Baked Alaska

You’ll be delighted to know that this is no cooking blog. Well in some ways it is and by that I mean the cooking of our planet. Of course I’m talking about rising temperatures and climate change.

Inspiration for the blog title comes from a show I went to watch last Friday night at Lichfield Cathedral by the theatre company, Riding Lights. I’m not one for theatre really but when I heard about this it sounded very interesting so I decided to go and see what it would be like and I’m happy I did! It was very good. A few words to sum it up would be compelling, comical, entertaining and educational. I don’t find many things educational and comical but this was and it was done very well. Definitely something EVERYONE needs to see!

Over the past few weeks and months my thoughts and actions have been targeted at the run up to the climate talks in Paris this December. Of course our changing climate is having a massive impact on our wildlife and their habitats worldwide. Just yesterday I read an article about how more then a third of the snow leopard’s mountain habitat could become uninhabitable for them due to warming temperatures. It’s worrying stuff and it’s not just putting species at risk but it’s also changing the behaviour of others. Take the cetti’s warbler which has moved 150km further north within the UK over the past 40 years, in a response to the changing climate.

It’s not just wildlife and their habitats either, it’s the environment as a whole along with people. A very clever scenario from the show was that there were two neighbours and one was having a party. However in the garden of the one who was having the party there were lots of rubbish bags that they’d created. To move them out of the way so it was convenient for them and so their party ran smoothly they chucked the bags over the fence to discard of them. To their ‘neighbours’. This was very clever and illustrates how we create lots of rubbish (carbon) which is having a great impact on our neighbours. Which happens to be those in the poorest countries of the world. Their reaction is that they simply can’t do anything about it. No one can deny, we’re all carbon junkies. Perhaps through no fault of our own as it’s what we’re surrounded by and what we’ve turned into but there’s nothing stopping any of us from changing this.

The run up to the Paris talks is major. However it’s very difficult to find a positive streak of me that thinks something progressive could come from it. It’s scary, perhaps the end of this battle or maybe just the start of us pushing even further for a healthy planet.

I’ve been quite busy with A-level work over the past few weeks but obviously I’m trying to balance the books. Some may not agree but this is important. I may be a tiny, tiny voice behind millions but that’s what counts, adding your voice and doing your part. I could still do more but then again everyone can. A couple of weeks ago I went along to a discussion type meeting in Sutton Coldfield that had been organised by the Eco-Sutton group. I not only went to support their work, as Sutton is only a short train journey from me, but to see how they’re working as well as to hear the views and opinions of the local MP, Andrew Mitchell. I imagine many of you may recognise that name from the not so recent ‘pleb-gate’ scandal. Anyway, it was very interesting. Andrew Mitchell is a Tory and not as bad as I thought he would be. He applauded the work of Eco-Sutton and also understood and recognised the problems caused by climate change, to some extent anyway. As you’ll be able to imagine this only went so far.

He went onto criticise the talks from the other two on the panel, Mark Letcher (Operation Noah) and Jamie Peters (Friends of the Earth), and expressed his attitude of ‘we must be realistic’ as well as shove such rubbish down our necks as ‘David Cameron is passionate about climate change’ and ‘the UK is leading in this field’. What he came out with was only to be expected but then again he wasn’t a climate change sceptic which says a lot compared to my MP, Michael Fabricant. At the event it was also quite delightful to have the issue raised about actually looking to the future and the next generation, which caused some discussion. Myself and another girl both stood up and expressed how it is throughout the younger generation, something that is again quite worrying but could well be reversed.

There needs to be a massive movement. There isn’t just a couple of hundred of us who are adding to the problem but pretty much everyone. Nevertheless I shouldn’t go without saying that there is a lot of positive stuff going on but will it be enough? It isn’t all about leadership as quite frankly if we leave it to them then there won’t be much hope at all. This isn’t something we can shrug off or brush under the carpet, it’s serious and crucial stuff.

I wanted to write this blog as I haven’t really wrote many about the matter except the one from the climate rally back in July. I hope to write many more over the next few weeks and months as it is something I’ve been putting a lot of my energy into recently and there’s plenty to write about!

