20 April 2014

Tuesday 22 April is Earth Day!

22 April has been declared International Mother Earth Day by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Every year, on this day, over a billion people in 190 countries, from San Francisco to San Juan, Beijing to Brussels, Moscow to Marrakesh, plant trees, clean up their communities, contact their elected officials, and more, all on behalf of the environment.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for International Mother Earth Day 2014 is:

“I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home. Let us care for Mother Earth so she can continue to care for us as she has done for millennia.”

“Mother Earth” is a common expression used to describe the planet Earth in a number of countries and regions. For instance, Bolivians call Mother Earth “Pachamama” and Nicaraguans refer to her as “Tonantzin”. The term is used because it reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit.

The International Mother Earth Day 2014 campaign is Green Cities. As the urban population grows (today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities) and the effects of climate change worsen, our cities have to evolve: we need forward-thinking public policy, we have to educate the public, and we must create a sustainable, healthy environment by investing in sustainable technology and renewable energy.

Questions/to do:
  1. What is the organization that created International Mother Earth Day?
  2. What happens on this day and why?
  3. Situate San Francisco, San Juan, Beijing, Brussels, Moscow and Marrakesh on a map.
  4. Translate Ban Ki-moon's message.
  5. Do you like the term "Mother Earth"?
  6. What is a "green city"?
  7. What events are being organized in France to mark Earth Day?
  8. What, if anything, will you (and your family and friends) be doing for the planet today?

14 April 2014

Voter apathy is on the increase... Who cares?!

Sadiq Khan, the UK shadow justice secretary, says lowering the voting age to 16 is at the heart of the Labour party's plans for constitutional reform.

He argues that lowering the voting age is a crucial way of tackling the public's malaise towards all things political: “Getting the public into the habit of voting is clearly a key part of any solution if we are to raise the numbers of those who participate in elections. We need to get people hooked on voting at an early age because the evidence shows if you vote when you first become eligible you're more likely to keep on voting for the rest of your life. Don't vote when you're young and you're more likely to never vote...”

A left-leaning think tank has even suggested that voting should actually be made compulsory for first-timersLabour also wants improved citizenship education in schools. 

Khan says that political parties have to make much more effort if they want to re-connect with the public and demonstrate they are relevant to the issues which affect people's lives on a day-to-day basis.

Khan thinks that the millions of ordinary people who are involved in campaign groups and charities put political parties to shame; translating their community engagement into support for party politics is a challenge for those in Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast...

A survey shows that nearly half of Britons are disgruntled with politics. Among the voters aged 18 to 24, “ennui” rivals “fury” as the dominant feeling about politics.

When Harold Wilson won the 1964 general election, more than three quarters of people cast their vote across the generations. At the 2010 elections, 76% of over-65s voted, while only 46% aged 18-24 went to the ballot box.

According to a recent poll, apparently only one in ten people aged 18 to 24 were definitely planning to vote at the next general elections...

  1. What do the words and expressions in bold mean?
  2. Who is Sadiq Khan?
  3. What is the Labour party?
  4. Why does Mr Khan want the voting age to be lowered to 16?
  5. Should voting be compulsory do you think?
  6. What advice would you give Mr Khan (other than lowering the voting age) to get his political party to "re-connect with the public" ?
  7. How do you serve your community? 
  8. Why does Mr Khan mention Westminster, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast?
  9. Would you say you were more bored than angry about politics and politicians?
  10. Will you (or would you if you were allowed to) vote in the next general elections in your own country?

12 April 2014

Tutu hot?!

  1. Why is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change against fossil fuels and what does it recommend?
  2. Is Germany locked into using coal?
  3. Why is moving away from using fossil fuels so urgent?
  4. How expensive is renewable energy?
  5. Who is Desmond Tutu?
  6. What are his achievements?
  7. Do you agree with his opinions on global warming and how to solve it?
Read out the TV news bulletin for April 1st 2030; include descriptions of how energy production and use affects society and the environment...

The International Day for Monuments and Sites is on 18th April!

UNESCO established 18 April as the International Day for Monuments and Sites in 1983. It aims to raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world’s built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them. Each year has a different theme.

What is the most moving memorial you have ever visited (describe it and give details of its history)?

To do:
Find a memorial near your school and take good quality photos (or, even better, do a few sketches!), then answer the questions below.

  1. Who was the sculptor?
  2. What is the monument made of and what does it represent?
  3. Where did the money to build it come from?
  4. When was the monument built?
  5. How do local people feel about their sculpture?
  6. Why was it placed where it is?