Climate and Change

13 September 2019

Dr Rudolf Steiner was at the forefront of sustainable practices. A group of farmers were concerned at the introduction to chemical farming after World War 1. They noticed that the natural vitality of the soils on their farms grew gradually weaker every year as they put on phosphates, even though the farm’s output increased. They found themselves in a cycle of needing more chemicals to maintain their production. They asked Rudolf Steiner a question: how can we farm in a way that keeps the earth sustainable and healthy? 

His response was to travel to a farm in what is now Poland where he gave eight lectures about soil, the earth and sustainable farming practices that used no chemical intervention.

Quoting Wikipedia:

These lectures, the first known presentation of organic agriculture, were held in response to a request by farmers who noticed degraded soil conditions and a deterioration in the health and quality of crops and livestock resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers.

They were among the first farmers in the world to be aware of human impact directly on soils. The 100 people who heard him put his suggestions into practice. They coined a term to describe what they did, and Biodynamic agriculture was born, and spread: bio means life, dynamic means vital and active, in other words, “fostering vital life”, and without chemicals. In 1938 Steiner’s assistant Dr Ehrenfried Pfeiffer wrote a foundational text on biodynamic farming and travelled to Britain where he impressed the agricultural innovator Lord Northbourne who coined the term “organic agriculture” which has been in use ever since. Today biodynamic agriculture is practised over nearly 180,00 hectares in 55 countries.

Chemical fertilizers are a significant contributor to greenhouse gases which are seen as one of the drivers of climate change, and every organic farm without chemicals reduces humanity’s carbon footprint. In other words, Steiner has skin in the game: his contribution to this movement is foundational.

Following in this tradition, Glenaeon is committed to achieving full carbon neutrality by the end of 2020:

  • Solar panels at Castlecrag campus ensure the campus is at times off the grid and generating electricity

  • Over the last break we installed 300 solar panels at Middle Cove which will significantly reduce electricity consumption

  • Our Eco Council reviews our operational practices such as waste management to ensure we are as sustainable as possible

  • Our gardens are all run on biodynamic principles.

  • Our Middle Cove bushland campus is a veritable carbon sink with over 400 trees and undergrowth playing their part in carbon sequestration

  • Explicit in our curriculum is a commitment to the earth as a living organism, assisting our students to understand their responsibilities to the planet in a holistic and living way.

Changing our way of life is not easy. While it’s easy to shout slogans and promote simplistic solutions that gain attention, it’s much more difficult to have the long will and understanding needed to deliver change over the long term. Change will involve a complex combination of engineering and economics, of policy and politics, and of course a good heart for the world. We need good engineers, good economists, good analysts and good politicians who can shape the complex change that the world needs. We trust that every student who goes through Glenaeon will be equipped to play their part, to both understand, and to feel, the complexities this moment in history requires of them, and will have the will to act to help shape a better world.

Parent Survey

Please complete the survey which has been sent out to all parents. You may need to check whether the emails from MYP Corporation have gone into a Junk folder. The survey is an important part of our review of the year past, and assists the school in preparing for the year to come. The survey is conducted entirely independently, and can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as you need for a more extended response. All responses are considered and valued as important feedback. The survey will close on Wednesday September 18th so please take the time over the weekend and complete the survey.