MORE VOICES for TOMORROW

These opinion pieces were written by juniors at High Tech High Chula Vista as a part of an Election 2020 project in their humanities class. Students selected an issue of importance to them and researched what impact the issue has on their community. Some of those opinion pieces are published here as part of The Star-News’s commitment to community collaboration and engagement.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

In Southern California we are being attacked by climate change on two sides. On one side we are experiencing wildfires, while on the other side water levels are rising. With our most recent fire season, the fires spread quickly, some citizens were not able to evacuate in time while others lost their homes and belongings. One way out of this crisis is to vote for politicians who think about the relationship between climate change and our planet instead of dismissing this issue and denying its existence.

The weather is drastically changing and water levels are rising. Climate change may not directly affect people right now but soon the consequences of it will be irreversible. For these reasons we must vote for Biden in 2020.

As seen all over the world, the weather is changing. Due to greenhouse gases, the weather and climate related events have been becoming a bigger issue. According to the National Climate Assessment, the increase of heat is causing areas to experience heat waves and droughts. It is causing ice to melt which raises sea levels. Since there is more moisture in the air, heavy downpours have increased over the past three decades.

As the planet becomes warmer, water levels have risen. Climate.gov states that water levels have risen about nine to eight inches since 1880 and are expected to keep rising. Glaciers and ice sheets are melting therefore, adding water into the ocean. This isn’t the best situation because almost 40% of people in the United States live in coastal areas. The rising waters can cause more flooding and destructive storm surges.
Even with a warming climate and rising waters, there are many who are reluctant to act on this issue, and soon the consequences of it will be irreversible. The New York Times wrote that climate change is accelerating and we are coming close to our tipping point. The amount of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions in our atmosphere isn’t good and is continuing to rise.

We need to take action against climate change if we want our planet to heal.

Joe Biden wants to return to the Paris Agreement and reduce greenhouse gases in order to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. While his plan may not be flawless, we need to vote someone into office that will make a change. We need someone who is going to try their best in order to make our planet a better living space for many years to come.

— Madison Rader

The year is 2050 and you are walking out of the Horton Plaza Mall, you look towards the convention center and see the remains of what used to be a dry, above-water, building and think back to Comic Con. You walk down the street until you get to the water, where you can see the flooded Petco Park and the giant stadium walls and metal platforms slowly rusting.

A leading cause of this is greenhouse gasses that are getting stuck in the atmosphere and thinning the ozone layer. Although we can downsize the emissions by using cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

As you may know it has been getting very hot, and the weather is getting progressively worse each year, we can thank carbon emissions and global warming for that. Scientists like Rebecca Lindsey, and Michon Scott from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), has claimed that “because greenhouse-gas emissions warm the Earth’s climate, it’s possible our planet has seen its last glaciation for a long time.” Honestly humans most likely won’t be able to survive that heat.

And beyond that, neither will most of the life on earth.
Since the earth is getting warmer sea levels are rising and will wipe out some cities,but there’s not much we can do at this point because it’s already in effect. According to NOAA, it is estimated that by the end of the decade the water will have risen at least one foot since the year 2000. It’s mostly due to a combination of melting water from glaciers/ice sheets, and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.

The atmosphere is getting warmer and gases are making the atmosphere thinner over time. Greenhouse gases are a leading cause of this, but can be reduced by using cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. It has been proven by NASA’s Earth Observatory that densely populated cities like Seoul, Guangzhou, New York, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles are found to have the largest carbon footprints in the world. But with Joe Biden’s plan for renewable energy along with solar powered electricity carbon emissions can be reduced by 2030/2035.

After looking at all of the evidence you can see that actions must be taken sooner rather than later. At this point there is nothing we can do about the already rising sea levels other than adapt to them and try not to make it worse, because I can guarantee you that downtown will be flooded and parts of Coronado will be underwater.

—Sophia Fernando

I’ve been living in California my whole life and I have noticed that it is getting hotter every year. As a kid I did not know what was going on. As a teen it hurts that I can’t make a change by myself. We should all work together to stop global warming.

I think it’s time to make a change. If we don’t solve this issue soon, we will see more animals die and more change in the environment.

