COP25: some thoughts

COP25 is underway in Madrid. It’s the last gathering of the COP group before the Paris Agreement comes into effect next year. Hearing and reading about it on social media and in the news has encouraged me to write a blog, like the one I wrote in 2015 on COP21.

COP21 took place in Paris and was where the Paris agreement was formed. Although it doesn’t reach the level of action needed to tackle climate change, it exceeds other talks on tackling climate change of this time. Back in 2015, when I had just started my A-Levels, I remember reading about this and getting involved via social media and writing a blog. I also joined 50,000 others on a climate march in London. Such events took place across the UK and the world as they watched the proceedings of COP21. At the time, it was the largest march that I’d attended, and I remember it fondly, which is evident from the blog I wrote.

For me, on a personal level, there in London, it was just mind-blowing. I joined around 50,000 others in the streets of London as we marched through giving out a strong message of how we not only care about the future of this planet but want it to be a safe and sustainable place for everything which lives on it. Now, along with in many, many years to come. All through my body, I felt hope. The smile on my face was beaming as I was surrounded by so many passionate people who are fighting for what they believe in. That’s the thing with climate change, everyone has different stories and reasons why they’re so provoked to act. – A day to remember

It was an overwhelming day! I also wrote in context to the volume of people attending and how ‘this can’t be ignored’. Evidently, I was quite naïve at the time. But, since, the protesting and people power continues in its masses. Just since COP21, we have seen a surge of young people and school climate strikes, and a definite change in public perception. When I attended this event, it was hard to find others from school who wanted to attend, but how things have changed.

The fight grows and as stated by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week, this summit marks the “point of no return” in our fight against climate change. We’re all too aware of figures reporting temperature rising, sea level rising, melting sea ice and its inflicting consequences. We don’t need to be reminded how 2019 is on course to be among the top three warmest years on record. But I believe perhaps things are being taken more seriously here in the UK with ‘climate emergencies’ being announced across local councils, the British Government, large organisations, universities and so on but as we’ve asked all along, how far will this get us.

That’s the thing with climate change, everyone has different stories and reasons why they’re so provoked to act. – A day to remember

I like this line from my blog on COP21, it hits the spot. Young people reacting and acting are putting their education on the line, proving that disasters caused by climate change are going to affect their lives much more than their education. This receives mainly positive responses, including from those in power. It’s more than positive responses we need though. These strikes, event and fights are action, not showing we care. We do care but caring isn’t enough when it comes to climate change. It’s going to be very interesting looking back at this time in years to come.

Of course, it’s not just young people, those of all ages and backgrounds are making their stand. It’s become a big part of the upcoming general election. Most party leaders know that’s what the public will be considering when they vote.

Anyway, my first blog in a while but hopefully not the last. As Greta Thunberg recently said: “People are underestimating the force of angry kids.”

 

The People’s Walk For Wildlife

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing and sorting myself out to start back at university. It still feels as nerve wracking as last year, partly because I’m going to be starting at a different university and on a different course. I’m off to Hull university instead to study Zoology, this is slightly different to the degree I was studying in York, which I decided wasn’t quite for me. Anyway, a slight change of plan but it’s very exciting and I can’t wait for it all to kick off.

In the meantime, this Saturday. I’m pretty certain there aren’t many who haven’t heard, but it’s the People’s Walk for Wildlife. A peaceful walk across London, gathering will begin at around 10 am in Hyde Park, with talks and entertainment beginning at 12 pm before the walk will begin at 1 pm. It will take a route through London to arrive opposite the gates of Downing Street for 2 pm.

It’s called the People’s Walk for Wildlife for a reason. It’s for everyone who simply has a passion for wildlife and wants to protect it. Whatever background, interest or age, it’s about coming together and saying enough is enough. Whether they’re individuals there off their own back, part of a small scale campaign group or from a large NGO, we’re uniting. No more small baby steps or watching the government or media turn a blind eye, we need rapid change to prevent this downhill slope into biodiversity destruction continuing any longer.

That is what this is all about, along with the accompanying People’s Manifesto for Wildlife which was released yesterday. This is a beautiful and very powerful document which has been collaborated by Chris Packham and 18 individual ministers, along with a team of editors, illustrators and researchers. It’s just a first draft though. Neither the manifesto or the walk are a ‘one off’, they’re the beginning of a storm to come.

A link to read the Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife – http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/a-peoples-manifesto-for-wildlife

I’ve been very fortunate and excited to be a part of Saturdays event and have contributed to the manifesto as one of the ministers for Young People in Nature, alongside fellow young conservationist, Bella Lack. The manifesto is a collaboration of 17 ministries which cover a range of subjects and areas with over 200 ideas to make a change in UK conservation. It really is essential reading.

Young people are a serious part of this. After all, this is their future and what they’ll see change more than anyone else, whether that’s for better or worse. A lot has been done to try and engage young people with the day and the manifesto. For example, the ‘Dictionary of Wildlife Wonders’. Of which, young people can add their own contributions to. Or perhaps write a spell or some rhyming couplets all about why they love wildlife, what’s special about it or what their hopes are for the future. You can find out more by clicking here.

As someone with a big imagination and probably makes up their own words and language on a daily basis (unintentionally!), this is brilliant. Here’s my attempt at a rhyming couplet:

Face to Face with a black and white form,

Is it a badger or an everlasting storm?

