smallIf you click here, you will find the petition by Izzy Lewis, Kamila Chamcham, Rasha Alsouleman and Lucy Gibbons from Cheney School on change.org  who are deeply concerned about the damage we’re doing to our planet and how it will affect our futures.  They say that climate change is the biggest issue of our time, and it must be a part of young people’s education if their generation is to understand it and help combat its effects. That’s why they want climate change to made a core part of the national curriculum.  The girls write:

We’ve barely learned about the climate crisis at school, even though it’s supposed to be part of Geography and Science.  If young people like us are going to have any kind of future, the climate emergency must be a central, core part of our compulsory curriculum. We strongly value our education, and that’s why we desperately need you to help us make a change in the way things are run.  We also want schools across the country to be run sustainably and for this to be a part of school inspections. That way, we will learn about the climate crisis and be part of an institution that is setting an example to us by being run in a sustainable way.”

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The Cheney students wrote an article in the Big Issue Earth Day special.  It focused on youth climate action feature and included detail about the inadequacies of their school experience.  Others featured were:

  • Alex White, 15, a naturalist and wildlife blogger from Oxford, writes about the strikes and how they’re not just an excuse to skip classes
  • Sustainable fashion with M&S. Four young people went to M&S’s HQ to find out how their clothes are helping care for the planet. They quiz experts about the design and manufacture process, inspect a swimsuit made from recycled plastic bottles, find out how cotton is grown sustainably and how leather and wool products prioritise animal welfare.
  • Michael Gove interviewed by 16-year-old George Bond from Dorset, a campaigner for the UK Youth Climate Coalition, covering topics including tree planting targets, fracking, Heathrow expansion, votes at 16 and manure
  • Finlay Pringle, 11, from Ullapool is an environmental campaigner and shark ambassador who writes about protecting the oceans
  • Mya-Rose Craig, 16, from Bristol writes about how climate change isn’t a vague notion to her because she has family in Bangladesh already feeling its extreme effects
  • Sophie Sleeman, 17, from Dorset is an activist with the UK Youth Climate Change Network and writes about biodiversity, bees and reconnecting with nature. Sophie also interviews Green MP Caroline Lucas about declaring climate emergencies and what the future has in store for the young campaigners.

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The Committee on Climate Change published Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming on May 2nd.  Click here to download it.  The report reassesses the UK’s long-term emissions targets.  New emissions scenarios draw on ten new research projects, three expert advisory groups, and reviews of the work of the IPCC and others.

The reports key recommendation is that the new emissions target for the UK should be net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.  The committee says that [i] this will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement; and [ii] it is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80% reduction from 1990.

However, it says, this will only be possible if clear, stable and well-designed policies to reduce emissions further are introduced across the economy without delay, noting that current policy is insufficient for even the existing targets.

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The Centre for Alternative Technology [CAT] has a report on how the UK can get to zero carbon by 2025.  This is a great document for schools to use to study the social, cultural and technological changes that would be needed and to critique what CAT proposes.

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An important Antarctic breeding ground for emperor penguins has been abandoned within the past three years because of changes to sea-ice conditions, according to a new report by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) which used very high resolution satellite imagery to reveal the unusual findings” at the Halley Bay colony in the Weddell Sea.  This was formerly the second-largest emperor penguin colony in the world.  More detail here.

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Click here to read the blog post by NAEE trustee Morgan Philips about his visit to see NAEE Fellow, Tim Baker, at Charlton Manor school in Greenwich.  This begins:

I’d come across Tim Baker via a guest blog he recently wrote for NAEE. In it he described the positive impact the introduction of bees and beekeeping has had on pupils and school life. While speaking to Tim, I learned that beekeeping formed part of a hands-on, experiential approach to teaching and learning all built around the development of a deep understanding of food and wellbeing.

Food and wellbeing have become central theme around which a lot of the school’s curriculum is built. Initially inspired by a Jamie Oliver speech on childhood obesity at a nearby school, Charlton Manor decided to explore it from all angles. Beekeeping and pollination is just one part of this, pupils also learn about how food is grown, where it is grown, how it is processed, food miles, its health impacts and what happens to left over food and food scraps.  ...”

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An Environmental News Network report says that plant-based biofuels are among the top contenders as alternative liquid energy sources for transportation.  However, UC Santa Barbara professor of ecology David Tilman writes in the journal Nature Sustainability that “It is difficult to make a biofuel that actually has environmental benefits.  When a food crop is used to make a biofuel, this, in essence, takes food away from poor people around the world, and, it turns out, offers little, if any, greenhouse gas reductions.”

Up to now, conventional production of biofuels has largely used food crops such as corn, soybeans, oil palm and sugarcane, and these practices have pitfalls, such as intensive use of nitrogen fertilizers, and competition for fertile croplands that had been growing food.  Tillman adds: “Nitrogen fertilizer is a two-edged sword.  It gives us higher yields, but it also releases lots of greenhouse gas and can pollute our well waters and rivers, lakes and oceans.”  There’s more on this here.

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The Science Geek notes that, across the world, it is hydro that is the source of most renewable electricity but argues that solar has many advantages over other sources.

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Here are a list of World Days throughout May and June:

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Polly Higgins, the UK environmental lawyer, who worked to establish an international crime of ecocide, died last week.  This is how the Guardian’s obituary begins:

What would it take to create a legal duty of care for the Earth? That is the question the Scottish barrister Polly Higgins found herself asking 15 years ago.  … Such a crime would render persons of superior responsibility (such as company chief executives and government ministers) liable to prosecution for causing or contributing to large-scale ecosystem destruction. …”

This is her website.

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Bringing an ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum to life is the focus of the 2019 CLOtC conference in Blackpool on November 7th.  The Council asks:

“Do you have an inspiring story, a brilliant activity or a new approach to using learning outside the classroom to bring an ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum to life? If so, we want you to be part of our exciting programme of practical and theoretical workshops to inspire, inform and motivate our conference attendees.”

The deadline for proposals is Friday 10th May.  To submit a proposal for a practical workshop or informative lecture, download and complete the proposal form and return this to emily.carlill@lotc.org.uk