Learning to protect the environment

This article provides a summary of how education and environment can be connected both in your own country and at European level. It has been written to support the chat with the Czech Republic’s minister for Education, sports and youth, Mr Ondřej Liška.

What do today’s students know about the Environment? Probably much more than our parents did when they were young. Today we live in a world where the climate is changing. Therefore, the efficient use of resources is increasingly important and making sure that you use innovative materials, such as plastics, to save energy is vital.
In order to know about all these challenges and opportunities, we need to learn about it. The formal education is extremely important in order to create awareness and understanding.
The FuturEnergia programme’s key topics are: Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Resource Efficiency. These three elements are equally important in your country as in your neighbouring countries and the EU as a whole. The Czech Republic currently holds the EUs rotating Presidency. Each of the EU Member States presides for 6 months and between January and July 2009, the Czech Republic has this influential position.  Chatting with Minister Liška would therefore provide a great opportunity to learn both about the Czech Republic’s activities and the EU as a whole, while also being able to present your opinions to a very influential politician.
When thinking about your education and what you would like to learn, it is important to ask yourself the following: What do you want to learn in school about Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Resource Efficiency? What have you learned so far? Is it sufficient? It is also important to consider how politicians can make sure education and environment are integrated.
It is important to keep in mind in what way innovative materials can be useful, and consequently also that it is important to learn about these opportunities in order to make a good judgement. Plastics is a solution to many problems and it is important to know how it can be best used. For example, using plastics for isolating your house is an excellent way to save energy (over its lifetime plastics building insulation delivers energy savings of 150 times the energy needed for its production), but in order to do this you need to be aware of it. Does our present curriculum take this into account?
Another example is packaging. Only 3.1g of plastic is needed to package 100g of products and in the developing world, around 40% of food is wasted between being harvested and in the home. In a society that makes widespread use of packaging this figure is around 3%. How well educated are we in this area? Great examples of resource and energy efficiency are e.g. electronic equipment (early computers required a complete room, while today – thanks to plastics – a small laptop can do even more) and renewable energy (wind, photovoltaic and solar heat plants contain technical components that are only possible due to plastics). We all now about how laptops have shrunk and that renewable energy is important, but do we know how this was made possible?
The Czech Republic’s Minister for Education, sports and youth, Ondřej Liška, is not only a Minister, he is also a member of the Czech Republic’s Green Party. This means that enhancing the environmental awareness in education is a topic close to his heart. The Czech Republic has many educational actions planned and the chat with Minister Liška provides an excellent opportunity to receive answers from a person with influence, and with a will to change, as well as a great chance for students to share their opinions and to get involved.

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