Whether or not people recognize the impact of what they’re doing, the Environmental Club plans to attempt to make a difference anyway. “We set out to make change happen. If in the process, people recognize our efforts and want to join along the way, that’s all the better. But no matter what, we’ll do our best,” Karpiak said. 


Photo by Lee Karpiak

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