Inconvenient Truth – Uncomfortable Reality

Source: https://www.co2levels.org/.

As we come back to another school year, I’m sure that more than a few international schools have strengthened their commitment to teaching about the climate crisis. For those schools that have not, please consider doing so. We are in the midst of an existential crisis, there is no getting around that. The last thing we need is another generation of adults willing to deny our climate emergency. The challenge ahead of us is difficult enough without debating whether a challenge exists. 

Increasing the curricular focus on the environment is doing the right thing, the necessary thing. We have to teach ourselves and our students about the seriousness of our actions, the harm each political setback causes, and the startling trajectory we are on. (Look at the graph again and make the obvious comparison of the last 100 years to the 900 years before that.) We are living in the first and only time that a species on Earth has such an obvious capability to eradicate itself and others entirely. An inconvenient truth, as we know from Al Gore. 

Soon students will arrive at international boarding schools across Switzerland and the world. They’ll fly in, many of them from incredible distances. They’ll often come with parents and siblings. As my mind wandered during the first day of our faculty orientation, I imagined an interactive world map showing this incredible movement of students, driving and flying, arriving at their international school. It is all very exciting, quite wholesome, really. Yet it is not sustainable.

Completely distracted by that point, I missed whatever came next in the presentation. Not only do students cover large distances to arrive at school in the fall, many repeat the trip (there and back) for fall break, Christmas break, spring break, and summer break. During the school year, parents often travel to the school to visit their children. There is, again, nothing malicious in any of this. Nobody is at fault. But that doesn’t make it any more sustainable. 

This is a very uncomfortable reality. Let’s just imagine a single international boarding school, anywhere, it doesn’t matter which one. On the one hand the faculty commits to raising awareness about the climate crisis, making it part of their curriculum. On the other hand, their business requires students to fly in (and out and in and out and in and out …) to learn, among other things, about the climate crisis.

The situation is inconvenient. Is our example school willing to advise their families to keep their students at a school they can get to with public transportation? Is any school willing to do so? 

Quite simply, the answer is no.

Where does that leave us?

One thought on “Inconvenient Truth – Uncomfortable Reality”

  1. Basically, the unwillingness to change our habits, patterns, and unfortunately, sometimes our selfish ways leaves us where we have been since the beginning of the industrial revolution – extracting our natural resources at an ever faster rate while simultaneously polluting the air and water and increasing the temperature of practically everything including, alas, my temper. The statement that “nobody is at fault” is a kind sentiment, but incorrect, and some people, businesses, industries, and nations are more at fault than others. The same holds true for individual life styles. In 1970, while a teacher at a private school in Colorado, the faculty and students spent the first Earth Day planting trees on campus, and the students, imbued with the idealism and hope of youth, decided to no longer use paper napkins at meals but cloth serviettes instead. During the intervening fifty three years, where have all the flowers gone?

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