In this issue we will publish two inspirational articles. The articles should be used as a reminder, that anything is possible and that we should keep a positive attitude towards these grave climate change issues we are facing. If we stay positive and curious we will continue to develop new ideas and solutions to these issues. In continuation of the idea that anything is possible, we have interviewed Wayne Schimpff and asked him about the early days of CEI. This week we will publish the first half of the interview.
Interview with Wayne Schimpff by Diana Fayed
This year’s conference in Aalborg, Denmark will be the 30th conference in CEI’s history. This is an impressive anniversary for organization that is operated and maintained with a $0 staff budget, as Wayne Schimpff pointed out for us. We have asked Mr. Schimpff about the early days in CEI, since we are curious how a successful organization like CEI was founded. Mr. Schimfpp got involved at the 3rd idea forming meeting of CEI, which later resulted in the birth of the CEI concept as we know it today – this was in the early 70’s and Mr. Schimpff has attended 21 conferences ever since, throughout which he and his wife Gail has introduced generations of Caretakers to the CEI family. We have asked Mr. Schimpff how he got involved with CEI: “ … I had already hosted the first ever Global Conference for high school students back in 1973 in Chicago. Ed Radatz, was the teacher of the USA high school that participated along with student teacher delegations from 13 countries. So Ed had already experienced this international conference. In the mean time I worked with Ed in his capacity of high school teacher while I worked with him in planning his high school ecology class field trips while I was the first Naturalist in charge of teacher education for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, IL, the first Ranger Naturalist at our nations first National Urban Park, the Indian Dunes National Lakeshore, the first Chief naturalist for the State of Illinois and the first naturalist for the City of Chicago. So when Ed Radatz, Isabell Abrams, and Arjen Wals had their early idea forming meetings, they convinced me to take a day off from teaching and meet with them at Ed’s school to see what I thought if the idea. I said that the idea was great and we moved forward with implementing the idea.” So as Mr. Schimpff puts is: “I never joined CEI, rather I helped it evolve and develop …”.
As part of our journey to understand the background of CEI we asked Mr. Schimfpp why CEI was founded at that exact time: “The above background activities in the USA were happening. Also Ed and I were involved with the planning and the conducting of first Earth Day celebrations in the Chicagoland area. Also Arjen Wals, Joke Wals son, was 26 years old and had his family’s background in caring about the environment in Europe. He also saw that CEI should be a place where teachers and students would participate as equals. This ‘Participation as equals’ idea was revolutionary at the time, because in Europe the teacher was highly respected as was not an equal of a student. But Arjen thought that concerns about the environment were ‘Equal for all’. So his mom and dad hosted the first CEEI Conference in The Hag, Netherlands. This is where the successful formula of the current mix of CEI conference activities was pioneered. Arjen’s father, Harry Wals, was in charge of Parks and the Environment for The Hag and he was also the first Chairman of the EU’s Committee on the Environment. So he used his extensive resources to invite countries to send delegations and to host conference activities. Harry also was developing and presented the first Blue Flag for a clean beach was awarded during our first conference. Also he had pioneered the first Farm in A City program. He also supported community and school site gardens. So the CEI Conference activities gave the host country an opportunity to show case what it had been doing to empower it citizens to connect with the environmental base of which the society exists and how teens can help in the connecting process. I guess it was just a pure coincidence that Ed had the luck of having Arjen assigned to him as a foreign exchange student teacher and they shared prep and lunch periods where they talked about common interests. Ed had been operating his nationally recognized Oak Park Pollution Control Center out of Oak Park River Forest High School where he taught for many years prior to the initial meeting to form the meeting about forming a group that would be called Caretakers of the Environment International. The Pollution Control Center had it’s own phone line where community residents could call it with many types of requests. Students were assigned to answer the phones and the callers’ questions during the school day. They also attended many different community meetings regarding all types of pollution issues and topics in their community and elsewhere in the region. So with the above combined experiences and knowing the power of empowered teens, the global program began it successful almost 30 year program.”
