US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan meet in Washington before the Copenhagen Climate Conference to sign a memorandum to fight climate change.
© Scanpix/AFP
My ice cream melts so quickly, but I just took it out the freezer one minute ago! This looks like a funny joke, but it really happened. There is a old proverb that says, “All the living things will change themselves to suit the environment, but ‘Human Beings’ are the only livings that will change the environment to suit them.”

This proverb describes real world situations. In modern times, the temperature is getting higher and higher each year. The reason for it is called the Green House Effect. The Green House Effect is normal and happens regularly. However, after the Industrial Revolution, we humans use huge amounts of petroleum, coal and natural gases.
The carbon dioxide (CO2) produced after combustion increases the speed of warming many times faster than regular warming. This is a very serious problem. If we don’t solve it, our children will all meet an early death.

To discuss and attempt to solve the releasing of carbon dioxide in the air and thus the onslaught of global warming, 192 countries from around the world have joined the conference in Copenhagen, Denmark during December 2009. This conference is hoping that world leaders can set a workable agenda to solve global warming, and also substitute the Kyoto Protocol which will expire in 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, but not signed by many countries, including the USA, As one of the biggest polluters, their cooperation was greatly needed.. This failure has led to a greater need for new points to be raised at a new conference.

The main discussion of the Copenhagen Conference includes several points. First, to limit the releasing of CO2 in the developed countries, and to ask every country to make the promise of decreasing the release of CO2 before 2020; second, to support the developing countries to transform into low-carbon economies by having the developed countries give them economical support; and third, to forbid the destruction of forests by making every country conclude a harsh prohibition to prevent deforestation before 2030.

Even though Taiwan had not been invited as they are not recognized by the United Nations (UN), Taiwan sent a group of environmentalists to tell the whole world that “Climate Change. Taiwan Cares.” The most important element of this conference are the decisions by China and the USA. They are both heavily industrialized and produce most of the carbon dioxide gases. The success or failure of this conference depends on them.
If they don’t cooperate, this conference might miscarry. China, the USA and other developed nations need to carry greater weight in the responsibility of fixing the planet. These great nations need to learn how to work together so that they can provide knowledge of “green development” as well as financial support to the countries who cannot afford to industrialize in a responsible manner themselves. This is a global problem and if the world does not work together, it will affect everybody.

Hopefully, an agreement can be made at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP 15) that will prevent a wide scale disaster. The time to do something is now.
GCP 8 students watch themselves on YouTube as they pose questions to COP 15.
Pic © V. Tompkins
On October 27th and 28th, students from GCP 8 and GCP 9 went on a journey to collect and experience the lost culture of the Miaoli (苗栗) Taiya (泰雅族) tribe. This trip included activities such as farming, shrimp-catching, and learning the tie-dyeing skills of the aborigines. The students thought that the trip was enjoyable and as Darren Fang of GCP 9 commented after the activities were over, “it was also a fascinating and a special memory for me.”

Tie-dyeing was one of the first activities that took place. A tribe leader from the Dalawan Resort taught the students how to make this extraordinary artwork that looks like beautiful patterns bleached and colored onto a cloth.

“Make whatever patterns you feel like doing, because every one of them will turn out to be unique” he said and everybody soon found how right he was. This inspired the students and aroused their imaginations to make the most creative pieces. Soon, the job was done and the excited students compared their work with each other. “It was really fun, and everyone’s tie-dye cloth was a masterpiece!” said Sebastian Liu. One of the key events of this outing was definitely farming. Being city kids, most of the students had never experienced the method of planting crops, but that evening, everybody rolled up their sleeves and underwent the hard work of farming.
The students started from the beginning, which was weeding and mixing the fertilizer with the soil then came the planting of the vegetables.“It was hard work, but also fun and meaningful,” said Murielle Hsieh, “I won’t waste food anymore, because now I understand the toils of the farmers.”

Shrimp-catching was probably the most looked-forward-to event. The route to the river was bumpy, rough, and difficult to pass. But these obstacles, along with the darkness and the cold did not wash away the students’ enthusiasm. “When I saw the shrimp, I was so happy I almost fell in the river!”

Sarah Hsu has gained more than positive experience during her time at Dalawan Resort.
Pic © D. Chiou
Tiffany Lo exclaimed on the way back, “My back was sore from bending to find shrimps, but it was really worth it.”

The students took a long journey to the nearest reservoir, to choose their favorite stone for painting. The fun part was that by looking at the stone the person picked, you can actually guess their tendency or even personalities. “I chose a rounder rock, I guess that means I’m more serene,” said Tina Wang, “and Jason chose a rougher rock,
representing his outgoing characteristics.” The drawings we did also reflected our thoughts.

Everyone had a wonderful time and a distinctive souvenir to take home.

With a busload of memories and experiences, GCP8 and GCP9 went back to school, truly fulfilled with contentment and new knowledge. Sabrina Su from 9th grade said, “Wow, I’ve learned so much about Taiya culture, and also experienced a lot. It’s definitely going to positively effect my future life and thoughts.”
Mingdao students received H1N1 influenza vaccinations in early December in a bid to prevent further outbreak on campus. This correlates with a national immunization program that was started by the government last month.

  Lines of students filed into the school gym to be vaccinated by trained medical staff. The mood was jovial within the Junior 1 ranks as most students felt that “It really doesn’t hurt” after the needle prick. The brave faces sat quietly in the gym waiting for the period of observation to finish. Mingdao teachers were also there to help the students through. “I think that this is a very good idea as it makes us feel safe,” commented David Chiou, homeroom teacher of the GCP 8 class. “This will take off the pressure of worrying that the class might close.” More than two thousand classes have been closed in Taiwan since the outbreak of this influenza strain.

Others, however, were a bit more skeptical. “I’m not too sure if the shot is safe” said Eason in Junior 1, when asked why he was not participating with the rest of the class. Time will soon tell how effective this H1N1 vaccination drive has been at Mingdao High School. Perhaps we will be lucky to have everybody present at Christmas this year.
Benny Kuo received his Influenza A vaccination at Mingdao High School this December.
Pic © V. Tompkins