One of my favourite things to do and it really captured my love for nature as a kid, is watching and filming badgers. They’re amazing animals. But they also represent an arrogant and ill-informed attitude towards our wildlife due to their tie-up in farming and Bovine TB debates, which has resulted in a mass slaughter of these creatures over the past few years. The question of the second line asks whether we’re going to make the right decision; act and be able to come face to face with wildlife in the future. Or are we going to continue as we are and watch biodiversity dwindle and fall, uncovering an everlasting storm.

Radio 4 driven grouse shooting debate

It’s been a while since my last blog. I’ll post another one with some updates over the next week or so, but for now I thought I’d let some of my readers and followers aware of something I’ll be doing tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I’m off to The Game Fair at Ragley Hall, the largest game fair event in the UK and it’s their 60’s anniversary. Known to some as ‘The Festival of the Great British Countryside’, I’ll be joining the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme who are broadcasting live from the event between 7-9am.

It isn’t quite for reasons that the majority of those at the show will be there for though. I’m going to be debating the case for banning driven grouse shooting. Of course, on my behalf, I’ll be arguing with the science and hard evidence on the clear case for banning this outdated past time. Tune in from 7am to listen.

I’ll also be attending and speaking at the Sheffield Hen Harrier Day a week tomorrow, more about that soon though!

Nature deficit disorder: is it having a detrimental effect on kids today?

I only finished my A Levels back in June but they already feel like a world ago after beginning at university. I never thought that I’d say this but I do miss Sixth Form. My interests in ecology and conservation are content now, but I miss the analysing of books and learning about the English language that I did in my English lessons. My teachers were brilliant and I really do miss the excuse to write as part of a lesson.

However, even though I enjoyed it immensely, I got an average grade C at the end of Year 13. I was pleased with this but I didn’t feel as though it justified my passion for writing and the English language. Whilst doing my A Levels, I also did another subject which classed as half an A Level (an AS Level) known as an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). This was completed through the school and every A Level student got the opportunity to complete it if they wished. The final grade either contributed towards UCAS points or appealed to the universities you applied for.

I grasped this opportunity. It was an excuse to do a written project of 5,000 words on whatever subject that I wanted to. Compared to the C I got in English, I managed to achieve an A* in my EPQ. For my study, I looked at nature deficit disorder and its effects on children. Nature deficit disorder is a term used to describe the disconnection from nature that children and adults have developed in recent years. I explored in detail what nature deficit disorder is, the relationship between NDD and children, comparisons to previous generations, the consequences of NDD, the causes and what are the solutions.

I don’t use this word often, but I was quite proud with what I produced. As a result, I have decided to publish it on my blog for others to read. Since I submitted it to the exam board, I also decided to go back over it in my own time and add some extra detail and content.

An EPQ takes the form of a dissertation and the subject should relate to a course of study or future career.  As I have stated, my study was on nature deficit disorder. To begin with, I researched the term nature deficit disorder and where it originates from. It was by American author, Richard Louv, with the publication of the book ‘Last Child in the Woods’. Louv’s book was a key tool when researching and very inspiring.

It was then a case of exploring evidence of the relationship between NDD and children today. What I found was as I expected, a strong link which clearly presented that NDD is common amongst today’s young generations. I was curious to work out when this relationship began to occur so I looked at the generation gap between children and their parents, and the amount of time they both spent outside when they were of the same age. It was clear that a child’s freedom to roam natural areas has decreased compared to their parent’s generation and they are spending notably less time outdoors.

Although I was certain why this was the case, I had to find evidence to support why this was. The most reoccurring reason was due to the uprising of the ‘screen-based life’ with easy access and affordability of indoor gaming and activities to children of all backgrounds. The appeal of such activities is strong for children and young people, and parents are choosing to allow them to do so. It seems that this is convenient for parents as they can keep a watchful eye over their child’s activities and ensure that they are safe. The influence of wide-spread news coverage and the media is to blame for this as it is alarming parents of stranger-danger. However, there are many positive impacts that allowing a child to explore can have.

By which I mean, NDD is impacting upon children’s lives in numerous way. This includes its impacts on mental health, like depression and anxiety, and physical health, such as obesity as children are simply choosing to spend more time indoors which means less exercise. Outdoor activities can also be used as therapy for mental health and for those children who suffer with ADHD. A human’s nature is to spend time outside, this relates back to our earliest ancestors. Due to these consequences, it seems humans are struggling to respond to the quick change of spending less time outside. This links to something I researched called the Biophilia Hypothesis, which is the instinctive bond between humans and nature. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this. The whole process of being deep into research at times during was study was very exciting and satisfying.

Finally, I looked at solutions to reverse NDD. In the UK, there is a lack of enthusiasm from the government regarding environmental education and very little appears on the curriculum. However, the work and idea of Forest Schools is very positive. This was something that I explore in my study. I compared the British schooling system to one of the best in the world, the Finnish approach. Finland’s education success is evident and they have a large focus on outdoor education and allowing children to be more relaxed within a classroom environment with less homework, more time outside and not starting school until the age of 7. They allow their children to play and enjoy a pressure-free childhood.

Doing the project was very interesting and I enjoyed it immensely. It was perhaps one of my favourite parts of Sixth Form. My findings were very concerning as NDD is a clear issue and it is seemingly not being taken seriously by the government or the media as little is being done to reverse it. What I also find interesting is the link between NDD and environmental destruction due to our loss of interest for wild places. My conclusion is that schools are the way forward and the attitude of the government and the media at presenting environmental issues and showcasing it as something that is important needs to improve dramatically,

If you would like to read my study on nature deficit disorder, you can do so here – Nature deficit disorder – Georgia Locock

Opinions, thoughts and adventures of a young conservationist.

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