THE YOUNG GEOGRAPHER
THE FUTURE WE WANT The Earthâ€™s Changing Climate Wears a Very Human Face
From the Editor It is a great pleasure to present this special edition of The Young Geographer magazine, The Future We Want. The magazine provides a platform for young people to discuss the issue(s) they are most concerned about and, if they could influence it, what they would change. Young people aged 12-25 from around the world submitted articles on topics ranging from western feminism and infant mortality to Fairtrade. However, the issues concerning most young people were climate change, the wish to lead a more sustainable life, and the inability to contribute to policy, with many young people concerned their voice is not being sufficiently heard. The RSGS and Young Geographer Editorial Team would like to thank Young Scot (see page 06), who worked with RSGS to promote this project to young people throughout Scotland, and also the Gannochy Trust and the Hugh Fraser Foundation for making this project possible.
The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the RSGS. Royal Scottish Geographical Society Lord John Murray House 15-19 North Port Perth, PH1 5LU Scotland, UK firstname.lastname@example.org 01738 455050 Scottish Charity No SC015599
Meet the Editorial Team Fiona Cuthill, Editor Fiona has recently completed an MSc in Water Hazards, Risk and Resilience at the University of Dundee, and works for RAB Consultants as an Assistant Flood Risk Management Consultant.
Stuart Murphy, Sub Editor Stuart is a Geography and Politics student at the University of Dundee, and currently serves as an active member on the Student Representative Council.
Jess McCrone, Sub Editor Jess has recently started studying Geography at the University of Glasgow. She has volunteered for the RSGS, and is a keen traveller who in 2015 volunteered in Tanzania with the Vine Trust.
Erin Fowler, Sub Editor Erin has recently achieved a Higher National Certificate in Social Science and is currently studying Geography at the University of Glasgow. She is also a volunteer for the RSGS.
Rebecca DeVivo, Layout & Design Rebecca is on the Board of the 2050 Climate Group, works for Creative Carbon Scotland and has recently completed an MSc in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh.
Front Cover Image Credit: Antonio Mora (http://www.mylovt.com/)
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IN THIS ISSUE... sections
a changing climate
“The Earth’s changing climate wears a very human face, both in terms of cause, but more notably
A changing climate requires a change in mindset. The articles in this section demonstrate the key role youth can play in tackling climate change and why our environment needs more young leaders.
in terms of effect.” - Hugo Fairclough
4 - 11
where will geography take me?
Young Geographers discuss where their love of geography has taken them and the opportunities they have been given to explore the world.
12 - 17
not your average food and drink section Sustainability and sustainable development are largely dependent upon the impacts of climate change.
In this section, young people explore the issues of sustainability in relation to the agricultural and water resources sectors.
an interview with emily penn
e Young Geographer team interviewed the inspiring Emily Penn to find out her take on climate Th change action and discover how her work has already benefited communities around the world.
18 - 21
22 - 23
Time for action
Young people have discussed their concerns for the future, but how can these issues be addressed? The outcomes of international climate agreements (especially COP 21 and COP 22) are explored.
24 - 31
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a changing climate
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OUR ENVIRONMENT NEEDS LE ADERS The 21st century is a time for new challenges: never before have we faced system changes at such a fast pace, all of which call for our attention right now. Growing populations, urbanisation, biodiversity loss, immigration, financial crises, terrorism and inequality are all high up the list when we talk about the greatest issues facing our generation. These are all critical areas that require fresh thinking and urgent action. There is one issue I haven’t mentioned though. A challenge which the entire human race faces; one that reaches out to every corner of the globe, across borders, religions, cultures and even species. In 2016, we reached Earth Overshoot Day on the 8th of August; this was the day when we had used up all the resources for the planet for that year, meaning that the rest of the year we are running on deficit. Planet Earth does not have an overdraft. There will be no bailouts if we continue to spend more of the environment than we have. Earth Overshoot Day is happening earlier every year. I am upset and frustrated by this and I am not alone. There are others like me out there, seeking alternatives, joining forces and searching for answers. So what do we need to do? Have a vision for the future We need to ask young people to challenge our current thinking and assumptions, to bring fresh perspectives and be key players when we construct our vision for the future. We must work to provide opportunities for discussion, debate, learning and innovation. We have to help them collaborate with other people, join groups, influence, volunteer, communicate and create networks to help spread their vision and turn it into a reality. Plan the journey There will need to be fundamental transitions in food, mobility, finance and fiscal systems, and profound changes in thinking, practices and policy. Previously we have seen that environmental policies do work when well designed and well implemented. Despite this, we cannot simply look to government to provide all of the solutions. It’s time for everyone to take ownership over the environment that sustains our species. By involving young people in policy discussions and focus groups with businesses, NGOs and the public sector, we can channel their vision and empower them to create the world they will inherit.
