By: Myles Ritchie
The Outdoor Circle and University of Hawaii have teamed up to work on a new project called the “Carbon Neutrality Challenge”. With the help of Professor Camilo Mora of the UHM Geography Department, this program will see several important components presented in order to make a truly unique and comprehensive program.
In order for the program to work, there are three distinctly different components that need to be seen. The first involves going into schools and working with students from the 5th grade through university in order to teach a uniquely tailored curriculum on climate change and its numerous impacts. After spending a few sessions with each class, they will then begin the second phase of the program, calculating their carbon footprint. In order to do this, the students (and their families) will use a website designed specifically for the Carbon Neutrality Challenge to calculate this footprint by inputting various metrics. Once calculated, the website will let these students know how many trees of a certain species they will need to plant in order to become carbon neutral for that year. The last component involves having the students come out as a class or with their family in order to plant these trees and truly become carbon neutral for the year. This will be achieved at Camp Palehua where reforestation efforts are required to reduce erosion and in doing so, also help reduce the effects of climate change.
In order to help with the motivation of these students and their families, the Carbon Neutrality Challenge website also provides a race feature that will rank students against one another in terms of who is the closest to being carbon neutral or who has been able to create a carbon sequestration surplus and have a negative carbon footprint for the year. This premise is the same as what is known as a psychological “hook” and is commonly used in apps in order to bring the user back to the website/program, even after multiple visits. This has been demonstrated recently through the “Pokemon GO” craze that swept not just the United States, but the entire world.
Finally, on top of having a library data base that helps these individuals learn how to maintain their trees, it also has a calendar feature that will allow users to schedule when they would like to take care of the trees planted by the class. As a result, if there are 52 students in a class, each family only needs to go and take care of the grove of trees once over the course of the year in order to ensure that the trees survive. This will help avoid a drop off in volunteers who may not be able to go multiple times a year due to other commitments, or who would otherwise show up at the same time as others and have little or nothing to do.
The Carbon Neutrality Challenge is a truly unique program that will encourage students to not only learn more about the effects of climate change, but also have a direct impact on reducing their carbon footprint through the planting of new trees and forests across Oahu. The Outdoor Circle is thrilled to be a part of such innovation and encourage you to join or spread the word about this program so that as many students as possible will be able to participate.
Should you be interested or have any questions, please email TOC Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.