The first thing you have to know about global warming is that it kills animals. Global warming is melting glaciers and destroying polar bear homes. According to ThoughtCo, some of the wildlife species hardest hit by global warming include caribou (reindeer), arctic foxes, toads, polar bears, penguins, gray wolves, tree swallows, painted turtles, and salmon. The group fears that unless we take decisive steps to reverse global warming, more and more species will join the list of wildlife populations pushed to the brink of extinction.

The second fact is that we are destroying the world. According to Forbes, the world is getting hotter and global warming is destroying our ecosystem. Global warming will destroy life on Earth in the end: not just human life, but all life on the planet’s surface, including in the seas. Long before the sun becomes a red giant and starts fusing helium, the temperatures on our world will rise too high for plants, animals or any creatures we know to survive. If we don’t stop global warming all life on earth is going to die.

—Emiliano Serrano

POLICE BRUTALITY

On May 25, 2020, a brutal video was released. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer kneeled down on a man’s neck, ignoring his words “I can’t breathe”. I could not bring myself to finish watching.

I’ve watched action movies showing violence. But this was real. It was not some staged action movie. This was real life and an officer, who protects civilians, murdered an innocent man.

One reason why officers need more training is because they use unnecessary violence. Even when things are going smoothly, officers tend to resort to violence even though it is not necessary.

To prevent this, we should require officers to have more hours of training. Jobs that are nowhere near as dangerous as being an officer require more hours of training than the police department requires. According to the Institute of Criminal Justice, “Police departments on average require officers to complete 672 hours of basic training before joining the force”.
Other jobs, such as a plumber, require completing trade school, which can take up to five years, to be able to get their license. To become a barber, you need to train around 1,300 hours.
Not only do officers need more training, but also anti-racist training.

Having racist police officers, the very people who are supposed to serve and protect their own community, is one of the worst things we can have.

In a story published by the research journal Nature “white officers dispatched to Black neighbourhoods fired their guns five times as often as Black officers dispatched for similar calls to the same neighbourhoods”. This shows that white officers target people in the Black community more.

We are tired of seeing Black people be murdered, and that the cops responsible for it face no consequences and get away with it. This is not an easy problem to get rid of. Officers will keep targeting the Black community, they will still use unnecessary violence and the amount of training required won’t be raised, but throughout time, we could work on making decisions that will help police departments better their ways of training their officers.

— Melissa Iniguez

STEM CELL RESEARCH

While treatments for Alzheimers are still in development, all research has to start somewhere. Prop. 14 would fund more stem cell research.

Right now, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, “More than 60,000 people in San Diego and Imperial counties are living with Alzheimer’s disease.” That means there are 60,000 families that have less time with loved ones that will remember them; 60,000 families that are having to find care for their loved ones.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is 4 – 8 years. Although people can live up to 20 years after diagnosis, their quality of life is not the same. The final stages of Alzheimer’s disease have already taken their lives due to many challenging symptoms.

Thankfully, there’s people working to find a cure.

The initial stages of research being done aren’t perfect, but there has to be a starting point.

Prop. 14 is one of the stepping stones to defeating this disease taking the lives of over 60,000 people in San Diego.

—Benjamin George

CORONAVIRUS

One evening after hanging out at the park playing basketball, my brother got a call from one of our friends saying someone he came in contact with had the coronavirus. I thought about what could happen if I gave it to my parents or grandparents; my brother and I came to a realization that this is a real issue.

We all got tested and thankfully we all came out negative, but this shows that you don’t know who people have come in contact with so always be cautious and wear your masks, social distance, and wash your hands.

The very first but easy thing we need to do is to wear our masks. This guideline must be mandatory everywhere in the state whether it be at the beach, parks, and in stores.

According to the CDC, experiments conducted by many scientists prove that masks prevent droplets of germs. In an experiment, they found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were created by simply talking. Masks prevent those droplets of germs from escaping and traveling to others.

Another major step that takes little effort is washing your hands. It is scientifically proven by the CDC that washing your hands eliminates massive amounts of bacteria. Although it doesn’t eliminate all the germs on your hands, it still saves yourself from the germs and bacteria that could potentially affect your health.

