Climate Academy faced with the Climate Crisis

Julie Grant and Zoé Lanove

Climate Academy faced with the Climate Crisis.

Did you know that global temperatures around the world have increased by about 1° Celsius in the past century and are continuing to rise daily?

You may be thinking, why does this matter? What does it honestly mean for me and the earth’s environment?

Well, the earth is a biological system. If you increase its temperature but are still asking it to perform like it would normally, it simply cannot. It does not have the capacity to continue functioning as it usually would. As a result, ecosystems break down, animals lose their territories – disrupting the food chain as they are not able to survive, sea levels start to rise, glaciers start to melt and subsequently, we lose the fundamentals that sustain our life on earth.

Climate academy is an academy at EEB2 that aims at tackling climate change and raising awareness as to how severe the problem is. It is mostly a student run team lead by Eva Kastrinos, a 7th year student in the English section, however, Mr. Matthew Pye – a Philosophy teacher – runs most of the meetings and is there to support the students’ ideas and projects along the way. The academy was first initiated in 2015 by a former student in the French section and has from then on become a bigger group of students over the years.

The academy has been involved in events, protests, articles and more, all-round Brussels. They were behind the first ever climate protest in Brussels in 2019, the protest in front of the Parliament in 2018 and have, of course participated in numerous others organized over the years, including the most recent one in March 2021.

In 2017, they launched an initiative to collect and clean the school’s property of its rubbish. This initiative is called ‘Missions-Déchets’ and is being led today by an S3 student in the French section named Darío Jesús Herrera Segura. Mission Déchets has been lucky to have the support of the school’s management in bringing this initiative to life. Mission Déchets was one of the few projects in EEB2 that gave all students the opportunity to participate in something that improved the school’s environmental situation.

In 2020, a week of school was dedicated to raising awareness about the environment. According to Mr. Nicholas Duquenne, a French section teacher at EEB2, the week was used to hold conferences and lectures to help raise awareness. Interviews were prepared with politicians, scientists “and different stakeholders from European institutions,” explained Mr. Duquenne.

The academy includes fifth year, sixth year and seventh year students. They usually meet once during the week but if they’re handling a more challenging project, they will be meeting more frequently to discuss what they are working on and helping each other with their respective projects.

This year, the academy has been split into two. The first team composed of only fifth year students, has been working on producing podcasts weekly. This team was assigned to read a book, “Facing the Anthropocene” by Ian Angus and with the different chapters in the book speaking on a variety of topics on climate change, they work in pairs to produce an 11-minute weekly podcast deciphering these different topics. They not only discuss the topic solely from the chapter but also do their own research and read articles to better understand the topic.

A quote from a Swedish fifth year student in the academy, “The politicians in power need to change their attitudes quickly. They aren’t acting as productively as they should regarding the CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere by our industrial companies. This is a change that can only happen at a systemic level. Their ignorance is our loss of a brighter future.”

The second team is composed of sixth year and seventh year students. Their biggest project this year is one that has been in the works for a significant amount of time but has finally been realized. The famous “Writings on the Wall”, this idea originated from an Italian student in seventh year, Amelie Zimmerman. Her goal was to paint this wall in the city center of Brussels but with Covid-19 regulations this goal was sadly put on hold, however the wall was then decided to be done in EEB2 and has since been finished.

The main goal with this mural is to educate, inform and spread awareness. The phrase “Writings on the Wall” can be interpreted in two ways. To understand the first, we must go back to the Bible. In the Book of Daniel, there is a story where the Babylonian empire ships most of the Jews from Israel back to Babylon. They feast in Babylon and begin to mock the Jewish they are holding hostage. To make them jealous they begin dancing around, eating food and drinking their wine with the golden goblets they have stolen from the Jewish.

While all of this happens, a hand appears from the sky and writes on the wall “Mene Mene Tekle Ufarsin”, in english, “You have been weighed in the scales of judgment and have been found wanting”. The hand’s appearance was there to warn the Babylonians of their consequences if they were to continue as they were. If they were not to start behaving like good human beings, awful things would manifest themselves. The second way is simply an expression to say that if things carry on as they are, terrible things will occur.

The inspiration for the painting on the Wall comes from a man named Norman Rockwell and his painting, “The Right to Know” published in 1968. While Norman Rockwell painted this painting because he was concerned about the War in Vietnam and civil rights, Climate Academy painted this wall because they are deeply concerned about the climate crisis that lies in front of us and the lack of information in schools. The mural itself represents the students and “The science of climate and our right to a proper education on climate change”.

“The Writings on the Wall” at EEB2

In an interview, Mr. Matthew Pye stated that the greenhouse gases have reached a level that is no longer compatible with human civilization as we know it. Scientists today are saying that we need to reestablish our way of life before it leads to even bigger catastrophes. This Wall was painted to contribute in a powerful and coherent way.

The academy stated that if there is one thing to take away from this wall, it is that we must inform ourselves as best we can whether that be reading articles, watching the news or even sparking up debates with the people around you.

Although individual change does help, it does only a small amount, change needs to start within our political systems. By coming together in our schools to discuss climate issues, we are managing to target what changes need to be done and how we can achieve them. This academy proves that coming together and acting together can make a difference. As mentioned, protests, meetings with climate activists, and interviews with the press in front of the European parliament have been realized by the academy. Educating people and raising awareness will better the chances of being heard. We must demand that our political systems implement new legislation and make it a priority to oversee the reduction in CO2 emissions around the world. We are in a state of urgency. We cannot ignore global warming any longer. This mural represents our right to be informed and ultimately our right to a future.

We urge you to create academies, join teams and educate yourselves on this topic. You might feel it doesn’t concern you, but it does, we are all part of change.

The “Writings on the Wall” is finished however a second wall is on its way. We are proud of our school’s initiative and hope to see it happen in other schools – bringing light to this very much hidden crisis.