By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The students, all seniors and members of the Students for Sustainability club, will travel to the nation's capital using buses, ferries and trains.
The first leg, a bus ride from Port Townsend to the Bainbridge Island ferry, leaves at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, with a public sendoff at 9 a.m. at the Haines Street Park and Ride, 1615 W. Sims Way.
Nine boys and three girls are making the trip along with three chaperones.
Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson is scheduled to accompany them on the bus ride.
The students have booked several meetings with legislators and staff, with meetings confirmed with Pennsylvania Democrat U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, as well as with some of the Washington state delegation: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Whidbey Island; U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, whose 6th Congressional District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
Kilmer, who won't have time for an extended meeting in Washington, D.C., met with several members of the group Saturday in Gig Harbor.
“I applaud these students for their advocacy and dedication to educating legislators about climate change and ocean acidification. What these students are doing is important,” Kilmer said in a statement.
“It makes a difference when folks reach out to and share their concerns with their elected representatives. We are only as safe as the air we breathe, the water we drink and the Earth we pass on to our children and grandchildren. “
The students will go to the White House where they have a meeting set with the Presidential Council on Environmental Quality, according to chaperone Laura Tucker.
On the way, the students have scheduled stops and hope to gather petitions from schools and environmental groups to take to Washington and are also hoping to get some press coverage.
This has been difficult to schedule, Tucker said, because train arrival times are unreliable.
As they prepare for the trip, the students are getting last-minute help from community members, and on Monday, they heard a presentation from Robert Bindschadler, a retired NASA scientist living in Port Townsend.
Bindschadler warned the students that many of those they seek to convince may not be willing to hear the message, and they need to boil down the essentials of the message into a 60-second “elevator speech,”
“If you can't get it all down on one page, then you don't know the issue well enough,” he said.
He advised them to prepare a one-page summary to leave with the legislators in order to detail how the issue affects constituents and provide a course of action.
Bindschadler said the students should be prepared for the legislator to cut them off at any time because “they have another meeting to get to,” making the written summary essential.
Tough words to hear
Bindschadler said the danger from global warming is factual and cannot be refuted, but opponents don't want to hear that message.
“They don't want to be put in a position where they have to admit that it's true,” he said.
“There is rock solid data that global warming is happening. If you put C02 into the air, the lower portions of the atmosphere get warmer.
“Skeptics have no choice but to accept this unless they are able to rewrite physical law.”
While on the train, the students will study the issue and participate in classes.
The students are scheduled to return to Port Townsend on April 7.
To stay connected with the students during their trip, visit www.facebook.com/sfspths/.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.