14/02/2020: Hull’s youth climate march

Yesterday morning, before an afternoon of laboratory practical’s at university, I jumped on the bus and headed down to the climate march in Hull city centre. Since the climate marches and school strikes began, I’ve been to quite a few but never one in my university city so this was exciting as I wondered what to expect.

Of course, what I found was what is present at all marches that took place across the UK and the globe yesterday: raw determination and boldness. Young people defying all stereotypes and knowing exactly what is at stake here. A type of force which I have never seen from a group of people before. From attending such events on issues including the badger cull, foxing hunting or climate change when I was much younger, these are very different. Perhaps partly because it doesn’t have that feeling of being ‘organised’. It’s been assembled by young people who have come along with school friends to exercise their rights for a healthy planet. Of course a few adults turned up to, and altogether it was a very exciting atmosphere.

The march in Hull was organised by the Youth Strike for Climate group for Hull, which I’m very proud to be a part of. The march went through the town, passing the City Council offices and arrived at Queen Victoria Square where some young people spoke. As I mentioned, there were young people and adults of all ages, some were perhaps as young as primary school age. It’s quite a contrast to those marches I went on when I was younger, where the age bracket was more around 30 to 60.

Nevertheless, all were very involved. Bringing homemade signs, chalk and even taking it upon themselves to give a speech or say a few words in front of the other protesters and the public that had gathered to watch. This was incredibly brave, but it was plain to see that this didn’t faze them, and they’d do anything to make the most of using their voices. A common theme we’ve seen across the world over the past few years.

The Youth Strike for Climate events took place across the UK yesterday, as did other Fridays for Future events across the world. My Twitter feed was packed with locations from across the globe, although this is nothing new and hasn’t been for a while now. But this growth of collaborations and movements doesn’t seem to be dwindling. Many of the climate strikes and marches have been happening across the UK for over a year now, some much more, but none seem to have lost any attention. Quite the opposite.

Here are some photos which I took on the day. If you’d like to see more or follow some of the events which took place across the UK (and the world) yesterday and find out about future events, then I recommend visiting these social media platforms:

YouthStrike4Climate – @Strike4Youth

FridaysForFuture – @Fridays4future

 

Downing Street wildlife protection demo

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

– Ghandi

This was the message that I had on the placard I made for yesterdays wildlife protection/anti-hunting demonstration outside Downing Street. Why did I chose this quote? Because it says it all. If a Government is prepared to savage a wild animal in the most inhumane way they can possibly think of in the name of sport then what makes you think they’ll treat humans any better. We all know that animals are innocent creatures which have been on this planet a lot longer then us and at the end of the day their main aim is to survive. They may do small harm to humans but certainly not as much harm as we do to them.

Over the last few days there has been two big protests in London against any amendment or repeal of the Hunting Act. Unfortunately I really couldn’t make Tuesday’s demo but I made sure I was there yesterday to join those in making it clear that we want British wildlife to be left alone and not be a victim of cruelty. People from all different backgrounds joined yesterday to show their support, whether they were young or old or from different areas of the country, we all united outside Downing Street to show that not only us but around 80% of the country do not want any repeal or amendment of the Hunting Act.

As well as this, it wasn’t just the welfare of foxes that we were protesting for. It included all British wildlife like hares which would be affected by a repeal due to hare coursing, deer, they’d be hunted, badgers, a creature that has been heavily targeted by government policies in the past few years and can be affected by hunting in many different way, and many other species. However today was mainly to do with the repeal of the Hunting Act after the weeks commotion.

I say repeal or amendment but repeal is the word I should be using. Even though the Government and the media are saying amendment it is basically a repeal. The Tories are saying that they want to change the law so it’s in line with Scotland, where they use a limited amount of dogs unlike England where two dogs can be used. By doing so it would make it almost impossible to prosecute. Due to this animal charities, like the RSPCA, are accusing the government of approaching an abuse of power with its efforts to bring back hunting by the back door.

On Tuesday though the vote was called off after SNP announced it would be voting against a repeal. When they first announced it this was fantastic news as it was obvious that the ban would stay where it is. However Cameron didn’t seem to like this so spat his dummy out and cancelled the vote. Even though this may sound like good news, especially as under the current EVEL policy SNP would still be able to vote, it’s obvious that Cameron and his chums have some slimy plan up their sleeves. This will be one to watch. In the mean time, as the vote has only been postponed, please get in contact with your local MP and try to make sure that they will not be voting to repeal.

Yesterday, at 12.30pm everyone began to gather at Richmond Terrace which is opposite Downing Street. By 1pm there was a good crowd and the speeches began. Everyone who was there looked great, they either had banners, posters, placards or they were dressed up, wearing hats or had fox masks and overall looked the part. We made a great impression as lots of people walked past. We were also joined by one delightful (sarcasm) man who was a master of a few different hunts and showed no shame whatsoever.

First to speak was Chris Williamson (ex-Labour MP for North Derby). He spoke at the BAWC conference earlier this year which was a great speech and so was yesterday’s. Next to speak was Dominic Dyer, CEO Badger Trust, who normally speaks at the stand up for wildlife and badger marches. Followed by Lynn Sawyer who I’ve also heard talk at past events and then Peter Egan who is an actor and animal welfare campaigner. This was then followed by Luke Steele, animal welfare campaigner, then Anneka Svenska who is a wildlife and Eco presenter. Finally it was Peter Martin who is the chairman of the Badger Trust and an animal welfare campaigner.