Finally, remain social distancing and stray away from group get-togethers. According to the CDC, remaining around 6 feet is the adequate distance you should be between people outside of your household. This is because sneezes, breathing, and talking could all transmit germs within a range of only 3 feet.

Don’t do what I did and get into big gatherings because as careless as I was that day, I could have contracted the coronavirus. I strongly believe mask-wearing, washing your hands, and remaining a social distance are all things you should do to play your role in this pandemic.

—Jayden Ramos

It’s late March, and we have just heard about a new virus that allowed us to take off school for a couple of weeks before spring break. We all thought and made jokes about it being like Ebola or yellow fever; if we had known then how big of a deal it actually was we wouldn’t have been making those jokes.

This is the situation that many if not all of us have had to face and worry about. In May I  realized we needed to prevent the spread and not adapt to it and allow politics not to be intertwined with science. The next president of the United States needs to encourage safe practices and not let this pandemic become any bigger than it already is.

One step that our lawmakers can make is to put a mandatory mandate on masks. This mandate will allow for the de-escalation of the spread and not have the virus come into contact with people that are negative. Masks are a great low-cost temporary solution to the pandemic and are very much accessible to a lot of people. The only problem that masks present is that they are not 100% in keeping you and your family safe.

Still,wearing a mask proportionally decreases your chances of getting the virus according to the Center for Disease Control.

Overall wearing a mask will not end this pandemic but only slow it down until we are able to control it.

Another way we can help keep people safe is to have testing for the virus more accessible and have the results come faster.

Recently there have been 150 million rapid tests that were sent around the United States of America and this has allowed people to know if they do have the virus and and enter into a self quarantine. Having testing become more of a priority and having it more widespread will allow us to see who has the virus and not let them spread it to anyone. We need someone who has or will have a plan that will help us move past this and recover.

We need to start seeing people in power follow and make laws that help protect us from this virus instead of following their political view. There has been a study done by the FDA that shows us the way that COVID-19 is transmitted but people chose to not believe it and only follow what their political and/or personal beliefs are.

This way of thinking has not allowed us to progress with slowing down the spread but has made us look foolish and uneducated. We need our politicians to be looking at the science and follow CDC guidelines to be role models on what we should be doing.

It has been 7 months and we are still not back in school. We need now more than ever strong officials that will give us guidance and look at the science instead of their political beliefs. I hope in the near future we can conquer this pandemic and rebuild our economy and rebuild as a society.

—Josh Albertson

For the past seven months my entire life has changed because of COVID-19. People in my family have passed away and we couldn’t hold funerals, couldn’t visit them during their last days.

I don’t visit family and friends, and don’t know the next time I will. It seems as if nothing has gotten better, cases increase everyday. I feel that if the federal government had a better response and worked harder to enforce more policies that would keep us safer during such a dangerous pandemic, we could prevent far more deaths.

In order to see positive change in such desperate times, I encourage you to go out and vote to elect a new president who will prioritize the safety of their people. Our government’s failure has led to misinformation being spread, the virus becoming a politicized issue, and while electing a new president will not end the pandemic, having positive and strong leadership would put our country on track to recovery.

The first issue that comes with having a president who does not show leadership is how he allowed and even spread himself misinformation about the coronavirus. Despite the president saying we have one of the lowest mortality rates, John Hopkins University reported that the US is actually the leader in most cases and top 10 for most deaths.

The Washington Post stated 6 out of 10 Americans do not wear masks in public settings because they believe that nothing will happen to them or they simply do not care. The misinformation they are being fed about the virus has led them to believe they are somehow immune, that the situation is not as bad as it’s portrayed to be.

Our president has also failed us by making COVID-19 a politicized issue. He claims that he knows more about the virus than his own specialists. He makes fun of people who wear masks, constantly downplaying the virus. Science surrounding COVID-19 has become a right vs. left issue because of this. A KFF Health Tracking Poll recorded that Democrats chose the coronavirus outbreak as prioritized in their voting decision, while Republicans prioritized the economy.

The CDC, a source specially designed to help out during pandemics, has become the target of much scrutiny by the Trump Administration and fellow Americans, who reject the recommended safety precautions that were meant to protect them in order to further push this narrative that the virus is not as bad as it seems.

