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Earth Day 2008 at Prem Tinsulanonda International School

Earth Day 2008 at Prem Tinsulanonda International School

Sustainability the greatest challenge of the 21st century

Students with their ‘Save the Dolphins’ posters.

Students learning about ‘Effective Micro-organisms Technology’.

The celebration of this very special event at PTIS coincided with the internationally celebrated “Earth Day”, on Tuesday April 22. Our theme was a critical one, “Endangered Species, Endangered Spaces”, with a particular focus on our host country, Thailand, set in the context of conservation issues that can be highlighted in the South-East Asian region. Students of all ages shared in the whole school activity, specifically designed to partner junior and senior school students together, and working in conjunction with CWI, Care for the Wild International, on the conservation and protection of rare species of dolphin. The recent plight of the presumed extinct Yangtze River Dolphin and the similar pressures from human activity on our own Irrawaddy Dolphin in southern Thailand highlight the need for action. The current CWI campaign to restrict gill netting in the coastal and estuarine waters of New Zealand for the purposes of introducing stricter laws for the critically endangered Maui dolphin was selected as a partnership project for our students. Whilst the younger students created drawings, the senior students wrote postcards and letters to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark. The pictures and written appeals will be posted to Ms Clark at the very time that the government is reconsidering fishing and trawling regulations in New Zealand’s waters. Students also signed up for a wide range of rotational sessions throughout the day that included such opportunities as writing Haiku poetry, sketching rare species of orchids, planting additional native flora, competing in a team “Amazing Earth Race” event, making biodiesel and evaluating its environmental impact, constructing bird baths from natural and recyclable materials, as well as completing eight large art murals, each representing a unique and sensitive ecosystem with some of its endangered inhabitants depicted. Through this wealth of activity, we hope that the students gain a better understanding for, and appreciation of, our immediate and extended precious environments, including the physical features of the land as well as the flora and fauna that drive each ecosystem.
On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, millions expressed their dismay over what was happening to the environment around them and their alarm over the indifference of political leaders to the destruction that was being caused. That 70s generation of young people, mainly students, who supplied the energy, enthusiasm, and idealism that forced environmental concerns into the political arena for the first time, serve as models for the young people of today across the world. The legacy of their concern and action gives modern youngsters an amazing opportunity to persuade political establishments worldwide to initiate a meaningful debate on sustainability. No nation’s society is currently sustainable over the long-term because all are consuming capital - their wealth, so to speak, is the air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and bio-diversity. Take these away and all that is left is a wasteland. As nations pollute, erode and degrade their resource bases, they are spending “capital”. Obviously, this is not a sustainable situation in the long term; a sustainable model must be forged for the future. This issue is by far the greatest challenge for the 21st century, on which millions of lives, and the planet itself, will depend.

A group of students showing the postcards they are writing to the New Zealand Premier, Helen Clark, asking her to protect the dolphins.

Students working together to produce a poster about endangered species.