Categorized | National News

American Embassy Joins Ferreira & Co Earth Day Challenge

For the third year, a leading environmental law and consulting firm is challenging high school teams to channel ideas and imagination into solving environmental issues that stymie folks, public entities and organisations far senior in years and experience. And this year, for the first time, the American Embassy is joining the Earth Day Challenge founded and sponsored by Ferreira & Company.

“The American Embassy’s participation and support takes the Earth Day Challenge to a whole new level,” said environmental lawyer and ecologist Romi Ferreira. “It’s very exciting and I believe it has already raised the profile of the competition because we have the largest number of schools yet to enter and the most coming from the Family Islands.”

Among the schools participating are St Augustine’s, Jordan Prince Williams, St Anne’s, C. R. Walker, St John’s College and R.M. Bailey from Nassau, Bishop Michael Eldon from Freeport and N.G.M. Major from Long Island.

This year, students choose from topics that include solid waste, renewable energy, pollution, wetlands, fresh water resources, environmental impact assessment, marine resources and forestry. Rules call for teams to create working exhibits accompanied by presentation materials and a written report. Each team presents its solution during a judging and awards ceremony to be held at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Royal Bahamas Police Headquarters, East Street, on April 22, 2015.

“I am always so impressed by what students come up with in terms of solutions,” said Ferreira, who is also a director of the fast-growing environmental movement, Save The Bays. “They are not bound by the thinking that is based on history – how it was done before and how it is done now. They look at a problem or challenge with fresh eyes and ideas and it’s incredibly encouraging for what their creativity means to our being able to solve these critical issues of protecting resources and providing a clean and healthy environment for the future.”

Last year’s winner, Aquinas College, beat out seven other schools to walk away with the top prize when students found a way to harness the gas produced by dump fires, transforming it into cooking gas, fertilizer, electricity and water for irrigation. It was a subject that was very real for the Aquinas students whose school had to be closed several times because of the smoke and methane gas from the dump fires.

“The rest of us may feel helpless in the face of massive dump fires that blanket entire neighborhoods in black, acrid smoke, but the nation’s budding environmental scientists know how to turn a troubling situation to their advantage and that is the whole purpose of this exercise – to encourage and reward critical thinking in the areas of the environment and environmental law,” said Ferreira.

“These students took something that was dangerous and detrimental to society and demonstrated that by bringing something relatively inexpensive – portable, bio-digesters – to homes they could reduce the amount of household waste discarded, lower the cost of electricity and provide free cooking gas,” he noted.

The Aquinas team used pig dung to produce the methane which they transformed into fire, water and fuel before attendees’ eyes during the demonstration and judging.

The environmental attorney, who was chosen by CARICOM to create model legislation for the energy sector in the Caribbean, said the tenets of Save The Bays and other organisations dedicated to preservation and conservation are not luxuries to be left for another day, but urgent matters that need immediate attention – something he believes students may understand better than many adults.

“We are at a crossroads where more of our wetlands are being destroyed every day in the name of marinas and homes, more of our reefs are deteriorating, more of our coastline is being eroded because of unregulated development,” said Ferreira. “We must pass an environmental protection act and we must stop polluting. The environment is the fight of our generation and the solutions may very well come from these students who show such understanding and enthusiasm.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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