While electing a new president may not make the virus go away, having someone new in office could finally start some positive change. The current president has shown a lack of leadership in his failed response to COVID-19, resulting in irreversible damages. There are 213,000 dead Americans, many whose death could have been prevented if our federal government had taken the correct action.

A study conducted by John Hopkins University confirmed that if 95% of our population started wearing masks 45,000 of the predicted coronavirus deaths by Nov 1, could be prevented.

Electing a president who will enforce safety guidelines such as mask wearing and much more is our only hope at saving lives.

My family is only one story out of millions who are struggling to adjust to a “new normal” caused by the pandemic. Even after all the deaths and people’s cries for help, even after getting the virus himself, Donald Trump has still not changed his stance on the virus and continues to push misinformation, use COVID-19 to benefit politically, and ignore what everyone is asking of him. The only solution is to vote him out and elect a new president who will actually listen to scientists, has a real plan, and most importantly, will care about you.

—Maryjane Contreras

IMMIGRATION

I come from a traditional Mexican family. While living with my grandma we knew that after eating dinner it was time for the novela. Typical Mexican telenovelas, focused on a love story, crossing international borders, a dysfunctional family, etc. This is where I first got introduced to the word “immigrantes.”

What I learned from these telenovelas was that immigrants come to the United States for more economic opportunities, often bringing their children with them. Now that I’m older, I found out about DACA, created by President Barrack Obama.

DACA gives undocumented individuals that were brought to the U.S. as children a chance to stay in the country without the risk of deportation, with the eligibility for a work permit and school.

I believe DACA is a program to be kept because of the benefits it provides for undocumented individuals.

In 2017 President Donald Trump said he was officially shutting down DACA. Critics were saying that Obama had overreached his power by creating this program but the Supreme Court disagreed.. They found that Mr. Trump’s argument was not a legally sufficient reason to shut down DACA. If the highest court in the land says that there is no legal reason DACA shouldn’t continue, then this program should be allowed to continue.

Not only is there no legal basis for stopping DACA, but DACA recipients help the economy, DACA recipients are required to either be studying or working. They come to this country in search of prosperity. Because of this reason many of them are willing to be placed in any type of location. No matter where or what they do for a living, it will always be more than what the minimum pay is in their home country.

Having these individuals in the U.S, does no harm. It actually helps us, and they have the opportunity in the life they wished for. We should all fight to keep DACA going, it is proven that there is no actual legally sufficient reason as to why this should happen, so why end it?

—Claudia Ramirez

DATA PRIVACY

Each year thousands of people’s credit card numbers are sold for less than a dollar from eCommerce data breaches. And this is barely just scratching the surface. There are chat rooms on the web where identities are bought, sold, and traded. While these occurrences don’t happen to everyone, you would be surprised how little legal protection there is for your online data and how difficult it is to protect your own privacy. Even though this issue impacts almost everyone, very few people know about it.
Proposition 24 can tackle this issue with stronger legal protection for personal data. Another example of how serious this issue can be, is found in the New York Times in 2019 a bank holding company Capital One was data breached causing exposure of 106 million customer’s personal data. This data consisted of sensitive data like Social Security numbers, and bank account numbers. This data was obtained by Capital One legally and they didn’t take enough measures to protect personal data, which shows that data privacy laws are an issue, which is what Proposition 24 is designed to diminish.

One of the reasons companies can get away with these practices is that most people don’t realize the kind of digital footprint they leave behind. Based on the class surveys we recorded less than 30% of the participants knew that California will decide whether or not to adopt stronger data privacy laws. And the percentage of people that actually know what happens to their data is without a doubt a scary sight to see. Your location, your text messages and emails, and call logs can all be collected legally by the websites and applications you use. If these are pieces of personal information that you think should remain personal, I encourage you to vote yes on Proposition 24.

Data privacy is an easy issue to overlook, including for me. Currently there is not enough legal protection for your data.

There is no reason for companies to have leverage over making data protection annoying to deal with.

—Mason Wilson

 

 

 

MORE VOICES for TOMORROW