How your school can help save the arctic

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Think global, act local

Teachers can use the appeal of polar bears and other endangered species to engage children with environmental issues. Their habitat is affected by pollution, noise and other human activities, and above all, climate change.

It is further threatened by oil drilling in Alaska. This month the US Congress is to vote on legislation which would formally legalise drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been protected for 50 years. We can help save polar bears and other arctic creatures such as the caribou and protect the lifestyles of the Inuit and the important eco-systems of the Arctic by the actions we take at home and school. You can:

* Draw up an energy-use action plan - perhaps through the school council or eco-council.

* Run an energy reduction campaign. Involve the community. Make badges, posters and videos; give speeches and write articles. Have a display in the school reception area.

* Make a sustainable garden at your school.

* Adopt an endangered species or habitat.

* Set up a school eco-council.

* Recycle.

* Don't use cars when children can safely walk, cycle or take public transport. The "walking bus" - where parents collect children to walk to school together - saves 10 car journeys per family each week. Talk to the local council about transport.

* Set up a children's after-school "Watch Club", part of a network supported by local wildlife trusts (www.wildlifetrusts.org).

* Save energy by turning off lights and other electrical equipment; use low-energy lightbulbs.

* Collect information from a range of environmental and government organisations.

* Engage with an organisation such as GoNorth! which sends young explorers on dog-sledge expeditions to the Arctic, testing the ice for pollutants, and sending satellite feeds to participating schools as they go.

Polarhusky.com is its beautifully-illustrated website, carrying information about the Arctic. Although most of its educational programme is designed for schoolchildren in Canada, Australia and the USA, there is much available to teachers in the UK, including a sample teaching unit and information on the importance of the Arctic to sustainability.

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