People, Pollution, and Politics- George Papasavvas

The effect of people on the natural Earth is an issue that confronts our society today. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that there’s more than 90 percent probability that human polluting activities over the past two and a half centuries have caused the Earth to warm. Human induced pollution is a problem that has sparked the creation of more government bureaucracy worldwide including the Environmental Protection Agency in America and more recently in Australia, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Political parties such as The Greens are also attempting to combat this issue and are having a growing influence on the public. In writing this article, I aim to examine briefly: what the arguments against pollution are, who is responsible, what our solutions are (and whether they’ve been effective) and also what our solutions should be as we go into the future.

What is the issue with pollution?

Pollution has been responsible for the rapid development of a wide variety of goods and services that we enjoy today as a first world nation. Mobile phones, automobiles, laptops, iPad’s, televisions and even toothbrushes would not exist if it wasn’t for some form of pollution. Climate change lobbyists, activists and others sometimes argue as if the issue is one of pollution versus no pollution; however this is neither a desirable nor feasible objective. Instead, we must find an “appropriate” level of pollution in which the benefits of contaminating the environment outweigh the costs. Human pollution could easily be stopped if each of us held our breath long enough, however the costs would clearly outweigh the benefits. All vehicles could be taken off the road in order to eliminate the effect of the greenhouse gases expelled from cars, trucks etc. but the result would include: drastic increases in the price of agricultural and industrial goods, enormous increases in unemployment and landslide drops in productivity amongst other economic and social disasters. Our standard of life would deprecate many of us to extreme hardship and perhaps even death for some people. Having clean air comes at a cost just as the goods and services we buy do, hence we must decide whether the costs we are imposing on our society’s productive growth is worth the reduction in human pollution.   The difficulty with solving the issue of pollution occurs because it is a contention of subjective nature. Someone who rides his/her bike as their primary form of transport might consider cars a source of pollution however others will see them as an efficient travel method. Some may complain about the environmental damage that energy companies are causing, but again others may see them as a great source of fuel for the community. Regulating products due to their pollutant levels may win favour with some but will inevitably hurt others. In my opinion, the approach of coercion, rules and orders to control pollution is the primary obstacle when trying to resolve today’s environmental problem simply because it can be such a subjective issue. Pollution in my eyes is merely a quandary of more or less, nothing else.

Who is responsible?

In the case of pollution, there is a habit of making the issue one of good versus bad. As if evil capitalistic, profit seeking firms are exploiting our natural Earth in order to make a few bucks and good, noble government lobbyists and officials are here to stop them and protect the people. The true responsibility of pollution however does not lie with the electricity company that burns coal or the mining company that contaminates the soil, but rather it lies with the consumer. The consumer encourages businesses to continue making environmentally “unfriendly” products by purchasing the goods and services (e.g. electricity, cars, Televisions) that these businesses provide. The process would work like this. Suppose the population of Australia increases. There would be an increased demand for electricity (for heating, lighting, cooking, refrigerating etc.). The additional electricity consumers will begin making payments to an energy company, and this will gives the company the incentive to burn additional coal, natural gas, oil etc. in order to generate enough electricity to meet the increased demands of their customer base. As a result, there will be additional amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other gases which are released into the atmosphere causing the Earth to heat up, sea levels to rise, air quality to decline amongst many other harmful effects. On the plus side, the consumer gets electricity in return, which will ultimately lead to his/her higher standard of living. Pollution can be reduced very easily, but the cost will have to be borne on the consumer and at the expense of his/her standard of living. In my opinion, the consumer should pay for the damage caused to the environment and third parties because of the decision to use an environmentally harmful good or service, and this article will go into further detail on how this could be approached in a more efficient method than is currently being used in the final section. Lastly, it is an illusion when environmental activists and others say that it is in the best interests of everyone to “protect” the environment; the truth is that pollution is here because the majority of us, as consumers are enjoying the fruits of human ingenuity in being able to use the Earth’s resources to promote an ever more productive society. As consumers we must be aware that the word “protect” really means to abuse our interests and choices.

What is our current solution? Is it effective?

