PLANT FOR THE PLANET: Billion Tree Campaign - Posted November 23, 2007

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is launching a major worldwide tree planting campaign. Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organizations and governments will be encouraged to enter tree planting pledges on this website with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide during 2007.

Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign, people, communities, organizations, business and industry, civil society and governments are being encouraged to plant trees and enter their tree planting pledges on this web site. The objective is to plant at least one billion trees worldwide during 2007.

The idea for the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign was inspired by Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2004 and founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, which has planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since 1977. When a corporate group in the United States told Professor Maathai it was planning to plant a million trees, her response was: "That's great, but what we really need is to plant a billion trees." A worldwide effort Recognizing that there are many tree planting schemes around the world, UNEP proposes to federate these efforts in both rural and urban areas. People and entities - individuals, children and youth groups, schools, community groups, non-governmental organizations, farmers, private sector organizations, local authorities and national governments - are encouraged to enter pledges on the online form. Each pledge can be anything from a single tree to 10 million trees. 

The responsibility will lie with the person/organization making the pledge via the campaign website to arrange for the tree planting. All contributing participants will receive a certificate of involvement. They will be encouraged to follow up via the web site so UNEP can verify that the trees have survived, in partnership with certification mechanisms, such as the Forest Stewardship Council. The website will record the ongoing tally of pledges, and also publish photos and accounts from registered campaign members of what they have achieved.

The campaign encourages the planting of indigenous trees and trees that are appropriate to the local environment. Advice on tree planting will be made available via the website, as well as information about reforestation and
other tree-related issues, including links to appropriate partner organizations best equipped to give locally tailored advice, such as the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Because ideal planting conditions vary in different regions, the campaign will operate throughout the year. 

To date (December 11, 2006) over 120 million pledges have been received. All of the above information was taken from the campaign website, which is located at


Campaign for Environmental Literacy  - Posted October 9, 2007

UK Announces All Pupils Will Be Given Lessons in Climate Change

(British) Children will learn about the dangers faced by the environment - and what they can do about it


by Richard Garner, Education Editor, Independent News and Media Limited

Children will be put on the front line of the battle to save the planet under radical proposals to shake up the way that geography is taught in schools.


The plans, to be published on Monday, will ensure that, for the first time, issues such as climate change and global warming are at the heart of the school timetable. Pupils will also be taught to understand their responsibilities as consumers - and weigh up whether they should avoid travel by air to reduce CO2 emissions and shun food produce imported from the other side of the world because of its impact on pollution.

Details of the new initiative emerged as global warming is thrust to the top of the political agenda today with the publication in Paris of a long-awaited report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Written by more than 2,000 scientists, the report is billed as the most definitive assessment yet of climate change.


Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, said urgent action needed to be taken to avoid the worst-case scenarios and that educating children about the dangers of climate change was vital. "Children have a dual role as consumers and influencers," he said. "Educating them about the impact of getting an extra pair of trainers for fashion's sake is as important as the pressure they put on their parents not to buy a gas-guzzling family car."

The plans are part of a major review of the secondary school curriculum that will be unveiled by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Government's exams watchdog, next week. They follow criticism of the way schools have addressed the issues of climate change and global warming from - among others - the Royal Society of Chemistry.


Dr Richard Pike, its chief executive, warned only last month that textbooks were out of date and barely covered the issues. As a result, lessons on the topics were full of "omissions, simplifications and misrepresentations."

Under Monday's blueprint, education for sustainable development - covering issues such as energy saving and recycling - will be a compulsory part of the curriculum.

The blueprint, which covers the way lessons for 11- to 14-year-olds will be taught, is designed to ensure the curriculum includes topics relevant for the modern world. It will come into force from September 2008.

"The proposed changes are part of a new flexible curriculum which will give teachers more scope to bring in topical issues relevant to today's changing world," a spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said. "Ministers want to enthuse children about subjects like geography."


Other topics to be studied include looking at the impact of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
Mr Johnson said: "It is inconceivable that young people growing up today should not be taught about issues like climate change - it has enormous relevance to their lives. Children not only learn about our future, they shape it.

"No one should consider geography boring - it is one of the most dynamic and exciting subjects children can study today."


Mr Johnson stressed that - in addition to the new emphasis on climate change - pupils would still be taught core aspects of geography, such as how to use maps and atlases and the location of key places in the world.

Math experts have warned meanwhile that a shake-up of the mathematics GCSE will leave pupils unprepared to study the subject at A-level.


Ministers are planning to introduce two GCSEs - a compulsory GCSE indicating that a pupil has developed functional skills in maths, and a second, more advanced GCSE. The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, an independent committee based at the Royal Society, warned that - without a clear expectation that the majority of youngsters will take both - some pupils will not be exposed to the standard of questions needed to study the subject at A-level. Professor Margaret Brown, a committee member, said: "The Government should send a strong signal to schools, teachers and parents that most pupils should expect to study both of the maths GCSEs."


Mr Johnson is expected to order schools to look at issues such as global poverty and how to overcome it.

Officially, the proposals go out for consultation on Monday but ministers are eager that plans to enable schools to debate topical concerns go through. "Serious threats to the planet will remain if we don't take further action," Mr Johnson said.  Monday's announcement will also include reviews of how every other subject in the curriculum should be tackled in future.  As part of changes to PE, children will be taught about the dangers of heart attacks and high cholesterol.