Dear Mr Gibb…

If you read one of my latest posts, Thanks Mr Gibb but nature is important, you’ll know that back in July I met with my local MP and then went onto write to Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department of Education, about the need for outdoor/environmental education on the National Curriculum.

After Nick Gibb’s very unhelpful, but predictable, reply I have gone on to set up a very exciting project/campaign that I hope to share with you all in the next few days. Along with this I also wrote back to him. I haven’t received a reply yet but I’ve decided to share the letter that I wrote with you all.

Dear Mr Gibb

 

Thank you for your reply to my letter, a copy of which I have attached. I’m pleased you took the time to reply to what I had to say regarding the need for more outdoor education at primary level.

 

However, I would like to reply and add to my point. In the letter it seems you have stated what is on the National Curriculum at the moment, I had done my research before sending you the letter so knew this already. I feel as though you have not considered my point and you don’t reply to my statement that we need more young people coming through into either professions in conservation etc or the importance of why every child needs to have a connection with their natural surroundings. I don’t mean to be rude but do you not understand that nature is important?

 

You mention how the environment is included in biology and geography. When I think back to any environmental education throughout my primary education I can’t think of one example. I asked my brother and he said he may be able to think of one, however this was organised solely through the school. The only reason why he remembers this is because it was practical, which is what’s so important. It imprints in your mind due to the amazement you experience.

 

I go into local primary schools and do activities with younger children through community based projects. some of which I’ve helped set up myself. The last visit into a school was just a couple of weeks ago when we did bug hunting with year 2’s. None of them had done anything like this before. When a blackbird flew past, they had no idea what it was.

 

My point is, if there is a teaching of nature in schools which is already on the curriculum then it simply isn’t enough. One of the children said that it was one of the best days of his life! It not only benefited him in the way that he learnt something new but it made him feel better, made him happy. Isn’t making a young child at school happy something that you should aim for? Improving a child’s education? Except I know that he will most likely never do anything like that again. It was a one off project, the school have obviously not enrolled in something like this before or else he would have been able to tell me. In today’s society when most parents worry about dangers and so called ‘dangers’ he probably won’t be encouraged to do it again either.

 

A question I’d like you to ask yourself is when you were younger, how did you fill the time when you had nothing to do or just for something to do in general? If you were like my parents and grandparents then it was the case of just going outside. Climbing trees, riding bikes, playing sport in big open fields, appreciating the wildlife around and so on. Perhaps it was something you took for granted as it was always there and always an option? Your parents had no problem with it and nether did society. As well as this, at the moment, deep down I’m sure you understand and know what towards nature has positive and negative impacts. From Wikipedia I know you were born in 1960. From the State of Nature report I also know that since 1970, when you would of been 10, 60% of animals and plants studied have declined.  Along with other threats too. Now isn’t that scary? Well more then scary, nature not only in the UK but abroad too is in some trouble. We can do what we can now but what about the future? What way will it go? With figures showing only 1 in 10 children connect with nature, I’m very worried and it could well be very bleak.

 

But why is that so important to be acting for nature? Well you just think back to what you had to eat last night, everything on that plate was only there because of the natural world. All the ecosystems. It’s why we’re here today so not only is it beautiful and enjoyable but important to all of us.

 

I’ve gone a bit away from the point but I wanted to make myself clear. Even though some outdoor education is there, I know it varies from school to school. A child isn’t going to develop any type of interest when they have a couple of lessons in year 2 then a couple in year 5. I’m sure you’re very aware that it doesn’t work like that. Although out of school outdoor activities, sessions etc for children are very important, not every child has the privilege to attend.

 

I have many more points that I can add to my argument and I would appreciate it if you could take some more time out and we could arrange to chat about this extremely important subject in person.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Georgia Locock

‘For the Love of’ rally

Climate change affects every single one of us, no exceptions. Whether you live in a suburban estate in the UK, a slum in Cape Town, or a village in the Himalayas climate change will affect you in different ways. That could be the things you enjoy like sport or being out surrounded by nature or the food we eat and places we live. It really is a world wide problem and one none of us can ignore.

We can’t afford to turn a blind eye to climate change any more, we’re heading to complete destruction of our planet due to problems like climate change. Fortunately though it’s not too late and there is a possibility that we can start to reverse this ongoing.

What is climate change?

