This week, two visitors from the Swedish embassy came to school in search of Climate Pilots. No, these aren’t cosmonauts soaring above the skin of earth’s atmosphere. They are households willing to reduce their carbon footprints over the next six months by altering their lifestyles in collaboration with “coaches,” families from Kalmar, Sweden who have already taken the challenge to green their day to day life.
This doesn’t require an embrace of vegetarianism or wearing sandals recycled from old tires (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The point is to promote less radical adjustments, of the type that nearly anyone can make. For example, we can change the world by becoming adept “eco-drivers,” collectively laying off the accelerator while going down hill.
The program is part of the embassy’s efforts around climate awareness that are timed to coincide with the July 1st inauguration of Sweden’s European Union presidency. The House of Sweden has recently made news for “Living Green,” a series of programs and exhibits that includes lamps powered by electricity you can see. Another innovative idea is an upcoming “climate relay,” during which twelve cities will take turns hosting two hours of on-message web content.
Pilot families commit to writing a few blog posts and posting some pictures on the web, but beyond that their level of participation is up to them. Four eco-challenges will be presented, asking them to think smart about food, transportation, energy use and consumer habits. Watt by watt they’ll figure out how to squeeze the meter, with the hoped for outcome of reducing their own impact on global warming by 30%.
What’s in it for us, other than the preservation of our planet? Participation by families and teachers from our school will have a natural ripple effect in our classrooms and beyond, tying in directly to curricular efforts like our second grade’s participation in next year’s NAIS 20/20 Challenge, when they’ll work on saving the Chesapeake Bay. It also meshes with our school’s newly refined mission to mint global citizens. With kids visiting from Mexico and possible Skype-pals in Sweden, it really does begin to seem like a small world after all.