The new topics children will study

* Climate change - the impact on pupils, the UK and the rest of world.

* Children's responsibilities - whether to travel by aeroplane or buy food from the other side of the world, and the impact of purchasing a gas-guzzling car or buying new clothes or trainers.

* The impact of the south Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

* Sustainable development - the importance of recycling waste products and saving energy.

* Global warming - impact of rising sea temperatures and melting ice caps.

* Fieldwork projects - such as studying ways to regenerate east London during preparations for the 2012 Olympics.

* Learning to examine individuals' carbon footprints, and what they can contribute in the fight to preserve the planet's resources


Alan Johnson: Children must think differently

Published: February 2, 2007

In 1815, Mt Tambora in Indonesia ejected 160 billion tons of ash into the atmosphere - an explosion so cataclysmic that inhabitants of the eastern US and western Europe didn't see the sun again for almost a year.

The change in climate was dramatic: the following year, "the year without summer", failing crops meant 80,000 people died of starvation.


Today's threat of climate change is not quite so dramatic but it could be more devastating. A report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change today shows that we need to take action if we don't want the worst-case scenario to materialise.


With rising sea temperatures and melting ice caps, we should all be thinking about what we can do individually to preserve the planet for future generations.

But we need to look beyond installing low energy light bulbs and turning the heating down. We need the next generation to think about their impact on the environment in a different way. That's why next week we will propose reforms to the school curriculum for all 11 to 14-year-olds that should provide opportunities to study issues that bring to life our impact on the planet.

I want sustainable development to be given a stronger focus and for it to be covered as a key concept in the new-style geography syllabus.


If we can instill in the next generation an understanding of how our actions can mitigate or cause global warming then we lock in a culture change that could, quite literally, save the world.

Importing food from the other side of the world and unnecessary airplane travel have become significant sources of CO2 pollution and children should be aware of these consequences.

Similarly, the importance of reducing fossil fuels and the effects of shifting clothes manufacturing to developing economies are all issues worth of study and debate in our classrooms.

Children have a dual role as consumers and influences. Educating them about the impact of getting an extra pair of trainers for fashion's sake is as important as the pressure they put on their parents not to buy a gas-guzzling family car.


I'm proud that the UK has one of the best records in tackling global warming, but serious threats to the planet remain. There can be no more important subject worthy of study in our schools today.


Alan Johnson is the British Education Secretary

February 02, 2007




ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News


A new project to raise earthquake awareness

Kandilli Observatory initiates a project to inform people about earthquakes with a mascot called Sismail, while there are no serious measures to strengthen or renew weak buildings in Istanbul, which awaits a big disaster in the near future

Living under the perpetual shadow of an anticipated earthquake that will lay waste to Europe's biggest metropolis Istanbul, a new project to raise awareness in society on earthquakes will launch in October eight years after the great Marmara earthquake that killed more than 17,00 people.


Sensitivity to Earthquake Project, organized by Boazii University Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute aims to lessen possible loss of life and property by making people realize the danger and take necessary measures, said project coordinator Professor Niyazi Trkelli, at a media presentation introducing the project. The project will try to contribute to creating a culture of being protected from earthquakes, as well.

Supported by the metropolitan municipality and the governor's office, the project will be the first to directly address people and inform them, in a country where 40 percent of its provinces face a very high earthquake risk. Earthquake training trucks that have been prepared for the project will first cover Istanbul as the pilot region and then move to other regions. A Web site with comprehensive information about earthquakes will be launched, while activities like short film competitions and theater plays will be held in cooperation with schools.


The mascot of the project, Sismail whose name is the combination of the word seismology and a male Turkish name smail, will also help in attracting the interest of children. Will the project save lives?


Although a project to raise awareness has vital significance in saving lives, the first and foremost measure to prevent massive losses during a possible earthquake is to strengthen and renew the buildings. A master plan to deal with the aftermath of an earthquake was completed in 2003 in cooperation with four universities, but the municipalities are waiting for the draft law on urban transformation to pass.


The reality of weakened buildings exists, said Niyazi Trkelli, answering a question by the Turkish Daily News on whether the project would save lives while there is no serious work to strengthen buildings. Trkelli said that the institute is an educational initiative and has to fulfill its own responsibility, It is not for us to answer this question. However, there are some improvements in regard to construction regulations and controls, according to Trkelli. The project manager, Sheyla Sezan, who created the project as well, emphasized that serious works are being carried out to strengthen public buildings.

Professor Miktad Kadolu from Istanbul Technical University Disaster Management Center emphasized as well that Turkey needs a change of mind about disasters. Turkey does not have a mindset for disaster management, he said, We should get rid of the mentality of crisis management and establish risk management.


There are works and improvements to get prepared for a possible earthquake but they are not sufficient, according to Kadolu. [The improvements] are like a speck of sand on the beach. We need total mobilization, he said.




From: []

Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 7:39 AM




International Walk to School Month gives children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event as they celebrate the many benefits of walking. This year, millions of walkers from around the world walked to school together for various reasons all hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk. 

See more at the following link:



From: FJMcDonald []
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:17 AM