What about the here and now? The story of climate change is often told with a sinister undertone, it is often future focused, and sometimes the urgency can be hard to grasp. However, strong tangible progress is already being made. In 2014, the global economy grew, yet for the very first time in 40 years, carbon emissions did not. This decoupling of economic success and rising CO2 emissions is vital to meet the ambitious targets set for 2050 and demonstrates the value of reducing environmental harm and focusing on developing eco-industries. Despite the recent recession, a 50% growth has been reported since 2001 for ecoindustries, suggesting we no longer have to choose between economic success and a healthy environment. In 2015, the historic Paris Agreement was signed at the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21). For the first time, every country in the world agreed to sign a commitment for action on climate. Finally ratified in November 2016, this huge diplomatic achievement was the start of a shift in how we deal with challenges that don’t know borders. COP21 demonstrates there is a political, business and public appetite for climate action and the world is ready to find solutions together. Young people are waiting to lead; we must let them The resources, people and initiatives are already out there. We can build on this resource and create new opportunities for climate action in all areas of life. All we have to do is include the voice of young people in our discussions. We must show young people leadership isn’t just about becoming a manager and commanding a workforce. A leader is an early adopter, someone who isn’t afraid to speak out and to stand for something, even if they feel intimidated inside. Leadership is about inspiring and challenging others and ourselves to reach our potential; it’s about innovating and finding new ways to communicate a message. My role in the 2050 Climate Group taught me all of this, but more importantly it has given me a voice and it turned my engagement to action. Whilst I know climate change may be the biggest challenge of our time, I am convinced it will be our generation who can, and will, rise to meet it.
We must encourage, include and trust young people to help plan how we tackle 21st century challenges.
- Jane Morrison, 2050 Climate Group
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”YOUNG PEOPLE ARE
YOUNG PEOPLE IN SCOTL AND: DECISION MAKERS OF TODAY, NOT JUST TOMORROW Here at Young Scot, we believe that young people are amazing. From all of the work we do, we know young people are passionate, positive, active, creative and innovative. They are also compassionate, and care deeply about their families, friends and communities. We believe that young people are not Scotland’s future, they are powerful and positive assets to our communities here and now. It is both a very exciting and a challenging time to be a young person living in Scotland. While there are many changes happening all around us, there has never before been a greater emphasis on involving young people in the decisions relating to their lives and those changes. The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament led the way in the UK by extending the voting franchise to young people from the age of 16 to enable their voice to be heard and valued in the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence. This was further embedded by passing legislation to lower the voting age to 16 for all Scottish national and local elections. While this opportunity to engage in representative democracy is incredibly important, we know that young people want to have a bigger say in the decisions, made locally and globally, that affect their lives. This hunger from young people for participative democracy and an active role in their communities underpins Young Scot’s commitment to codesign – an approach supporting young people to engage as early as possible in the decisionmaking process, share their knowledge and power, and work in partnership to develop new ideas and solutions to current challenges. That is why Young Scot were so keen to support this RSGS project to give young people a voice through this Young Geographer magazine. At a national level, the Scottish Government has stated that “Scotland’s people are its greatest asset: they are best placed to make decisions about our future, and to know what is needed to deliver sustainable and resilient communities.” Flagship legislation and policies on Community Empowerment and Children and Young People evidence the commitment of Government to developing policies and services with young people rather than doing
to young people. Young people have a right to have a say in the decisions which affect their lives under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is vital their voice is heard and that they are supported to contribute to decision making so they can shape policies to best value their strengths and meet their needs so we can all benefit from improved outcomes for young people. This is essential if we are to achieve the shared vision of Scotland as the best place in the world to grow up.
- Mark McGeachie, Partnerships and Innovation Director (Depute CEO), Young Scot
“There were 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 years globally in 2015, accounting for one out of every six people worldwide. By 2030, the target date for the sustainable development goals, the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7%, to nearly 1.3 billion.” - UN DESA Report
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- Amy Cowan, 17
“Young people in our society are too used to being at the bottom, too used to being ignored and diminished. We want a future where we can be heard. A future where everyone is equal.” - Zara Grew, 15 “We all just need to realise how valuable the world is and how we should treat it with respect. I really hope we can all come together and make our future society better.”
- Alicia Stevenson, 12
“The future my generation wants is that we remain dreamers and innovators, constantly improving and moving forward towards something better.”
- Beth Miller, 17
“There is work to be done on how we can engage all ages of young people on the issue of climate change to enable them to make pro-environmental behaviour changes.”
“I want a future where nothing is wasted: time, resources, human potential. Our future society should enable every person to pursue their dreams within the planet’s means.”
