smallNAAEE has announced its latest group of environmental education leaders who are under 30 years old.  NAAEE says:

These inspirational leaders are using environmental education to address environmental and social issues in communities around the world. This incredible group consists of teachers, conservationists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs that are addressing issues that range from mitigating tensions between humans and wildlife to mobilizing students to take climate action.

The fourth class of EE 30 Under 30 represents 16 countries and was selected from a competitive pool of over 175 nominees.  These leaders were chosen because they are leading the way in harnessing the power of education to create a more sustainable future.  NAAEE will provide this class with professional development and access to a network of 120 fellow leaders from around the world.  A select few will be invited to speak at our 2019 international conference this October.  The program is made possible thanks to the support of the Global Environmental Education Partnership, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Judy Braus, Executive Director of NAAEE, and NAEE Fellow, said: “We are honored to recognize and empower the next generation of environmental game changers from around the world.”  You can find more details here.

There is a commendable global representation to this year’s 30 young people, even though almost half come from North America.  Only two are European (Spain / Denmark), so none from the UK.  Are things really that bad here, or are we just not engaged enough with this process?  ∫∫∫

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The national Global Teachers Award (level 1) is now available from CoDEC – the Consortium of Development Education Centres.  The award promotes skills, confidence and practical approaches to incorporate global learning into the curriculum, and active global citizenship into the school.  Foci include:

  • Global Concepts – exploring the fundamentals of global learning
  • Perspectives – questioning pupils’ and teachers’ assumptions
  • Approaches to Learning – developing critical thinking skills
  • Applying learning – in the classroom, the curriculum and beyond
  • Measuring change – tools for evaluating impact

A course led by Tide~ global learning  in partnership with Beacons DEC is being held on December 5th in Birmingham.  To book a place on the course click here.  To achieve the level 1 award teachers attend the face to face training, undertake a global learning activity with their pupils then submit a written reflective assignment to their trainer.  ∫∫∫

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The Economist has detailed graphics (based on satellite monitoring) of the devastating fires in the Amazon – and elsewhere in the world.  There’s an article as well about the whole sorry affair.  Looking at the data it is clear that Africa is experiencing more fires than the Amazon, but this has not been reflected in the UK TV coverage.  The Times reports that in mid-August there were 7000 fires burning in Angola and 3400 in the DRC – compared to 2000 in Brazil.  Many of these are deliberately set to clear and fertilise land that has been cleared – a practice some 12,000 years old with increasingly ruinous results: in west Africa, for example, ~90% of the coastal rainforest has been destroyed.  Nor is this the worst recent year for global forest fires.  According to globalforestwatch 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 were worse – although only just. ∫∫∫

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Biology teachers everywhere will have noticed the re-emergence of the forests being the lungs of the world myth.  This has a persistence which defies attempts to correct it.  Even President Macron said it at the G7 meeting.  We suspect it arises from a confusion between the concepts of respiration and photosynthesis, and because it’s such an arresting metaphor.  Of course – and sadly – as forests burn, they do behave rather like hyperactive, very polluted lungs, spewing out CO2 (and worse).  Normally, however, oxygen production and consumption are pretty much in balance in forests.  ∫∫∫

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Here’s a link to the Tyndall Centre in Manchester which brings together scientists, engineers, social scientists and economists to address climate, environmental and sustainability issues.  It is part of the wider Tyndall consortium of four UK universities (the others being UEA, Newcastle and Cardiff).  Tyndall Manchester’s research focuses on Energy systems, Carbon budgets and pathways, the Water energy food nexus, Communities, and the Circular economy.  One member of the team, Prof Kevin Anderson is an expert on carbon budgets and off-setting and has been in the news lately because of the current debate about whether off-setting is an appropriate response to using excessive carbon-generating private jet aircraft for personal travel (think climate activists flying to meetings).  Anderson was quoted in the Spectator saying: 

Offsetting is worse than doing nothing.  It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.” 

Kevin Anderson also gave the 2017 Gordon Goodman lecture in Stockholm, co-organised by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Swedish Royal Academy of Science and Stockholm University.  The lecture Mitigation on Methadone: the trouble with negative emissions, took as its starting point the temperature commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement before considering how the prospect of highly speculative negative emission technologies (NETs) is already being used to avoid deep and rapid cuts in emissions today.  The lecture concluded by outlining a headline strategy and timeframe for yet delivering on a decarbonised and prosperous future.

You can watch the lecture here.  The actual talk starts about 20 minutes into the video.  It’s an uncomfortable watch – even for those of us committed to facing up to climate change.   ∫∫∫

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WWF says that 8 million tonnes a year of plastic ends up in our oceans – a threat to people and wildlife.  However, more than 1 million people across the world have now signed a petition calling on governments to make a globally binding legal commitment to tackle this plastic crisis.   WWF also says that this has contributed to policymakers adopting the first meaningful global binding measure on plastic pollution in the Basel Convention in May.  This sets out to prohibit developed economies from sending contaminated plastic waste to developing economies which, WWF says, has empowered many Southeast Asian countries to send it back to the countries of origin. You can  find out more here and sign the petition here.  ∫∫∫

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Plantlife says that road verges are home to over 700 species of wild flower – nearly 45% of the UK total flora – including 29 species of wild orchid.  It says that as other wild space disappears – 97% of meadows have vanished since the 1930s – verges become even more important.  And where flowers lead, the rest of nature follows.  Bees, butterflies, birds, bats and bugs depend on our verges, as the wider countryside becomes increasingly hostile.  This is why Plantlife is campaigning to get road verges managed better for nature.  They’d like support through its Road Verge Petition.

Plantlife says that if verges were looked after properly, there could be 418 billion flowers across the country.  This would be like creating over a quarter of a million acres of meadow.  You will find the petition here.  ∫∫∫

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Click here to read the latest newsletter about research in the Antarctic from the SCAR secretariat.  ∫∫∫

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Activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA have accused a school farm of speciesism because they want to let pupils pet and look after alpacas.  The Times reports a PETA spokesman (sic) saying:  “Like sexism, racism, and all other toxic ‘isms’, speciesism — the idea that other species are here for humans to treat as toys or props, use, and abuse — has no place in an educational institution.”  They added that schools …

should not be teaching children to view animals as objects for their amusement but rather be instructing them in what we know today about their sentience, intelligence, emotional life, and behavioural needs.   Responsible parents should question the ethics of arranging for infant animals to be taken from their loving mothers and sold to the highest bidder.”

PETA has sent its humane education packs to the school in the hope that teachers and students at the school will be inspired to replace “lessons in insensitivity with ones in respect and kindness.”  ∫∫∫