The approach to controlling pollution has been the same approach to many other aspects of society worldwide, including the trucking industry, food and drug industry, and education industry. The attitude is to erect another government bureaucracy that has the power to enforce orders. In America, the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970. In it’s first eight years the agency’s budget increased seven-fold and it currently has $7.89 billion of taxpayer’s money to spend. In Australia, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was established in 2012 to “deliver environmental outcomes to the people of NSW” and it has been granted discretionary legal power. The issue with this is that it deals with pollution as if it is a court battle when it is simply a matter of more or less. The EPA regulates businesses by putting a limit on how much carbon (or how much coal, oil etc.) they can produce. They also issue licenses to businesses which they feel are environmentally satisfactory, thus giving them the right to carry out their business legally. Both regulation and licensures restrict the supply of businesses in a given industry. By forcing companies to obtain licenses and comply with carbon limits, we are restricting the amount of companies that will be willing to get involved in industries such as mining, energy and gas due to the higher costs and more time consuming process of starting up and expanding. When competition is reduced between businesses (as a direct effect of government regulation) the end result is always a higher price for the consumer. The consumer will have to bear the cost anyway if we are to reduce pollution, however regulations provide little information on the costs and benefits of the reduction in pollution. In other words the consumer may be paying too dear a cost for the benefit of clean air. In addition, by establishing regulations we are openly protecting big businesses from smaller competitors who can’t afford the time and money that the bureaucratic process forces them to succumb too. It is always the larger companies who have the money to spend on persuading the bureaucrats to obtain a license or to reduce regulation rather than the small business who does not get any government attention because it simply lacks the financial backing to argue for a favourable outcome. Not only that, the fines for breaking regulations end up being much more burdensome on the small companies than the large. To take a recent example, Mining company: Whitehaven Coal Pty Ltd had to pay a $15,000 fine for breaching the conditions of it’s license by producing a mere 6.8% extra coal than it’s limit of 2,000,000 tonnes per year. Caltex was also recently fined $15,000 for a water polluting incident in November. Whilst this system appears fair, Whitehaven Coal is only worth $1 billion while Caltex is worth $9 billion dollars. Caltex will recover much quicker than Whitehaven coal because the fine represents a much smaller fraction of the company’s wealth than it does for Whitehaven. Hence the result is to give Caltex a legally assisted competitive advantage over the much smaller, Whitehaven Coal. The question is who benefits and who suffers from this process? Society as a whole may benefit from drastically reduced pollution levels but because the regulatory system provides no efficient mechanism to assure the weighing up of costs and benefits, society may be paying too dear a price in terms of the standard of living we are giving up for this reduction in pollution. As consumers we are paying the costs of regulation that is given to businesses, although I don’t believe consumers have seen huge increases in the costs of their environmentally “unfriendly” products, it could potentially end up like this if we continue to grow bureaucracy and increase government controls. As taxpayers, we are suffering from more of our personal income being taken away and being given to another government organisation supposedly for our benefit. Finally as business owners, licensures and regulations will make it difficult to begin and expand mining companies, energy companies etc. unless the business is well established. In that case the regulation will help large businesses protect themselves against competition from smaller competitors.

In my opinion, the bureaucratic approach to the environment does not provide a good measurement of the costs and benefits of having different levels of pollution and the regulations are simply not flexible or adjustable enough to be viable. Instead it creates another legal barrier that prevents almost everyone from achieving their desired objectives.

What should our solution be?

