Archive for December, 2008

Kerr’s Green Team Wins IDEA GRAND PRIZE!


               In an international competition sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, schools across the world were ask to show how they could effectively combat global warming.

The grand prize winners of the contest, co-sponsored by International Debate Education Association’s contest are from Solvista Secondary School in South Africa—and from Houston’s very own Alief Kerr High School. The runner up was a school from the Ukraine.

Out of the worldwide submissions of environmentally friendly plans received, the only one to win from North America was that of Kerr’s. The plan was conceived in by Speech & Debate Vice-President Ainee Athar who was put in charge of overseeing the implementation of fostering educational activities as a part of BP Global’s A+ for Energy Grant. The grant specifically covered the efforts of Kerr Cross-Examination Debaters and their efforts to promote knowledge about going green. One of their activities was participating in the People Speak Global Debate competition, administered by the UN Foundation.

As Athar made sure that the team’s students had submitted their plans on time, she jokingly brought up the fact that methane was a potent greenhouse gas and largely the result of the high demand for animal agriculture, and that a government that endorsed a more plant-based diet for its citizens could deter the effects of global warming. Speech Coach Derek Davis realized that the plan was more realistic and innovative then Athar had given credit to.  He, at the very least, expected the plan to be recognized for it’s originality.

The final plan explained the importance of lowering methane levels, and showed how governments were essential agents of action in distributing the knowledge about the environmental footprints of diets.

As a result of their victory, Athar, teammate Joshua Tang, and Coach Davis will travel to Salem, Oregon in late May to compete with schools around the world at IDEA’S International Tournament of Champions. Kerr High School was ecstatic that their students were able to represent the reputation of the school not only in the local community or on the national stage, but internationally.

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Cow Taxes

Cow FartAccording to, 200 pigs/50 beef cattle/25 dairy cows release a substantial amount of methane gas through flatulence and belching, or in layman’s terms, farting and burping. The Clean Air Act regulations enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, in short, would mandate the purchase of permits for farms and businesses to emit 100 tons of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) annually. This proposed policy is creating quite the uproar amongst farmers because of the large taxes on the livestock: $175/dairy cow, $87.50/beef cattle, and $20/pig. Who would have thought that bodily gases emitted by common farm livestock would translate to such a hefty tax in order to curtail GHGs?

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Safe Nuclear Energy?

Written by Ayesha Malik

Hyperion Power ModuleIs there such a thing as clean, cheap and safe nuclear energy? In this growing energy crisis, Hyperion Power Generation has attempted this with the creation of the Hyperion Power Module. The description of the Hyperion Power Module is pretty Utopian; it is a small reactor placed underground that has zero emissions and only needs to be refueled every few years and one can power 25,000 homes or more for approximately 5 years. In a sense, it sounds too good to be even be true. If Hyperion Power Modules are that efficient then why hasn’t there been Research & Development or federal funding for the project? Two words. Public perception.

In the eyes of the public, nuclear energy doesn’t look too good, considering the negative connotations attached to the words “nuclear” and “reactors” for the lack of safety, which can be seen by previous accidents with nuclear power plants, like the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986. Also, questions have arised that neither representatives from Hyperion or nuclear power experts can answer, like ‘does it produce waste?’, ‘where does the waste go?’, ‘can the reacor be dug up and used to produce a makeshift bomb from the materials?’ or ‘where will the uranium to power the modules come from?’. Despite how safe and regulated Hyperion Power Generation claims the reactor is, the Hyperion Power Module still has a long way to go in order to fix its unsafe image. Looks like it’s time for the Hyperion PR team to do some image magic.

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