Above I’ve spoke about how it affects everyone but what actually is it? Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures. Due to this climate patterns change it means more extreme and unpredictable weather across the world. Since the last ice age, which ended about 11,000 years ago, Earth’s climate has been relatively stable at about 14 °C. However, in recent years, the average temperature has been increasing. Seven main sources of evidence for climate change include the rising of temperature, changes of rainfall, changes in nature, rising sea levels, retreating glaciers, decline of sea ice and the shrinking of ice sheets.

In the past century the planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1°C.  This may not sound a lot but on a global scale this is a huge increase and it’s creating big problems for both people and wildlife.

What are the causes of climate change?

There are many causes of climate change. Some are things we all do and some are things which happen on a world wide scale. First of all, burning fossil fuels. Burning any carbon based fuel converts carbon to carbon dioxide. Unless it is captured and stored, this carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that was removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago by animals and plants. Another example of a cause of climate change is the breeding of cattle and deforestation. Industrialised nations have been breeding vast numbers of methane producing life stock and cutting down the forests that naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The trapped carbon dioxide results in trapping more of the suns heat. By doing this it is raising the global temperature. The speed of this change has happened faster then any natural process therefore faster then any natural system can adapt.

Years ago, before any type of modern human activity, carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere. Some people may say why wasn’t climate change happening then? This is because we’ve produced more greenhouse gases over the past century and at the same time we’ve been destroying things, like forests, which would naturally take the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Due to this offset of balance CO2 levels are rising.

Why is Carbon Dioxide a problem?

Carbon dioxide is one of a number of gases that are transparent to the visible light falling on the Earth from the Sun but it absorbs heat emitted by the warm surface of the Earth. During geological history of the Earth the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has varied considerably and this has had an impact on the global temperature. All of the global ecosystems and species have adapted to a lower level of atmospheric carbon dioxide and critically, human civilisation has also grown since that period. Since the industrial revolution humans have been burning sequestered carbon dioxide in the form of coal, oil and natural gas which has the result of releasing energy but also carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour.

Impacts of climate change

As I mentioned before, climate change affects everyone so it has a lot of impacts. It impacts humans as well as animals. The climate plays a major part in our planet’s environmental system, even minor changes have impacts that are large and complex. Climate change isn’t something that’s recently been discovered or something that’s happened over night, scientists were first alerted about the dangers of it 30 years ago. It isn’t something that’s cheap either, the insurance industries estimate the impact of global warming is costing hundreds of billions of pounds each year.

Water – As you will know lakes and rivers supply drinking water for people and animals. As well as this it’s vital for agriculture and industry. Our oceans and seas provide food and supplies for billions of people. Unfortunately climate change is and will have more mayor and unpredictable affects on the worlds water systems which includes an increase in droughts and floods. This impact of droughts and flooding will become more common, causing many problems. Also less fresh water means less agriculture, food and income.

Food and agriculture – Agriculture is highly dependent on specific climate conditions. Increases in temperature and carbon dioxide levels can be beneficial for some crops in some places whereas changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose challenges for farmers. Climate change will have a significant impact on food availability and food accessibility in many parts of the world. It poses a significant risk of increased crop failure, loss of livestock and will have an impact on food security. This will affect human livelihood and health, also natural plants which grow could also be affected by the changes in climate. These plants may be a main food source for many species.

Forests – Forests do everything for us. They purify the air, improve water quality, keep soils intact, provide us with food, wood products and medicines, as well as being home to many wildlife species. It is estimated that 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods, including 60 million people who rely on them for their substances. As well as this they also help protect the planet from climate change by absorbing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. However they’re being destroyed and damaged at an alarming rate by logging and burning to clear land for agriculture and livestock. These activities are releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This problem is so bad that scientists predict 20 percent of global carbon emissions come from deforestation. This is greater then every car, truck and plane emission on the planet combined.