In a society where the cooperation of individuals is voluntary, no exchange will occur unless it benefits both parties.  A common example of this is when people line up outside the school cafeteria to give up some of their money for the food that the canteen has to offer. The students benefit because they get to eat and the cafeteria owners benefit because they make a profit which they can use to spend on other goods and services.   This system of voluntary cooperation is called the “market” and it is an effective tool for ensuring the benefits of every situation outweigh the costs when everyone who enters a deal or trade is identifiable. However this system falters when the deals between two or more groups affect “third parties” who had no intention of entering the deal. This is the case with pollution. An individual may be willing to give up quality air for electricity however other people (who cannot be identified) would be affected from that same poor quality air even though they did not involve themselves in the transaction. In such a situation, government intervention can be used to solve the issue. Setting up a government bureaucracy to regulate pollution is one method but as shown, this is simply not an effective method. In my opinion a carbon tax would be the best way to deal with the problem. Like regulation, it makes consumers responsible for their own pollution (as they now have to pay higher prices for their products due to the increased costs on businesses). Also like regulation, a tax will prevent some companies from starting due to the higher costs however it will be much easier to coordinate, it will not require additional bureaucracy and it will be much more easily adjustable. The key is to start small (although I have no clue what an appropriate price would be) and slowly tune the tax so that the costs of reducing pollution (in terms of the goods and services and living standard we sacrifice) is worth the cleaner air we get in return. The goods and services that require a lot of pollution to be emitted for it’s creation will rise heavily in price and those goods and services that emit little or no pollution will become significantly cheaper by comparison. This will provide the incentive for consumers to switch to greener products and by the same hand, businesses will also be incentivised to produce greener goods and services to meet changing consumer demand. On a more political note, by removing the bureaucracy we will allow businesses to be conducted fairly. Instead of companies competing to influence government for agreeable rulings in regards to regulation and licenses they will compete only for the customer. This will prevent the unfair competitive advantage that large businesses have because they often have much more money to spend on influencing government than smaller companies do. It will allow more resources to be dedicated to a more efficient and effective consumer product and it will reduce the chance of corruption that may occur when government officials and large businesses collaborate. Finally it deals with the pollution concern, not in terms of court enforceable orders but rather in terms of costs and benefits. Fines and removal of licenses will no longer occur as a punishment to businesses who exceeded their production limit because the only production limit set will be by the quantity consumers can afford. The carbon tax has been removed in Australia (perhaps because it’s burden was too large) however in my opinion this tax is the best approach that has been suggested.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this article has provided a short explanation and given a brief insight into what the true issue of pollution is, who is responsible and what we need to do as a nation and as a globe going forward. We must remember that it is in the industrialised and developed countries such as Australia, the U.S., Britain etc. where we have clean air and water. In America, carbon monoxide levels have decreased 84% from 1980-2013, nitrogen dioxide has decreased by 60% in the same time period and sulfur dioxide has decreased by 81%. Development has created new environmental issues however it has gotten rid of many other issues. To take an example, steam trains were the dominant railway transport from the early 1800s until the mid-1900s; however their energy efficiency level was only 10%, meaning that most of the coal that was burned was released into the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The invention of the diesel engine allowed energy efficiency to increase to about 35% making trains even more environmentally friendly and today, electric trains are becoming the predominant form of railway travel and they are much more energy efficient than diesel run trains. So as we can see, the natural byproduct of progress is a cleaner environment. Unfortunately when we hinder this progress unnecessarily through regulatory government bodies, everyone suffers as a result.

Sustainability Blog 2015

As a new school year comes around, that means a new cohort of administrators and writers for the Sustainability Blog, and a new group of leaders for the Committee. 2014 was a good year for the Sustainability Committee as a whole, as well as for the blog. My name is Daniel Evans and I will be running the blog in 2015. I would like to thanks Mrs. Randell (now succeeded by Mr. Parkin) for her instrumental role in the conception of this blog, and especially last year’s co-administrators of this space; Jayce Carrano and Seb Rees. I would also like to thank all those who wrote articles for the blog throughout 2014, including Jayce and (particularly) Seb. In 2015, we aim to expand the scope of the blog, while not losing any of its quality. While we are indebted to the work of the 2015 cohort, the committee leadership wants to make regular posts as well as notifications about the actions, initiatives, and advances of the Committee between meetings a feature of the blog. We also aim to expand the group of writers involved in the blog, and diversify its content, encompassing political analysis, school-based issues/ initiatives surrounding sustainability, investigative pieces, and general miscellany. Essentially, we want the blog to act as a hub for the Committee when physical co-ordination is made difficult. Articles and posts will be put up regularly, so that people can engage with the Committee outside of meetings. Similarly, we will also be having a regular feature in the Black & White throughout 2015, which is part of a larger plan to promote and popularise the blog among the wider student base. An article will be up shortly, and all posts will be under my name (the writers will be acknowledged in the title). See either myself (email: 42617@newington.nsw.edu.au) or Mr. Parkin (CParkin@newington.nsw.edu.au) for more detail on how to get involved in the blog, or in the Committee more widely.

The 2016 Presidential Election and the Politics of Climate Change.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/02/climate-change-campaign-trail-obama-epa-rules

4 years ago, 70% of Republicans in the US House of Congress did not believe that climate change existed. Now even in ‘red states’, those which overwhelming vote Republican, 53% of voters support pollution caps and taxes against big emitters. In the lead up to the 2016 election it looks as if Global Warming may become a decisive bipartisan issue. Things are changing in American politics and one can only hope that the worlds biggest polluter will lead the way to a more carbon conscious future.

Innovative Cities- Matt Han

Sustainable City. What does it mean? What does it take?

