Choice Publishing Book Store
Meeting the Challenge
Of Climate Change
By Anna Kavanagh
Price: € 19.99
About the book:
This book is a practical guide to dealing with the challenge of climate change in schools. It establishes beyond doubt that climate change is happening and explores its consequences. Most of the information has been available for a number of years. However, the author is very critical of the reaction in Ireland from politicians and religious leaders who have made no serious attempt to meet the challenge of climate change in Irish schools.
She argues that Green-Schools is a well established programme which could be used to great effect to meet this challenge. She calls on all concerned to take the necessary steps towards making education for sustainable development a reality in Irish schools in order to confront the issue of global warming. She warns that we are the first generation with a choice of deciding whether or not life on the planet as we know it will be sustainable for the generation coming behind us. The action taken now in schools around the country will determine whether or not Ireland faces up to its responsibilities in meeting the challenge of climate change.
About the Author:
Anna Kavanagh MA (Ecology and Religion) teaches English, History and Geography in St. Joseph’s, Convent of Mercy, Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, Co. Westmeath. The school has been awarded two Green Flags since she became Green-Schools Co-ordinator three years ago. She is a founder member and Director of Planning Matters, and Independent company, offering free online support and expertise to people who find themselves in need of assistance when dealing with the planning system in Ireland. One of its main aims is to promote sustainable development. Green-Schools, Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change, is her first book.
The Green-Schools Programme
Once a school is operating the seven step programme, there are no rules or regulations governing how the programme should be implemented in a school. It is left very much to each individual school to adapt the programme to their particular set of circumstances. In 2006 the www.greenschoolsireland.org website was set up by An Taisce and since then schools are encouraged to share what has worked for them in implementing the programme and a number of case studies are cited on the site. The programme themes are litter and waste, energy, water, travel and now for the first time, schools in Ireland will be able to move on to address issues associated with climate change, which is inherent in the other themes.
Litter and Waste
Litter & Waste is the first theme that schools undertaking the Green-Schools programme work on. These are major environmental issues in Ireland costing Local Authorities tens of millions of Euros each year cleaning up the environment and disposing of our waste. Figures released by the EPA in January 2008 show that, although the quantity of waste recycled increased between 2005 and 2006, so too did the total quantity of waste generated, resulting in an 8% increase in the amount going to landfill. Until recently most of this waste was landfilled, creating methane gas, one of the most potent greenhouse gasses. O’ Mahony and Fitzgerald found students in schools awarded Green Flags are less likely to drop litter and are more likely to participate in local environment projects, conserve water, energy and think about the environment when making a purchase. They found that secondary schools have more waste going to landfill than primary schools. However there is a significant reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill in schools that have adopted the Green-Schools Programme. Recycling levels of glass, paper/cardboard and aluminium along with levels of home composting are higher within the homes of Green-Schools students than within the homes of Non-Green-Schools students. Diverting waste from landfill reduces greenhouse gasses and helps to combat climate change. O Mahony and Fitzgerald show that the Green-Schools programme has a positive effect in this regard. Reducing, reusing and recycling waste conserves energy. Recycling one tonne of aluminium cans saves 13,300 kWh of electricity, resulting in a considerable reduction in carbon emissions. The most efficient method of dealing with waste is not to generate it in the first place.
In September 2005, The Green School Committee, St Joseph’s Convent Of Mercy Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, made a submission entitled Our Future In Your Hands to Westmeath County Council on the proposed Midland Region Waste Management Plan 2005-2010. They called for Green- Schools to be an integral part of the Midland waste management plan because the students of today are the citizens and leaders of tomorrow and if they are educated to control and manage waste the need for landfill and incineration will be greatly reduced in the future. The challenge for all schools is to reduce the amount of waste being generated and in particular, examine policies regarding vending machines and tuck shops which have the effect of generating huge amounts of waste. These have no place in a school truly committed to reducing carbon emissions. Participating in the Green-Schools programme provides the necessary framework and guidelines to do this.
EPA, National Waste Report 2006, pages v-viii http://www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/waste/stats/epa_national_waste_report_20061.pdf
Green-Schools, Litter & Waste http://www.greenschoolsireland.org/Index.aspx?Site_ID=1&Item_ID=98
Dr Michael John O' Mahony and Frances Fitzgerald, The performance of the Irish Green-Schools Programme, 2001, page 30,
Ibid, page 18
Ibid, page 33
‘Green School Calls for Greater Support from Authorities as Part of Plan to Reduce Waste; The Local Planet Nov 2005- Feb 2006