Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Day 4 – Guldberg and Important Discussions
Sorry for the late update – it’s been absolutely crazy recently!
We had another great day at the Guldberg school today, beginning with an early morning bus ride during rush hour from the hostel. Even though the journey was pretty frantic and crowded, we were greeted by a lot of smiling faces waving flags of our different nations as we entered the school building. The sixth grade choir sang a traditional Danish song to welcome us, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” as a message of the hope for the future, and a surprise song—“Billie Jean,” complete with guitar playing by their music teacher and our guide. After that, we went to some really interesting workshops held by Rebecca Ettinger of Nepenthes and Jaris Bigler of the Kalvebod Nature School.
Nepenthes, a Danish organization of about 1600 people, works to salvage rainforests through political advocacy. Ms. Ettinger gave us some information regarding why deforestation has such an impact on carbon emissions, and suggested solutions like ecotourism and agroforestry using international payments. Continuing the theme of deforestation after Ms. Ettinger’s introduction, Mr. Bigler discussed how, of all the manmade emissions, 17% is linked to deforestation. Deforestation itself is due primarily to cattle ranching. He gave some interesting demos to show us the effects of erosion when trees aren’t holding down the soil, and a rather cool, though smelly, example of how dried cow manure is an extremely viable type of fuel.
However, the best part of the workshops occurred when Mr. Bigler suggested we split up into teams. The Brazilians, Haitians, and Bolivians would be in the first while the Canadians and Americans would be in two separate teams with some of the Danish climate class students in each team. Our assignment was to describe what we wanted the other two teams to do with respect to preserving the rainforests endemic in Brazil, Haiti, and Bolivia. At first, we were worried about how to approach the problem. The role of developing and developed countries in mitigating climate change has been a contentious one that is sure to be brought up at the COP15, so the exercise was clearly intended to see how youth might handle the same issue.
As Pulkit, Becca, Chloé and I debated with Nadia, Numan, and other Danish students, we considered what the other teams would want of us—most likely, funding for the preservation of the rainforests. Therefore, we thought of strategies to best make use of the money to ensure that management of conservation efforts would be efficient. When all the teams presented their solutions, it seemed like we were all on the same page! The three rainforest country delegations believed that aid should be given and managed well, as did Canada and the U.S. As we took the bus home that day, Darwin from Bolivia told me that he believed our team’s proposition was “lovely” because it mentioned specific ideas like crop rotation or using cow manure for fertilizer instead of bringing in politics. The exercise did somewhat provide hope that, if kids like us can figure out environmental aid, perhaps politicians will eventually come to an accord as well.