With the Fifa World Cup wrapped up in Brazil, it seems rather topical to raise the fact that one of its host cities, Curitiba, is also recognised as one of the most sustainable and innovative cities in the world. This city won the Global Sustainable City Award in 2010 and was crowned as “the most innovative city in the country” at the UN Habitat II summit of mayors in Istanbul. It has repeatedly been used as an example of an extraordinary human feat of sustainable development. But what actually makes this city so sustainable?

A sustainable city tries to reduce the amount of input of materials it uses and the output of wastes and encourage circulation within the urban system in the form of recycling whilst maintaining or improving the quality of life of its citizens.

It is recognised that the primary driving force behind Curitiba’s push towards sustainable development has been political planning, largely initiated by Architect and the later mayor, Jaime Lerner, which has, in turn, affected the city’s social, economic and environmental elements. I want to bring to light three major sustainable policies and developments that have been initiated in Curitiba.

1) Trinary Road System

In 1968 Curitiba adopted the Trinary Road system as part of its Curitiba Master Plan led by Lerner, which allowed three concurrent main roads going through a central transport node to form the basis of the city’s structure. The arterial pathways had one central two-way lane reserved exclusively for buses and two one-way streets either side of the main road. This plan was adopted to increase efficient travelling behaviour and also lend itself to housing planning with high-density dwelling areas built around the main roads.

2) Integrated Transport Network

To match the Trinary Road System, the government in 1974 adopted an Integrated Transport Network (ITN) to increase the efficiency and affordability of buses as their main public transport. This policy introduced 1,100 buses meaning 12,500 bus trips for 1.3 million passengers daily. This efficiency-orientated monocentric city structure and plentiful supply of public transport means that 85% of citizens use the bus network and that Curitiba uses 30% less fuel per capita than the eight other Brazilian cities of its size and emits 33% less CO2 per light vehicle than Brasilia. To leave such a service affordable, one blanket fare was applied for all parts for the city.

3) “Garbage that’s not Garbage”

This programme allowed low-income citizens to trade in recyclable or waste materials in return for food and bus tickets (sounds rather like the ‘swap shop’ at Newington…). It was also extended to disadvantaged students who could trade in for school supplies. Now its residents recycle 70% of their garbage saving an equivalent of 1,200 trees per day. This two-pronged, grass-roots urban programme took into consideration both the social and environmental elements of sustainability in order to reduce ecological footprint.

However, it is not all success stories for Curitiba. As with most societies, an increasing level of affluence and wealth has led to the consumption of more goods and resources leading to an increase in automobile use, more output of wastes and greater spending on electricity. An increasing population certainly has not aided its strive towards sustainability either. We can certainly see that this city is no green stamp of perfection.

So what can we take from this city?

We can take the innovative nature with which it approaches attempts to counter effects of an increasingly polluting human race and an ever-increasing demand on materials and resources.

Our Changing Environment and its Disastrous Costs- Sebastian Gray

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/jul/14/8-charts-climate-change-world-more-dangerous

 

This article displays some quite extraordinary data of the rapid increase in disasters since 1970s and their devastating toll upon populations and the economy.

 

The statistics show a dramatic increase over the last 10 years in the number of disasters that have hardly been prominent before, such as extreme temperatures. As the article argues, the frequency of these natural disasters has been mainly a result of the effects of climate change.

 

It is quite amazing to see the multitude of natural phenomena that global warming is causing already, and it is unusual that these effects are not brought to our attention often. Although due to the lack of information provided in the article it ignores any other possible factors that could have impacted these rises.

 

I believe factors such as the earth’s growing population, which has almost doubled since 1970, could perhaps be largely responsible for the large amounts of economic loss from disasters that logically would be much higher during the last 10 years than during the 1970s. Due to growing populations it also makes sense to deduce that the total amount disasters would naturally be higher now. However it is hard to know the exact weightings of each factor.

An economic solution for a sustainable future- Ed Treloar

We have seen revolutions in industry since the dawn of time. In recent years with, following technological advancements and the advent of the Internet, companies like Apple and Microsoft made a market of their own replacing existing companies with brand new ones to distribute their revolutionary products. Billions of dollars have been invested in industries all over the world and now we are at the dawn of a new revolution: the energy race. As opposed to the industrial revolution, the focus is no longer on being able to produce and use energy but rather to be able to generate and store large sums of efficient renewable energy without running up large costs. When compared to power harnessed by coal powered plants, renewable energy production has very few ongoing costs. In New York, it is predicted that replacing 8 Gigawatts of coal produced energy with solar or hydroelectric power could save $1.3 billion in operational costs a year, which would help pay off the original investment. Similarly if Australia invests in providing remote areas with solar panels and batteries, they can be self-sufficient and help remove 51% of the cost of power. This may not seem possible given the coalition’s slashing of the renewable energy fund in an attempt to balance the budget. If the present government is not willing to invest into such a booming industry then an easy alternative exists to allow Australian Citizens to make a change. To help this energy revolution I propose a Research and Development tax incentive plan, similar to that established by Labor in October 2011.

