Air Quality Interns Explore Merits of a Carbon Tax


On Thursday, January 5th, the Richmond Air Quality Interns spoke with Put A Price On It campaigner Tom Erb to learn more about creative solutions to climate change.

Erb, a college student traveling to raise awareness about the idea of a carbon tax, was recently featured in an episode of the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously. The episode, “Priceless” explores some of the tangible evidence of climate change like the decline of elephant populations in parts of Africa. Young people from around the country also share their efforts to promote the taxing of carbon emitters.

“A carbon tax is a tax that companies would pay because of the carbon [they] released into the air.” – Jaqeuline Miranda

The Air Quality Interns screened the episode with Tom, and then discussed his campaign efforts. And the good and bad of a carbon tax.

“I believe this is a good thing because then carbon dioxide will be reduced and maybe we can slow down global warming.” – Linda Marquez

The Interns also practiced some of the skills Tom has learned for speaking with public officials about promoting a cause.

“You can educate people about what a carbon tax is and why it’s important. You could talk to the government (local or federal) or make a petition.” – Valeria Rocha


Air Quality Interns Investigate Biking in Richmond


Bike East Bay visited the Richmond High School Air Quality Internship on December 8th, 2016. Cynthia Armour, the Advocacy Manager at Bike East Bay, shared with the interns about ongoing and future bike infrastructure development projects in Richmond. She also spoke about different biking opportunities like Bike to Work/School Day in May.

Armed with a map of Richmond and markers, the interns mapped their current transportation route in a color indicating their mode of travel; for example, driving. Next the interns used google maps on a phone or ipad to determine a legitimate bike route, and they mapped this also on their paper map.

With Cynthia, the interns also discussed why people already bike to school and what prevents them from doing so. The interns will use this information to create surveys to distribute in their school to gather more data about student bike ridership.

Air Quality Interns Calculate Their Carbon Emissions

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On December 1st, 2016, the Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School measured the amount of carbon they emit by traveling to and from school each week. They started by gathering data on how they each travel – walking, driving, bus, ect. Next they determined the milage for the round trip they each travel. Other information was considered such as each car’s MPG and number of passengers in a carpool. Finally with all the input they used the Transportation Action Project (TAP) Calculator developed for Earth Team by MTC and BAAQMD consultants in 2010 to assess VMT-CO2 emissions.


The interns will next consider ways they can reduce their transportation carbon emissions and attempt to travel differently.


Richmond High Air Quality Plant Air Cleaning Trees

Interns pose with a trident maple tree they planted.

Did you know that trees clean the air?! Tree filter air by removing particulate matter that is harmful to your health. On Saturday November 5th, 2016, the Richmond High School Air Quality Interns planted 8 trees for a school in El Sobrante.


A graphic provided to Earth Team by Forestry Professor Dr. Joe McBride illustrates trees ability to remove pollutants from the air. Particulate matter, like pollen, ash, and dust, is small enough to penetrate deep into our lungs and cause health problems. Trees help filter these particles from the air.


The interns learned how to properly plant and stake the trees in a way that will give it the best chance of growing tall and healthy. They also learned to appreciate the amount of work it takes to plant a tree. The Interns worked hard to dig holes, move the heavy 15 gallon trees in their pots, and pound in stakes.


Richmond Air Quality Interns Share at a Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan Workshop

Air Quality Interns marking an intersection that feels unsafe to cross.

On Thursday evening, November 17th, the Richmond High School Air Quality Interns joined city planners, community advocate groups, and local residents to learn and share at the San Pablo Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan Workshop.


Increasing active transportation like walking and biking can be an effective strategy for reducing carbon emissions and particulate matter pollution in a city. At the workshop, the students learned about the upcoming EPA funded Greet Streets Project and shared their own experiences walking and biking in San Pablo. The interns scribbled notes on maps where they felt unsafe walking, where they suggested stop signs and lights are needed, and denoted other areas of concern. They also shared with San Pablo city staff about their own barriers to biking in the city.

The lessons from the workshop will be valuable in the weeks ahead, as the interns map bike routes to their school and attempt to inspire their classmates to use more active transportation.

Richmond Air Quality Interns Shine Light on Personal Emission of Carbon


This week, the Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School, taught each other about different ways people produce carbon dioxide, and other green house gases (GHGs). During the previous week, students worked in groups to research different activities and how much GHGs they produce. They learned that almost everything we do makes GHGs.

Some of things the students learned were surprising. One group of students taught the rest of the class that taking a 15 minute shower creates 6 lbs of CO2. Another group presented on air travel and calculated that around 93,000 lbs of carbon released is release from a plane trip to Mexico City. (That’s about the same amount as 15,300 showers!) Other groups presented on carbon produced by eating meat, charing your cell phone, lighting on light bulb, and driving a personal vehicle.

Next week the interns will examine their own daily routines to determine just how much carbon they individually create each year.


Air Quality Interns Reflect on Climate Change


The Richmond High School Air Quality Interns have recently started learning about climate change. They reflected on what they have learned so far.

“One surprising fact that we learned about climate changed was that even one degree has change the world dramatically to the point that coral reefs are dying.” -Linda M. and Mariana M. 

“We learned that increasing [the Earth] by one degree can cause a lot of disaster. For example, drier lands, increase of sea level, uncontrollable fires like in Australia[during the ] drought-Ashley S. and Perla S.

When asked about what concerned them about Climate Change many were concerned about rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. One group was most concerned about other people’s awareness of Climate Change.

“What concern us is the drought, we won’t have water or food.” -Jacqueline M. and Briana M.

“That people will not pay attention to the seriousness of the situation.” -Ashley S. and Perla S.

The interns shared their ideas about how to help stop temperatures from rising to a dangerous level. Most suggested using less electricity, stop eating as much meat, riding bikes and public transportation more often, and educating others about climate change. Some had ambitious goals for us.

“We need to try to go vegan.” -Linda M. and Mariana M. 

Over the next few weeks the Air Quality Interns will learn about their own carbon foot print and ways of reducing it.



The Richmond High School Air Quality Internship has started!


Another year of internships has begun and both the Urban Forestry and Air Quality Internships at Richmond High School is off to a great start. The Air Quality Interns started their introduction to learning the topics of human health and air, air pollutants, and climate change.

This year the Air Quality Interns will be measuring carbon emission and developing strategies for their school to reduce the students’ carbon footprints. The interns will also look at hazardous sources of particulate matter in their community and create a proposal to help reduce air pollution in areas of need in Richmond.

Next week the students will begin to a closer look at the subject of climate change.

Among the topic introduced, Interns discussed ozone issues.

Davis Park Cleanup

On Monday, April 25th, Richmond High interns set out to complete one of their final cleanups for the year. When we arrived at Davis Park, we divided into groups and set out to remove as much litter as we could from the creek. We even had community members stop to check out our work.

In just one meeting we were able to pull out over 20 pounds of litter from Wildcat Creek.Our biggest find was a propane BBQ grill that was left dumped in the creek. One of the biggest challenges was having to leave litter items we could not pull out because they were out of reach. Overall it was a successful day with making a difference in our community.