smallWe’re pleased to welcome Henry Greenwood as our latest NAEE Fellow.

Henry is founder and managing director of Green Schools Project, a social enterprise he set up in 2015.  He is also a Maths teacher who, while teaching at Kingsmead School in Enfield, developed the role of Sustainability Coordi­nator, assembling a group of students who embarked on an energy saving campaign that saved the school more than £35,000 over 3 years, started a recycling competition, installed solar panels, created a vegetable garden and carried out various other projects for which they were awarded the Eco-Schools Green Flag.  He used this experience to set up Green Schools Project which supports young people to lead projects that protect and restore the natural world, helping to inspire their school and community to go green.  This enables them to build leadership, communication and teamwork skills while providing them the opportunity to play a role in tackling the climate and ecological crisis.

Details of all our Fellows are here. 

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A study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, asked 251 children and their parents in a lab-based study to rate the attractiveness of pictures of natural or urban environments.  The children, who were all under 11, consistently preferred urban scenes and adults the opposite.

“This was surprising to us,” said lead author of the study Marc Berman.  Certainly it seems to undermine ideas that a love of nature is hardwired, the result of millions of years of evolving in the natural world.  “If humans have such an innate preference for nature, we should see kids preferring it as well.  We did not find that result,” Berman said. It may be that part of our adult preference for greenery is, instead, learnt.

Here’s a link to the Times’ coverage of the story. 

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Monday  12/13  August will be the peak of the Perseids, one of the most famous prolific meteor showers.  Meteors (also known as shooting stars) are bright streaks of light caused by small lumps of rock or metal called meteoroids hitting the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed (in the case of the Perseids around 200,000 km/h).  As they pass through the atmosphere they get heated up by friction to a temperature of thousands of degrees and start to glow.  This causes them to emit a streak of light as they move through the atmosphere.  Most meteoroids get heated to such a high temperature that they vaporise and disappear from view.  In fact, most meteoroids  are vaporised at an altitude of 50 km or higher

The Science Geek has more detail.  

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The Economist says that greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing the frequency of heatwaves – and it will get worse in future.  Here’s an extract:

If your hunch is that this kind of extreme weather is more common today than it was once-upon-a-time, you are correct.  When, in 2003, tens of thousands of people in Europe died prematurely as a result of a two-week heatwave, it was deemed to be a once-in-1,000-years event.  Twelve years later, a study led by Nikolaos Christidis of the Hadley Centre, the climate-research division of Britain’s Met Office, found that heatwaves of this severity had become once-in-100-years events, and would be commonplace by the 2040s.

The question on many people’s minds is whether these changes, and specific events like this week’s temperatures in America and Europe, are caused by greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.  For years, the semi-official line was that no single weather event could be blamed on climate change, only trends. That began to change in 2004, with the publication of the first “attribution” study.  This focused on the European heatwave of 2003, when average summer temperatures broke through a threshold until then unbreached in 150 years of records.  By comparing simulations of a world with and without greenhouse-gas emissions, Peter Stott at the Met Office and his colleagues found that climate change had made the record-breaking heatwave at least twice as likely as it would otherwise have been.

Since then, research of this sort, intended to study how climate change is already promoting extreme weather, has grown rapidly. A recent, extended drought in California has been linked to greenhouse-gas emissions, as was the extreme heat southern Europe experienced during the summer of 2017.  That event was made at least ten times more likely by climate change according to work published later that year by World Weather Attribution, a collaboration between experts in these sorts of analyses.

See this for the full article which also discusses the limitations and risks of attribution science. 

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Farsight Conservation aims to dazzle people into caring about the planet that we rely on to survive with films, art, music and any other medium they can dream up.  They know that understanding the natural world we inhabit and adopting a pro-conservation lifestlye is vital to the continuation of life on Earth.  They try to deliver this important message with flair and humour, to help bridge the disparity between the general population and the complicated science and policies woven into the conservation movement.  In other words, it prefers honey to vinegar.  You can find their films here and there are also cartoons. 

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There’s a new partnership Sustrans and the Ordnance Survey to provide detailed, user-friendly and accurate information on the 16,575-miles of traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes spanning the whole of the UK.  This information will be available as a free layer on the OS Maps website and will help more people to discover routes in their local area and plan weekend trips away.

Each year, around 4.4 million people use the Network, for leisure, commuting and the school run. In 2017, there were 410 million walking trips and 377 million cycling trips on the Network.  More than half of the UK population live a mile or less from the network.

More detail here. 

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Oxfam has published a guide for teachers to the sustainable development goals (SDGs).  It contains practical advice, useful information, cross-curricular activity ideas, and case studies.  The purpose of the guide is to deepen teachers’ understanding of education about and for the goals.   The lead author is Harriet Marshall. 

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From October 2017 to January 2018 CAMFED worked with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in an appeal to help address child marriage in sub-Saharan Africa.  The GirlGuardians appeal raised £2.78 million, including £1.33 million in funding from DFID to match donations made by the public.  CAMFED subsequently launched the programme in Zambia last year, with the intent to protect 16,000 girls from early marriage.  6,962 children have already have been reached through this programme, which is delivered by members of the CAMFED alumnae network (CAMA). They have lived experience of poverty and in many cases were themselves destined to become child brides. They understand the importance of completing secondary education as a route out of poverty.

More detail here. 

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Here’s a detailed report on the school climate strikes in Germany c/o Spiegel on line.  The article originally appeared in German in issue 31/2019 (July 27th, 2019) of Der Spiegel.  It begins: “Just under a year ago, Greta Thunberg launched her campaign to save the climate. The Fridays for Future movement has been growing bigger and bigger and is also experiencing some growing pains, at least in Germany.” 