My first step would be to implement a tax free incentive investment plan, where people are allowed to invest, tax free, on any sized renewable energy company in the form of shares. An incentive would be provided in allowing investors to drop down a tax bracket, invest a small amount of money and in turn help the environment and the Australian economy. This process can be shown by way of example. If an investor earns $85000 a year they are taxed at 28%. To lower their tax bracket they may invest $5000 on a renewable company, changing their tax payment to 25%. The difference in tax is $120, which means the person will invest $5000 and only have to pay for $120 of it. It is like marketing with a pool floaty or training wheels; nothing can really go wrong. Even after the money is spent, the investor is still, in part, in possession of it. This is because the renewable sector manages to be quite a progressive industry, generating profit and thereby remunerating its investors. Only the government, loses out in this equation- its taxation revenue may in part be compromised. However this is not a large issue because there will no longer be a need for government investment in sustainable energy, regular Australians will keep it alive and well.

The next part of my two-step plan is to give every Tax Free Incentive Investor (TFII) a list of companies that they are able to invest in. This list will be ranked based on how trustworthy and established the company is, along with other categories. Companies would financially bid for high places on this list and bidding money would go to the government and help it cope with lowered tax revenue. To make sure that no companies with sinister incentives, like firepower, buy their way through the bidding process, companies will be background checked to estimate their financial and environmental value. This list of companies makes the investing process easier, safer, more reliable and profitable for the government. This would help boost Australia in its eventual goal to lead the world energy race and assume its place amongst environmentally progressive nations.

The Gift of Thrift

At this point, everyone is familiar with the catch-cry “Reduce, reuse, recycle”. It has been written, read and said so many times that its reuse is becoming somewhat ironic. Yet, given the UN’s April declaration that not enough is being done to combat climate change, the need for sustainable living has never been greater.

The textile and clothing industry has a huge impact on the environment around the world. The reliance on workers and factories in developing countries means that often the production of these items is undertaken with little to no concern when it comes to environmental sustainability, requiring and producing a horrific list of chemicals. All linens are treated with formaldehyde, most other fabrics are treated with bleach. Huge quantities of clothing dyes run into and pollute rivers while nylon manufacturing pumps nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide) into the sky. Not even natural fibres are without their detriments; cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world. It would be great if we didn’t need clothes but Adam and Eve put paid to that a little while back so we may have to look at other options. Perhaps recycled clothing is a possible avenue for sustainable living. And where might one find such clothes?

For decades, thrift shops have been a bastion of counter-culture; consigned to a motely crew of retro-philes, savvy pensioners and big-game antique hunters. This changed drastically in 2012, when rapper Macklemore somehow squeezed an anti-consumerism message into the self and wealth obsessed world of pop culture. His song “Thrift Shop” shattered the barrier that had been holding many people back from “thrifting”. If you’re not one of the 500 million people who have already watched it on YouTube, then it might be worth it just to marvel at the effect one icon can have; in the sort of reversal you only see in fashion, counter-culture became pop culture overnight.

Those living in Sydney – and near the hipster epicentre of Newtown especially – are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying clothes sustainably. There are dozens of stores filled with millions of skirts, shirts, shoes, and shorts simply waiting for the environmentally conscious bargain-hunter to come along. These clothes reduce the impact of the clothing industry on the environment, come as cheap as they get, and now – thanks to a shift in pop-culture Feat. Macklemore – won’t draw odd looks. Never has there been an easier way to begin your journey towards being more environmentally conscious.

You don’t even have to buy from thrift shops to begin living more sustainably; donating is just as worthwhile. That replacement pair of runners that were the catalyst for finding the lost pair, those old Hawaiian shirts from Bali and even the star-spangled shirt from China can all be given a second life. If you’re not already donating old clothes to charities such as St Vincents, the Salvation Army (with which Newington has close ties) and the Red Cross, then there’s no better time than now. The collection bins are never far away with some sitting just on the other side of Stanmore station as well.