After the array of brilliant speeches we then gathered opposite Downing Street for a while before crossing the road and standing right outside the gates. Whilst doing so everyone was shaking their banners and signs, shouting VERY loudly, blowing whistles and much more. Overall we made lots and lots of noise which was fantastic! I thought it was great that we could stand here as we definitely got some attention by people passing by and tourists. Again, even though the vote had been postponed it was still very important to make it clear that we don’t want any repeal now or in the future. This was also made clear by some of the chants. A few were “shame, shame, shame on Cameron”, “blood, blood, blood on his hands”, “No excuse for animal abuse”, “No more killing, no more fear, we don’t want fox hunting here” and a few more too.

Here are a few photos I took.

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‘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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GE2015 Day Three: Badgers and Witney March

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

Today’s blog is slightly different to the last two as I would of done a blog today anyway about the march I went on in David Cameron’s constituency, Witney, yesterday. But as I don’t want to go out of sink with my General Election blogs I’ve decided to do this one about badger persecution and the cull, then include the march I went on in Witney yesterday.

In the UK badgers are one of the most protected species under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 however they are the most persecuted. Since the badger cull was rolled out this has brought all sorts of problems for badgers, for example an increased number of cruelty against them. Every month around 2000 badgers are illegally killed. This includes petrol being poured down setts, snares, dog fighting, glass being put down setts and many more disgusting acts. What makes it worse though is the cull which has been rolled out over the past two years, which has led to an increase in badger persecution, doesn’t even work. Even though badgers have always been a victim to wildlife crime, over the past few years, due to the cull, hundreds and thousands of badgers have been slaughtered and targeted by cruelty.

The badger cull is a very controversial subject. Some think it is humane and effective yet many others disagree with this and believe that it is barbaric, inhumane and inefficient. This is a mixture of a political and scientific debate. There are lots of reasons behind why the badger cull won’t work, I’m not going to go into detail on this post but you can read previous posts where I have spoken about why it won’t work or follow this link to the Badgergate website where Chris Cheeseman explains all – http://www.badgergate.org/guest-articles/why-a-badger-cull-wont-work/

As I just mentioned, a lot of people disagree with cull. So much so that over the past 18 months 30 marches have brought thousands of people from all round the country together to protest against it. Yesterday I went along to the last march before the General Election on Thursday. This wasn’t as such a badger march but it was a march to show how much we care about wildlife and how much it matters. The march took place in Witney, Oxfordshire. This is David Cameron’s constituency and is a Conservative strong hold. Unfortunately even though we’d invited Mr Cameron he didn’t come along but other parties also hoping to represent Witney did. This was the Green Party candidate, Stuart Macdonald, and the Labour candidate, Duncan Enright.

For 1pm everyone on the march met in the town centre. Photos were taken of the banners, placards and supporters, and it was good to catch up with some familiar faces and also meet some new people too. Once we were all ready we set off down the high street. Overall there was probably about 100 people. Even though there wasn’t as many as in Worcester the week before we all made some noise and held our banners and placards high. Whilst making our way through the town we definitely got plenty of attention as it was a busy Saturday afternoon so there were lots of people about. Again it was a great feeling to be surrounded by these people and it was a fantastic atmosphere. I went on my first march a few months back and since then I have tried not to miss any as they are so great to go on. Even though they are good to go on I hope yesterday’s was my last, depending on what happens on Thursday.

After we’d made our way through the town we ended up on Witney Green where we gathered round and listened to the speakers. First to talk was Lynn Sawyer. She spoke last week in Worcester and as I mentioned then she’s done some fantastic work. She spoke about the badger cull and how we should be looking out for setts, no matter what happens on Thursday, hunt monitors, the Heythrop Hunt and their disgusting ongoings, setts being badly affected by hunts, strengthening the hunting act and much more. After Lynn’s talk, the Green Party and Labour Party representatives spoke about their polices linking to animal welfare and the cull. It was quite funny as these were all great representatives and it shows that even in a Tory strong hold like Witney, Cameron has parties fighting against him.

Next to talk was Dominic Dyer. I’ve heard him speak many times over the past few months, including in Worcester last week. He is a brilliant wildlife campaigner and activist who always speaks very passionately and about a number of key issues facing our wildlife in the UK, and gave some examples from abroad too. Last to speak was Nigel Tolley who read out a letter which we were about to post through Cameron’s door. The letter had been written by the organiser, Emily Lawrence. In the letter she stated issues like the badger cull and hunting. This letter was to be poster to Cameron because over the past five years he rolled out a two year badger cull, hasn’t done anything for our wildlife and threatens to roll out the badger cull to more areas and repeal the hunting act if he gets into power again next Friday. This was a reason why the march took place in Witney.

So we all headed back down into the main town centre with the banners and placards held high again, and the shouting echoing down the high street to Mr Cameron’s office. As I mentioned before, unfortunately he wasn’t in but we gathered round outside, the letter was posted and photos were taken too.

Here are a few photos from the day

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Dominic Dyer speaking

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Myself, the organiser Emily (in the badger suit), and fellow young blogger, Alex.

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Gathering round David Cameron’s office door

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Lynn Sawyer speaking

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Myself with the placard I made

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Outside David Cameron’s office

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