Wildlife – Ecosystems are made up of very delicate balances that can easily be interfered with or destroyed. This balance is more delicate at different parts of the world where climates are different, e.g. the Artic has very delicate balances. When something changes everything can collapse and species can decline. This is one main reason why wildlife is declining due to climate change. There are many different ecological impacts which include change in habitats, shifts in timings, range shifts, spreading of pests and diseases, and many more. Species are adapting to temperature rises by increasingly shifting their range towards the cooler poles or higher altitudes. Species that already inhabit the upper limit of their habitat, like polar bears, snow leopards and dotterels, literally have nowhere else to go. Other species include the British comma butterfly which has moved 137 miles northward in the past two decades along with the dartford warbler that has been steadily moving northward in the UK. Seasonal shifts are another impact, examples include migratory birds like whitethroat, reed warbler and song thrush which are arriving earlier and species like the edible dormouse have been emerging from hibernation earlier by an average of eight days per a decade. Species are also being squeezed out. For example the mountain pygmy possum of Australia is being affected by the warmer winters, emerging from hibernation before its prey, the bogong moth, and often starving to death.

What’s next for the planet?

Here we can go one way or another. We can turn a blind eye to it all and carry on how we are or we can actually take action and take notice. The right way to go is to not ignore it as by doing that we will dig ourselves into a bigger hole and there will be no going back. In some parts of the world it is being taken seriously.

If we do decide to carry on the way we’re going temperatures could carry on rising and we would carry on destroying our only planet. A rise of just 2 degrees would mean severe storms and floods, droughts, seas becoming becoming more acidic, coral and krill dying, food chains destroyed, little or no Artic sea ice in Summer which would not only be bad news for the species there but it would also mean that the global climate would warm faster. Beyond 2 degrees and we could start to see rainforests dying, increased melting of the ancient ice sheets, dramatic sea levels rising, all resulting in people and animals suffering along the way.

Scientists predict that if we don’t act now in the next century temperatures could rise up to 6 degrees.

Whilst doing a bit of research into climate change and Wednesdays rally I found this WWF questionnaire which works out your carbon footprint. I’m a ashamed to say that my result said that if everyone lived like me we’d need 2.3 planets. Now I would of expected it to be a lot lower than this as I do try and do as much as I can. I’m vegan, so don’t eat any animal products, I’ve never travelled anywhere by plane, I tend to use public transport or walk a lot more than just asking my parents for a lift and also I like to think I do my part by making sure I turn lights off etc. To me this shows that even when you do your bit and what you can it is still very difficult. Therefore it’s very important that we lobby, put our point across and try our hardest to show that something needs to be done all around the world to help stop climate change and reduce our Footprint.

‘For the Love of’ rally

When you read and hear about the risk and dangers of climate change, in my opinion, you can’t help but feel helpless. A few weeks back I heard about a rally that would be taking part in London where you could lobby MPs. I’ve been on a few rally/protest things recently and I really enjoy going on them therefore I decided to go along. Not only did I go because I enjoy going to things like this but because I wanted to speak up about climate change. The aim of the rally was for different people who are affected by climate change in different ways to get together and speak up.

Instead of going down on the train like I normally do to events like this, I managed to get myself a seat on a coach. This was much different to going on the train and on the way it was really great to speak to other like-minded people about climate change and their different takes on it. For example, even though I stick up for all impacts of climate change my main one is to do with the natural world. Others on the coach had different takes again so it was really interesting to share arguments and thoughts.

The coach ride was much more enjoyable then going on the train too as when we stopped off at the Oxford service station, on the M40, there was a red kite flying right above my head! I’ve seen red kites lots of times but never that close so it was pretty amazing! When we got on our way again I saw at least another 6 kites down the M40 which was very exciting and really brightened the journey.

Once in London I had a walk around where all the different things were going on before going to find where my constituency was. The event was held around Westminster, after all this is where the MPs are. Throughout the day there was different things going on at different places but unfortunately I didn’t have time to go to all of these as I was waiting around for my MP for a while. All constituencies were lined up along the Millbank, over the bridge and down the other side opposite Parliament. When I arrived at where my constituency was I met two others from Lichfield who were trying to get hold of the MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant. We’d all emailed him as the event approached but he never got back to us. It had said on the website he was coming but not what time. In the end we managed to get hold of his secretary and I sent him a few tweets but we were told he was ‘too busy’. By this point there was a few of us from Lichfield which was really great and I had a good chat with all of them. I also spent a few hours talking to people from constituencies close to Lichfield who were all like-minded people and it was great to share our thoughts and feelings on climate change. By speaking to all these people it really gave me a feel of how passionate people feel about it and how it really does affect everyone. It was also great to meet and have a chat with AFON Creative Director, Lucy McRobert.

