Why DHS should care about the Willow Project

A student looking at an Instagram post that explains the Willow Project on March 9th, 2023 in DHS halls.

A student looking at an Instagram post that explains the Willow Project on March 9th, 2023 in DHS halls.

The Willow Project is an oil drilling proposal in Alaska in an area that contains “600 million barrels of oil” according to CNN. This would release 9.2 million metric tons of carbon per year. For reference, this is the “equivalent to adding 2 million gas-powered cars to the roads” wrote Ella Nilsen for CNN in an article about the controversies. 

So why should you care about something that seems so far away? The answer is simple, climate change affects us all.

Madelyn Agre, a freshman at DHS stated her reason why DHS should care, saying, “…if we do nothing about stopping the Willow Project, no one at this school may have a future and will die from climate change”. 

She signed a Change.org petition to stop the Willow Project and her reason for doing so is that, “…I am worried about the environment constantly, and anything that I can do to help means the world to me”. 

She said people can help stop the project and its environmental damage by , “…signing the petition [at Change.org], donating if possible, and spreading as much awareness as possible”. 

Mrs. Short is the AP Environmental Science teacher at DHS and was asked if the curriculum includes teaching about real world issues like the Willow Project or the project itself. She said, “…we haven’t talked about the Willow Project…as of right now…[but] we talk about current events, they actually just did a current event article…they got to find a current event of their choice and kind of find the importance of it and why it matters and what we need to do about it…”. 

The curriculum also includes projects about designing things like a “city based on sustainability principles” or a “house that live…[s] off the power grid”. The challenge being to, “…have their own energy sources…heat their home…get water…and to lower their ecological footprint”. 

She said they do official current event assignments occasionally but they talk about the latest in environmental news all the time. For example she said, “…we just talked about Ohio and the trains and the derailment and what they decided to do with it…our unit right now is air pollution so that totally went into what we were talking about”. 

She also spoke about why the climate and environment matters to DHS, saying, “…i was just talking with one of my students…he was like ‘you know now that I’ve been taking this class I realize and I notice a lot more environmental things and i’m a lot more environmentally conscious about things…’”. 

She was asked what people can do to help stop the Willow Project in particular and she said, “…I know that there’s different petitions and ways that you can advocate and get your voice heard but at the end of the day, unfortunately I feel like a lot of that is in the hands of the government which is kind of sad”. 

It can be hard to feel like you can make a difference when you are just one person. But there are many ways you can help stop climate change and proposals like the Willow Project, by signing petitions or joining clubs like the DHS Green Team or WILD (Women In Leadership Development). You can send letters to government officials or spread awareness by telling your friends and family. 

As Agre puts it, “…if we do nothing climate change will forever be reversible”. 


Update: Despite opposition the Willow Project was approved by the Biden Administration on March 13, 2023.