Student Speakers Call for Proper Energy Use

DUBAI - Collapse of civilisation, unemployment and dangerous consumption of oil were some of the foreboding predictions made at an environmental speaking series presented on Monday at Knowledge Village in Dubai.

By Emily Meredith

Published: Wed 29 Apr 2009, 1:52 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:25 AM

Instead of policy makers or environmental advocates, the speakers were 13 and 15-year olds from high schools in the UAE, participating in the ninth oratory competition held by Emirates Environmental Group.

The speech prompts — ‘reducing water-energy footprint’ and ‘is this the peak oil era?’ — touched on issues particularly critical to the UAE, which uses costly desalination to obtain drinking water and is a net exporter of oil.

“We should not always depend on oil,” said 13-year old Sara Al Jaziri from Al Ittihad Private School.

“We can’t just ignore theother sources.”

Al Jaziri’s teammate Aseel Al Bassam argued for more solar energy use.

She said her father works for an oil company.

Students learned their debate questions several weeks ago and spent free time during lunch and after school preparing. This is the ninth time the environmental group has held the bi-lingual speaking series, aimed at engaging young people in environmental debates.

Nida Ali, one of the team members from Emirates International School, Dubai, said she initially thought global demand for oil is at its peak. But after researching more, she and her teammates considered the supply and demand sides of the issue.

“If your asking about oil usage,” her teammate Nikhil Punwaney began, “it is like my Arabic marks. Sometimes high, sometimes low.”

The periodically severe and alarming words — one girl from Sharjah British School predicted that “the 21st century is just the beginning of collapse” — were offset with the props some students used. An oversized paper mache globe featuring green glittery continents and an inflatable beach ball decorated to look like the sun sat in the stairwell leading to the elevated rear of the auditorium where Ali Siddiqui sat, mouthing his speech silently before taking the stage to argue that the globe is currently at its peak for oil.

The speakers’ youth brought simplicity to environmental concerns that policymakers sometimes avoid.

“Burning fossil fuels like gasoline (by driving cars and flying airplanes, for example) makes our air dirty,” read the Emirates International School presentation.

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