As well as this there were lots of people there from different religions. I’m not a religious person but again it was really interesting to hear their different takes and what they think needs to be done. Two main religious organisations which attended the event were CAFOD and Christian Aid. Along with lots of other organisations including the Wildlife Trust, RSPB, WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace, WI and many more.

The theme of the day was to make bunting which I spent all day Tuesday doing. I was very pleased with my bunting and I held it up high during the rally. The rally took place at 4.30. The main ‘stage’,which was an open top double decker bus, was along the Millbank then the crowds of people went all the way down to the Houses of Parliament. The rally was hosted by Arthur Smith and there was a variety of guests. From sportsmen who spoke about how they were affected to young children, farmers, gardeners and many more. There was also three people who spoke from different religious organisations. After a fantastic line up of great and inspiration speakers the rally was finished off perfectly with the band Stornoway playing two of their songs.

One thing Wednesday showed me was how climate change links to everything and it really is a massive problem that needs to be dealt with. However what worries me is are some of the most powerful people in the world actually going to take it seriously. For example my local MP was ‘too busy’ to meet me, I’m not sure why but how can he be too busy to chat and hear opinions from his constituents one of the worlds biggest problems? Maybe not in there life time or my life time we will see profound affects of climate change but we are seeing definite affects of climate change now and if we don’t act now then it will be too late. Some only care about their life time and not the life of those that are yet to be born or the species which are yet to become extinct.

Also one negative point from the day was the lack of media reports as sadly I saw nothing about it on the news. With so many people attending and caring about such a big issue this should have been compulsory.

Here’s a link to the ‘For the Love of’ and the Climate Coalition websites where you can find out more and what you can do.

http://fortheloveof.org.uk/speakup/

http://www.theclimatecoalition.org/

It was a really superb day and I was really pleased to be a part of it. Overall 9,000 people attended and 330 MPs came out and spoke to constituents. Let’s hope some of those MPs took note and take action!

It’s vital we stop destroying this amazing planet.

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Wacky Wednesday!

A few days back the BBC wildlife magazine announced their wildlife power list which consists of Britain’s top 50 conservationist. If you subscribe to the magazine you would of got your copy a few days ago but for those who don’t subscribe you can buy your own copy from the shops tomorrow.

I feel very pleased and honoured to appear on the list, number 48, as there are some well deserving individuals which I admire considerably on there. Whilst reading through I straight away thought some were a great choice, some could have been listed higher up and I could think of probably another 50 people to feature on the list too! Obviously it’s not just myself who has an opinion on the list, on social media pages its been causing quite a stir and has been very controversial. I know from what they have tweeted, the BBC Wildlife Magazine have received a lot of comments about it too.

Personally I think it’s a very good idea but nothing that serious. A bit of fun! The list is based around people who they think will make a considerable difference for wildlife over the next decade. I think a list of people who are going to make a bad impact on wildlife over the next decade would be a good idea too, wouldn’t be too hard to put together either!

Everyone on the list is very worthy to be there in my opinion. Every one has made a great impact to the environment in different ways and will undoubtedly go on and do so in years to come. It was great to see some fellow young people listed too, these were Findlay Wilde and Jack McGowen-Lowe. It was also a good idea to have a mixture of people on there, from broadcasters and scientists to MPs and artists.

As I mentioned before though I can think of quite a few which should definitely be on the list but they’re not. Some include individuals which may keep themselves quiet but they are most definitely deserving wildlife heroes. As I said it was great to see two fellow young people on the list but I could think of quite a few others which are also true wildlife heroes.

One thing that did disappoint me was the amount of women on their compared to men. There was 14 girls on the list compared to 36 male which is quite a big difference!

Never the less I think the list will really inspire those who read it!

bbc wildlife mag

 

I would also like to say that on this Wednesday evening, 13th, I will be appearing on a documentary called the Great British Garden Watch. It will be on at 9pm on BBC 2 and should be a great hour! It will also be including a few other wildlife nuts like Findlay Wilde, and his younger brother Harley, and the wildlife gadget man, Jason Alexander.

You can read more about it here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vmxn2