So, unleash the savvy, fashionable, charitable, environmental warrior within and dive into the world of thrift shopping, you never know what you might find.

Who Saves the Planet Now?

Despite the praise with which it has been met, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent findings confirmed little more than we already knew. The debate surrounding anthropogenic global warming should by now have been buried. Of the 10, 855 climate studies published in peer-reviewed journals during 2013, only 2 rejected the consensus that the scientific community has held since the 1990s.

The problem that confronts the scientific community is no longer in debate; it is the translation of fact into public acceptance. In the USA, the world’s second highest emitter of Carbon Dioxide, 30 % of Government Representatives consider climate change to be a ‘myth.’ Of 233 House Republicans, 130 are of the same opinion.  Amongst those who respect the findings of scientists, the most alarming perspectives on climate change appear. The facts may be true but surely it isn’t the responsibility of governments to take action? Marco Rubio, tipped to be a candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election, and a self-declared ‘man of modern science’ described what he sees as the futility of a governmental response to Global Warming: ‘The government can’t change the weather. We can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it isn’t going to change the weather.’ It is a depressing apathy which is common in political discourse, the interests of the economy override what is likely to be the most significant challenge the world has even known.

Debate around the consequences of inaction is often framed in abstract hypotheticals. We typically find issues with no obvious trajectory difficult to overcome. But by now we can be sure that if we fail to address the concerns the IPCC has outlined, the chance of long term survival for our species is negligible. In the next 20 years, the displacement of many millions of Bangladeshis, Indonesians and Pacific Islanders by rising sea levels will cause a refugee situation which will put Scott Morrison’s current rhetoric into perspective.

What can we do when our governments are beholden to populist, commercial interests which overlook the long term ramifications of climate change?

To begin, we must continue lobbying the system to reform from within. In the 1990s, groups of Australians took to the streets to protest ozone depletion in the atmosphere by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). In 1995, this culminated in the Keating administration passing a law to ban the use of these chemicals, significantly reducing Australia’s contribution to the ozone crisis.  Since the public were made generally aware of the Climate Change consensus through the effecting of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth in 2006, Global Warming has gone from being a fringe issue in political discourse to one which all governments are expected to have a stance on. In Australia, the Rudd government was voted in on a policy agenda which for the first time saw a mainstream Australian political party taking a principled stand on international environmental issues.

Despite this good work, where the state can longer or will no longer fulfil its obligation to the environment often other groups and individuals must fill the void. This obligation is two-fold. Firstly, to make people aware of their own relationship with the environment. Then, to encourage individual and collective action to help reduce our environmental impact. At Newington, the environmental sustainability committee seeks to fulfil both parts of this responsibility. Last year’s presentations on water wastage opened the eyes of many to the huge costs of water overuse. Similarly, this year’s focus on our reliance on electricity and technology paves the way for wider discussion on how we might use the laptops and IPads which have radically changed our education with greater awareness of their environmental ramifications.

However, it is in taking action on the environment that we hope our most significant achievements will come. Following the proposal of Edmond Cheng and Clyde Welsh for the utilisation of solar energy, the school has now installed new solar panels to help reduce Newington’s emissions. This year’s tasks to encourage recycling, more appropriate water usage and sustainable transport to and from school are already well under way!

The governments of the world have failed in addressing the environmental needs of our generation and those to come. It now falls on individuals and extra-governmental groups to pick up the slack. Newington should seek to be a community on the right side of history when it comes to the environment and the significant moral challenges it presents.

Pictures of Impact

When thinking about the impact of our choices and practices, it is easy to make it all very abstract, theoretical. But sometimes it is important to look at what we are doing, stare it in the face and see if we can still live with our choices.
I saw this article and the pictures put a reality that is concrete to abstract ideas.

What we do matters.
http://blog.ted.com/2006/10/02/gallery-edward-burtynskys-extraordinary-images-of-manufactured-landscapes/

urban gardens

One thing we can do to reduce impact is to be producers, not just consumers. The Grow Foods Not Lawns movement is one such idea. You can join their FB group and see great ideas in how to maximize your food production within the confines of urban and suburban spaces. This article:

http://www.realfarmacy.com/four-advantages-of-raised-bed-gardening/

gives ideas about using raised garden beds (often made from sustainable and recyclable materials) to be more productive in your home garden.

RealFarmacy also gives great tips for composting, chickens and more