Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Carbon Offsetting at ISKL... Baby steps

What does a school (that hires overseas professional staff, participates in international educational, sporting and cultural events, provides spring break trips all over the world, builds houses for the poor around Asia, provides professional opportunities for its staff) and global warming have in common? Carbon emissions!

Carbon emissions is what happens when we do most anything requiring the use of industrial production or services. When we get in a car or a plane, we participate in the carbon production of the said transport vehicle. When we go to visit the nearest park, we emit carbon. When we recruit the world's best teachers, we generate carbon usage. Certainly there is a heavy environmental cost to being a world-class school. It seems that the higher the expectations (e.g. more computers, better facilities and equipment) the more the environment has to 'deal with' our increased wants for a better-educated student body.

Yet, when our school's visionary strategic planning group determined our school's new Student Learning Results and vision statement, they had the foresight to include the environment, explicitly. This in and of itself is a huge step for ISKL's environmental efforts. For years the Green Team has been asking our administration to acknowledge environmental impact of our actions as individuals and as a whole. Fortunately the group that congregated to create our new vision also recognized that in building the leaders of tomorrow there is increasing pressure to also deal with the ethical responsibility we should all internalize.

So, with the increase of international opportunities we need to take a closer look at our carbon footprint as a school. In doing so we have already begun to take small steps toward making our impact a little smaller, not in reducing our international travel, but at least by being willing to work with tree-planting stewardship opportunities.

Case in point: On February 7th three ISKL high school students and Mr. Hodges participated in a peat-swamp tree planing event organized jointly by Plant a Tree Today (PATT), The Eco Warriors and the Global Environment Centre. What began with a small foray into the wilderness around KL, we hope will expand to include many more of our members. In similar manner, a new program that will be included in the World Class program (until it gets a different name), is an environmental trip to Sabah to assist with tree-planting activities with an organization called MESCOT.

These are small steps toward moving in an appropriate direction. As the world's governments move toward green tax benefits, cap-and-trade policies, carbon taxation and carbon sequestration projects, ISKL too is moving slowly, but surely, in the right direction, one tree at a time. We began with the 70 or so trees that three students and a teacher planted on a Saturday morning, but our sights are set on a higher positive impact.

If you want more information on carbon offsetting programs for international travel, please feel free to visit www.carbonneutral.com or www.terrapass.com

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