Tag Archives: environment

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

GE2015 7 Day Blogs: Speaking for Wildlife

A week today most of you will have a good idea on what party you want to vote for and why you want to vote for them as the polls have opened and you have until 10pm that night to vote. Maybe some of you have no idea at all! For me, I have a great idea of who I’d vote for but unfortunately I can’t as I’m 16.

When we decide who we’re going to vote for we consider many different things. Whether we agree with the parties policies (most definitely) , you support the local MP or perhaps you’re vote is tactical. When I think about what party I’d vote for the first thing that comes into my head is what are they planning to do for our natural world. Do they have an action plan? – As this is necessary. Would their plan be effective? Or do they realise how important our natural world is, is this obvious with what they have said and stand for?

Everyone has different reasons for voting for different parties, most likely it’s because you agree with something they stand for which affects you. As I said, for me that’s nature. But I think more people need to think about nature when they vote. Not just for those who enjoy it and get great pleasure from it but for themselves. Nature helps everyone in all sorts of ways, for most they don’t even know. From the bees which pollinate the food they eat to the trees which reduce flooding and give us the oxygen we breath. It also helps us in a way that we enjoy being outdoors, whether it be due to illnesses like depression or just for pure enjoyment and escaping. At the end of the day, if you look at the bigger picture, nature affects us all in so many different ways which we all need to understand and consider. If we don’t act now though then our nature is going to carry on declining and they’ll be no going back. Due to this it worries me hugely for future generations.

When looking at the manifestos there is a big difference from one to another. Some are very supportive and obviously care greatly about the environment yet others seem to have forgotten that it exists!

Here are some key things I took when looking through all the party manifestos which link to the environment and nature:

Labour

  • The first point I took from their manifesto, to do with the environment, was that a Labour Government would play a leading global role in tackling climate change. It says that this will not be enough to get rid of the threat of climate change but we must adapt to its damaging effects, which are impacting us today
  • They also plan to produce a ambitious adaptation programme and prioritise investments in flood prevention.
  • Deal with the problem of air pollution by giving local authorities the powers they need
  • Keeping forests in public ownership and promote access to green spaces in local planning
  • Support the work of the National Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces, and make them part of our thriving tourism industry
  • End to the badger cull
  •  Improve the protection of cats and dogs
  • Ban wild animals in circuses
  • Defend the hunting ban
  • Deal with wildlife crime associated with shooting

UKIP

  • Not allow the countryside to be over developed with housing. They believe that our countryside must be preserved so it can be enjoyed by future generations
  • Match fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects, such as creating a lake, wetland, repairing traditional stone walls etc. Which will enhance the local environment, encourage rural education, or help recovery from environmental disasters
  • Triple the maximum jail sentence for animal cruelty
  • Keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Conservative

  • Protect hunting, shooting and fishing
  • Give Parliament the opportunity to repel the Hunting Act
  • Put in a ‘Blue Belt’ to help protect precious marine habitats
  • Keep forests in the trust of the nation and plant another 11 million trees
  • Tackle the illegal wildlife trade
  • Spend £3 million, which will enable them, to clean up rivers and lakes, protect stonewalls and hedges, and help our bees to thrive
  • Allow councils to give a fixed penalty on fly tipping,
  • Charge 5p for a plastic bag
  • Go ahead with HS2
  • Tackle international wildlife trade
  • Continue badger culling to control bTB

Scottish National Party (SNP)

  • Continue to support a moratorium on fracking
  • Commitments for carbon reduction

Plaid Cymru

  • Animal welfare law to end animal cruelty
  • Work across Britain and Europe to prevent the spread of invasive alien species, both flora and fauna

Greens (here goes)

  • Protect, expand, properly fund and improve non-car access to our national parks
  • Protect forests
  • Dramatically reduce the pesticides and priorities non-chemical farming methods through improved agri-environment schemes, legislation, education and the promotion of good practise in farming, as well as increased support for organic farming
  • Improve the management of woodland through new planting and the local use of sustainable woodland products
  • Aim to insure through planting that everyone is within 5 minutes walk of a green space
  • Help bees by reducing pesticides, ‘greening’ farming, improving planning guidance to preserve/create bee habitats, and making bees a priority species in biodiversity strategies
  • Promote landscape-scale conservation
  • Repeal the Nationals Planning Policy Framework
  • Work with local communities, scientists, and conservation groups to expand the UK’s network of Marine Conservation Zones
  • Play our part in creating a Southern Atlantic Reserve and champion internationally the protection of the Artic
  • Produce a strategy for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gases
  • Creating a healthy water environment
  • Prohibit developers from being allowed to destroy unique habitats by way of biodiversity offsetting elsewhere.
  • Support the conservation of the environment of the Oversea Territories
  • A complete ban on rabbit and hen cages
  • Tougher regulations on animals transportation
  • Action to stop the use of antibiotics in intensive animal farming
  • End of the badger cull
  • End of the use of snares
  • End the practise of grouse shooting and other ‘sport’ shooting

This is just a short list of the policies that the Green party have included in their manifesto about the environment and nature, if you’d like to have a better look, click here.

Liberal Democrats

  • Creating 200,000 new green jobs
  • Planting 1 million trees
  • Introducing a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags

From tomorrow until next Wednesday, the day before the general election, I will do a blog everyday looking at a variety of a few key topics which affects British wildlife and, in some cases, on a world wide scale. Then next Thursday, I will be summarising all that I have wrote about over the 6 day period.

In the posts I will go through why it’s important to deal with this issue, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been a mention on any party manifesto and much more. With this I hope to help people see some problems we face within the natural world, what parties have said they’ll do to solve this (if anything at all) and be an eye opener. I then plan to share my blog with party leaders and MPs (etc) in the hope they’ll see the problems with these issues and why they need to be dealt with.

Another reason why I’ve decided to do this is because nature and the environment has been barely mentioned during general election campaigns. This is quite upsetting, it’s obvious we don’t understand that nature is extremely important. Therefore its important to express the issue in any way we can.

Obviously there are many issues which face our wildlife in the UK and world wide but unfortunately I only have six days and because I’m currently extremely busy revising and taking my GCSE exams so I’ve had to focus on them a lot too.

The topics include:

Friday – Saving our Oceans. In this blog I’ll be including the massive impact oceans have on all of us, why they need our help and how we can help.

Saturday – Snares. In this blog I’ll be including how evil snares are and why they should have been made illegal years ago!

Sunday – The badger cull. Where I’ll be including all from the badger march in David Cameron’s constituency, Witney, from the day before.

Monday – Helping our bees. In this blog I’ll be including problems facing bees, why we need to help them and how we can help them

Tuesday – Wild persecution/Wildlife Crime. In this blog I’ll be including a range of subjects, from birds of prey to foxes. Also how we need to stop the persecution through things like the police and the general public (which we bring me nicely onto Wednesdays topic).

Wednesday – Inspiring the next generation. Where I’ll be including the replies from my local MPs regarding my Vision for Nature

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