“I want to see people stand up for what they believe in... I want to see acceptance and love... Love could change this world for the better... The future we want is respect, honesty and love.” - Marnie Davidson, 13
- David Townsend, 25
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photos: Ewan Rawcliffe ©
- Richard Dryburgh, 24
THE KEY ROLE YOUTH CAN PL AY IN TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE Climate change poses an existential threat to today’s youth and future generations. The Paris Climate Agreement, signed in December 2015, made an important step in the global effort to address this challenge. Notably, the historic Agreement was influenced by young people; directly due to their efforts, it included an article concerning education and made the first-ever reference to “intergenerational equity” of any international legal document. Yet despite these victories within the negotiations, much more effort is needed to empower young people and to ensure they will inherit a habitable world. The Paris Agreement’s Article 12 (which young people fought for) provides a helpful framework to discuss youth empowerment on climate action. It identifies five key areas: education, training, public awareness, public participation, and public access to information. Known collectively as Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), these broad categories are aimed at supporting the implementation of all other climate actions under the Agreement. ACE is especially relevant for young people, given the many capacity challenges they face in attempting to respond to climate change. The main impediments facing young people are a lack of knowledge, financial resources, and political influence. Education, training, and awareness-raising can address the first gap by bringing more youth into the fight against climate change and equipping them with the tools to take action. Directing public and private funds into the hands of these young people will then enable them to undertake concrete projects for mitigation, adaptation, and other needs. Finally, the marginalized voices of young people require the creation
of genuine opportunities for youth participation in the decision making about their future. Existing programs demonstrate how to address these three gaps. A growing number of school and university curricula include courses about climate change and sustainability, while some also involve students in campus-level mitigation projects. Many youth organizations exist to provide peer-to-peer training in a variety of related skills. The Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility has piloted a number of youth-led projects at the local level in several countries. At the climate negotiations, a few countries include official youth representatives on their delegations to help bring the voice of youth into their deliberations. These efforts are but a few examples, and while they may be small now, with proper funding they could be vastly improved and replicated across multiple levels in order to empower more young people for action on climate and sustainability. The urgency and the justification for youth empowerment are clear. A significant gap remains between the emission reductions which countries have pledged and the amount of reductions necessary according to the science, placing young people and future generations on a trajectory for extremely hazardous levels of warming. Indeed, projections indicate society may have as little as the next five years to effect significant greenhouse gas reductions, or face crossing a tipping point into irrevocable climate catastrophe. Such an outcome would violate the principle of intergenerational equity – the idea that each generation has a responsibility not to benefit at the expense of harming the generations who follow them – which was also recognized in the Paris Agreement.
Young people need to be given a strong say in the decisions society is making today about our common future. The easy rhetoric about “youth as the leaders of tomorrow”, or even as the leaders “of today”, is not sufficient. Without a real voice in the short term, only negative options will remain for today’s youth and future generations by the time their ‘long term’ comes. Further, they need the education, training, and mentorship from their elders now that will prepare them to face the even greater challenges yet to come in the effort to address climate change and achieve sustainable development. The clock is ticking. Signing the Paris Agreement, while crucial, only marked the end of a slow beginning. Now is the time for action, where all the elements of ACE must be a priority. The capacity gaps and their remedies both are clear. Only the political will is yet needed to empower the youth who have both the right to be the authors of their own future and the responsibility to secure that same right for the future generations who hopefully can follow them.
- Timothy Damon, 2016 YOUNGO Focal Point to the UNFCCC at YOUNGO
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University of Dundee Hydrology ©
THE NEED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE Some months ago, the UK Committee on Climate Change published one of the world’s most comprehensive reviews of the risks posed by climate change: the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report. The report paints a stark picture of the need for action to improve our understanding of the risks we face from our changing climate. It not only points to a need for more research, but also presents a compelling case for action now to actively prepare us for the effects of climate change.
The risks in Scotland Scotland has relatively lower temperatures and higher levels of precipitation than other regions of the UK. Our population lives over a relatively large area with some areas very sparsely populated, many considered ‘remote’. We also have an extensive coastline and almost 800 islands. Obviously, this means the climate adaptation challenges are different for large parts of Scotland than from those for example in the south of England.
An urgent need for action Most of the risks described in the report were set out in the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment in 2012 and we have been developing our understanding of them since then through research and practical experience. However, in many cases there is a need for deepening that knowledge, particularly where the risks will compound each other and where we know we need to act long before we understand the full extent of how our climate will change.
Scotland is home to unique flora and fauna. The report describes a range of risks to Scotland’s species, habitats and ecosystem functions, and a series of actions to help those adapt to climate change. The report urges action to improve the condition of degraded soils, restore peat habitats and encourage soil conservation – again, all of this will help ensure Scotland’s soils are best able to withstand impacts from climate change.