With a combination of skilled teachers and leaders (and a small portion of great luck, referring to the meeting of Ed Radatz and Arjen Wals) CEI was founded. Speaking as an active Caretaker I believe that many, many students and teachers across the world are thankful that this handful of people came together and created the CEI concept we know today, since it has been a source to wonderful learning experiences throughout the years. Next week we will continue our interview with Mr. Schimpff. We will ask him about the development of CEI through the years and talk about his personal experiences with the conferences.
Breathing Buildings by Frederikke Ulnits
Imagine living in a building that actually breathes. Instead of having to turn on the air condition when it’s hot outside, the fresh air will just come through the walls. And the most amazing thing is; you won’t even have to use any electricity to make it happen. The building will really be selfventilating. How is this possible? Architect Doris Kim Sung has found a way. She believes that we shouldn’t just focus on making the mechanical systems as efficient as possible, but try instead to find new and more sustainable ways to ventilate buildings. Doris was a biologist before she became an architect, and she has found a way to make the outside of a building work similarly to the human skin.
It’s called thermo-bimetal. It is a smart material, because it doesn’t need electricity to function. The metal, as the name suggests, is actually made from two different metals, which then gets laminated together. The idea is that when heated, one of the metals will expand faster than the other metal, which means that the ends will curl up. That way the fresh air will be able to get inside, and the hottrapped air can get outside without having to use any power at all, except for heat from the sun, of course. And no pieces of the thermo-bimetal are the same. That means you can adapt the form of each one of them, to fit the place it’s going to be placed on the building. Doris Kim Sung has created an installation called Bloom with over 14000 pieces of thermobimetal, all of them different and adapted to the angle of the sun. What is really great about this thermo-bimetal method is that it will always work. If the electricity goes it will still work the same and if it isn’t hot outside, it simply won’t expand. And Doris Kim Sung has also experimented with getting the metal to shade from the sun, so you won’t need any blinds. We see this on Bloom, too. Some pieces of thermo-bimetal are placed in a way to make them keep the sunlight away, while other pieces have been placed so they can let fresh air inside or release the hot air that has been trapped underneath the surface of Bloom. Every single piece has been placed strategically and has it’s own specific function. And with the technology we have today, who knows when we will start making houses the same way? Then we would have a sustainable way to survive a hot day.
Recycle now! By Emma Laursen
When we speak about recycling it is impossible not to focus on the importance of plastic recycling. Mostly because the amount of plastic used in todays societies has reached an extremely high level, but also because with this rate the situation will only get worse, unless people start to realize the problem, and act according to these bad circumstances we created ourselves.
Plastic is a human made synthetic product and is made of long carbon chains, crude oil, cellulose, salt and natural gas. It all gets melted together and goes through a long process before it turns to solid plastic. Since plastic is a human made product and not a natural product, it makes a severe problem for the environment. It is an unknown substance for the nature and therefore there isn’t a natural decomposing. The nature is simply not capable of getting rid of the substance and thereby the amount of plastic will grow if the problem continues.
If people don’t recycle, a huge consequence can be seen in the oceans. Massive wastes of plastic end up in the sea, and here winds, tides and currents move it around into what oceanographers call gyres. These gyres comprise 40 % of the plant’s ocean surface – 25 % of the entire earth.
Some birds especially seabirds get entangled in the garbage patch. Animals who live in the ocean can’t see the difference between food and garbage and they eat it. The plastic will make them feel full when they are not and they starve to death. It also affects humans because smaller fish will eat micro plastic and the tuna will eat the smaller fishes and we will eat the tuna.
Another problem that occurs with the plastic waste that doesn’t end up in a recycling station but on the kerb side or other places around in the cities or nature is the toxics that ends up in our groundwater. All the toxic substances from the plastic will get carried away with rainwater, and led into our groundwater. Here it can spoil the ecosystem and harm the animal life.
When you are recycling your plastic, the plastic gets squeezed and pressed together. Then it gets cut into small pieces, washed and melted and then you can use the material to reproduce new products.
It is decided that in EU in 2020 all the Member States have to recycle 50% of glass, paper, plastic and metal from the ordinary housekeeping. It will be an important positive development for the environment and if all countries would do the same, we would move in the right direction and recreate the situation we live in and made ourselves.