Reflection on Shared Planet 2010 at Birmingham University

Ho Wang (Adrian) Leong (Hong Kong, AC 10-12)

A group of 14 students from Atlantic College went to Birmingham University for Shared Planet 2010 Conference from 6th to 7th November. It was organised by People & Planet, the largest student campaigning organization in the UK. Many of us found the conference helpful and inspiring. The conference evolved around environmental and human rights issues. It was kicked off brilliantly by the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas. She advocated ‘the New Green Deal’ which means a green economy, more jobs and sustainability. Not only will it do justice to the present generation, but also generations to come; she skilfully widened the definition of ‘equality’ to ‘intergenerational equality’.

The most memorable part of the conference was an open-space forum that I joined on the last day. A representative from Greenpeace spelled out the harms bio fuel has created for mankind and our planet, supported with scientific evidence from a recently released report produced by Greenpeace. For some reason, bio fuel has a reputation of being an alternative energy source – a solution to climate change. But no, as he told us, because it is far from carbon-neutral as it claims to be. The original formula falls flat on its face, because it doesn’t take into account carbon dioxide produced when forests are burnt down to provide more land to produce food for our already famine-stricken world. Unfortunately, the UK is among other European countries which see biodiesel as a quick fix to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, as Greenpeace predicts, 10% fuel sold in Europe will be bio fuel. But let us face it: we cannot afford the time and effort put into developing another source of energy. Unfortunately, the short-sightedness of our governments and their pathetic attitudes towards constructive changes manifested themselves yet again.

Luckily, AC is different. Year after year a new combination of students helps shape the AC experience in different ways; that’s what makes the AC experience unique for every single graduate. Here, an inquisitive and enthusiastic crowd is present; the only factor missing in the equation is inspired young individuals that initiate and sustain changes. As long as we keep our minds fresh with new ideas, meaningful activities will replace old ones; our college will continue to evolve into a more caring and diverse community spear-heading the waves of change that are distinguished compared with the present situation of political stalemate in the world.

-United World Colleges Student Magazine-

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