Richards and 20-odd seventh graders sit transfixed as Vasquez tries to tease out the difference between the greenhouse effect and global warming by tossing out absurd half-truths. “Carbon dioxide’s completely harmless,” Vasquez says. Should we ban Coca Cola because of the carbonation?
Penny’s hand shoots up. “The greenhouse effect”—which keeps our planet warm enough for life to survive—”is completely natural,” she counters. “With mining fossil fuels, you’re taking something out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere.”
These days, big questions about energy use and ecological balance punctuate Vasquez’s classes throughout the year. Her students meet climate scientists and calculate how many desalination plants it would take to turn rising seas into a sustainable source of fresh water (too many). Read more >>