Assi Askala (Finland, AC 09-11)
As all the UWCs are full of active and globally concerned young people, so is Atlantic College. Due to that, we have large number activities, and every single week we have a focus on one theme. We all know that climate change is a crucial issue, so it is not a wonder that the environmental focus week was a big event. The whole week was full of various activities connected to the environment. There was bike-fixing, a capture-the-flag game, tours around campus, a dark hour with all lights out, a pumpkin competition and movies shown every day. We had experienced speakers and climate activists from all over the UK giving presentations. The aim of the week was to give students a possibility to get to know more about different prospects of climate change and to make them more familiar with are surroundings and sustainable living at AC.
The climax of the week was the climate conference on Saturday. It started at 10am with Tim Helweg-Larsen’s presentation about the science and politics of climate change, and continued with small breaks until 6pm when Leo Murray, producer of “Wake up freak out” and one of the creators of the film “Age of Stupid”, gave us a talk about activism. He told everyone to use their talents and give their best. He said that now when we have the chance we should really do and act; doing small things like taking showers one minute shorter are important, but not enough. During the conference, we also had an interesting approach to climate change from an economic point of view. Our debt-based system was blamed for not giving the possibility to invest in renewable energy systems. Building new power stations rather than wind turbine farms gives you back faster, so you can pay back the interests faster. With our current economic system it is easier to borrow money than to save it.
During the breaks of the conference, there was a bake sale and homemade apple juice for everyone. On Saturday night, there was an acoustic “Sosh” (the college disco), and a letter writing campaign to Barack Obama and several governors and prime ministers.
Overall, the week went by surprisingly well and mostly everyone was more than happy with it. We got some new members to ACE, the college climate activity, who told that the conference really woke them up. Many students said after the week that you can easily think that you know enough about climate change already, but really, you have no idea of many interesting and even scary facts and theories. The only thing that still needs to be done is getting the whole college involved. Now as all the events, especially the conference, were optional, there were not as many participants as there could have been. Most of the Second Years had loads of work and decided to skip the talks, and many first years just planned other things, and maybe did not completely realize how great of a chance it was.
It is important to spread the word and wake people up to reality. Climate Change is going to affect everything you can imagine: global health, economics, finance, justice. When we look back at history, human kind has made many great mistakes that we cannot understand. There have been disasters which the whole world has witnessed and done nothing. There may be one, of the biggest kind, ahead of us, and what are we doing? McKinsey suggested in a research that in 2050, there will be population of 9bn people, but in 2100, of only 1bn. We still have the chance to change the future, and that is what the students in Atlantic College are trying to spread to people and activists around the world. We need to act now; this issue is not an English essay you can delay for tomorrow or day after it, this is a huge problem that touches every single person around the world, some more than others. I will quote Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, as I think that this is the time for our generation to be the heroes:
“There will be one day when all humankind fails, but it is not today.”
– United World College Student Magazine –