Hellgate Teacher Discusses Climate Change

Hellgate High School science teacher, Eric Ojala, brings his passion and concern about climate change to the classroom. He graduated from Hellgate in 1991 and has been teaching here for the past ten years. Ojala has been interested in science for a long time. “I was pretty nerdy in high school, and took four years of science including serving as a student aid for my chemistry teacher my senior year,” he said.
Ojala went on to college at the University of Montana and Montana State University. “I used that strong science background to pursue science in college, initially environmental engineering,” said Ojala. Now he lives in Lolo with his wife and daughter, who also attends Hellgate.
Ojala realizes the importance of climate change and brings that to his teaching. “I incorporate climate change in many aspects of my Earth Science and IB Environmental Science curricula, including units in each class that specifically talk about cause, effect and response to climate change.” He takes the topic very seriously. “I think that it’s the most important issue that students can be knowledgeable about.”
His biggest concern about climate change is “the fact that world leadership doesn’t take it seriously, and doesn’t treat it like the existential threat that it is.” Ojala wants people to understand “the science of climate change is as certain as the science of gravity. But in the U.S. we’re still debating whether or not it exists or if humans are involved.” Ojala continued to drive home the point, “It would be stupid for us to debate if gravity exists but that is exactly what we’re doing with climate change. Action must be taken and to date it has not.”
Ojala hopes that we can address climate change with the same urgency as issues such as the space race, the cold war and ozone depletion. According to Ojala, “The U.S. needs to become a world leader again, one that sets an example and pulls the rest of the world towards a more sustainable environmental future.”
Ojala has strong opinions about leadership policy and priority. “No other issue is more important than the sustainability of life on Earth and the human induced mass extinction that we are generating…we need to put leaders in place that will respond decisively and quickly.”
Ojala is passionate about this topic and believes in taking necessary steps towards change before we are “past the point of no return.”