So, we are facing an urgent need for action – both practical and in terms of research. The headlines The report not only considers the urgency of further action to tackle current and future risks, but also looks at how we can realise any opportunities arising from climate change. Almost 60 individual risks and opportunities were assessed. At a UK level there are six key risks: • flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure; • risks to health, well-being and productivity from high temperatures; • risk of shortages in the public water supply, and for agriculture, energy generation and industry; • risks to natural capital, including terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater ecosystems, soils and biodiversity; • risks to domestic and international food production and trade; • new and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive nonnative species, affecting people, plants and animals.
The risk of river and surface water flooding in Scotland is expected to rise, as patterns of rainfall become more intense. Western areas of Scotland in particular could see significant increases in heavy winter rainfall, affecting our buildings, our infrastructure and Scotland’s natural environment. Much is already being done to prepare Scotland for climate change’s impacts. The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme and many actions flowing from it are helping to ensure we are climate-ready. Communities and organisations across Scotland are taking action. The Evidence Report is a spur to accelerate this action to ensure that we continue to strive for a deeper understanding of the risks we face and build climate adaptation into every decision we take.
- Ragne Low, ClimateXChange Programme Manager
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WHY WE DON’T NEED BET TER CLIMATE POLICIES For the past couple of decades, we have been asking and we continue to ask the wrong questions about addressing climate change. And we are doing this at every level of decision making and activity. We do not need better climate policies or more climate action; we need better energy, finance and investment, waste, agriculture, transport, health, planning, and education policies. We need to redefine ‘business as usual’ not through ad hoc climate action programmes and initiatives, but through careful revision of established practices everywhere. Even the term ‘climate action’ or ‘climate policy’ is a bit of a misnomer. In order to keep us under 1.5˚C, to have the extent of transformational change in our systems, structures and societies necessary to not impose catastrophe on communities around the world, the biggest changes that will need to take place are actually not in the field of climate action, climate policy, or environmental policy, but everywhere else. This careful revision is what I mean when I talk about ‘mainstreaming’ climate action. The systemic change that we are looking for and working towards is not going to take place in the area of climate policy; it’s about mainstreaming and embedding the idea of a 1.5˚C world. Mechanisms like standardized individual, organisational or departmental carbon budgets, an adequate price for carbon, a sustainable development advisory body, or the implementation of a ‘true cost’ for consumer products (where consumer products incorporate the environmental and social impacts and costs into their price) are just a few of the ideas that have been developed. These are just some of the options; however, they have been stigmatised for the extent to which they will impact ‘business as usual’. In Scotland, we should not be asking questions about how to increase the ambition level of our emissions reductions targets, before asking whether current or future policies in other areas are compatible with our climate action needs. For example, is the proposed cut in the Air Passenger Duty tax compatible with the current climate policies? We should not be developing climate change policies on air travel, but air travel policies that have embedded within them a low-carbon model and the ability to achieve science-based emissions targets. What this challenge boils down to is a bigger question about our relationship to conflict and our ability to do anything about it. In the same way that war-torn Syria is far enough away to enable a business as usual approach to the conflict, climate change is far enough away that it’s not a priority. So, how is it possible to have effective climate policies, effective climate governance, on any
scale, when climate change, which is caused by activities outside of the policy area, remains isolated from the policy areas that cause it? Climate change is caused by externalities to the policy area, and in order to properly address it, it is time for those externalities to embed it as a priority. The issue has also been framed in terms of a ‘well-end’ versus ‘tail-pipe’ issue – how can you manage what is coming out of the ‘tail-pipe’ without knowing what is going in? The short answer is: you can’t. Many people have talked about the policy-action gap in the arena of climate action. However, I believe this is defining the problem in the wrong way. A climate change policy-action gap implies that the gap between climate policy and action is the problem, but actually it is the gap between climate policy and all other areas of policy and activity that is the real problem.
- Elizabeth Dirth, Chair of the 2050 Climate Group
“Engagement of climate change through education, the media or other societal platforms creates awareness of environmental issues and gives meaning behind the small changes in behaviour required for a low carbon future.” - Richard Dryburgh
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CLIMATE CHANGE IS A CULTURAL ISSUE We are currently living in ‘Climate Hell’. A time of rising sea levels, increased temperatures, more frequent and extreme weather events, food insecurity and biodiversity loss to name a few. A time where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses climate change as “the major, overriding environmental issue of our time.” And yet, the global concern for climate change averages at around 54%. How is it that these threats of climate hell, which are getting worse year on year, haven’t fundamentally altered our behaviours, our cultures, our ways of living despite the visible warnings? In my opinion, getting to the root of this problem requires a greater understanding of our Western culture. In the Western world, we live in a culture of consumption. A culture of take, make and dispose, a culture very much responsible for climate change. This way of living is highly unsustainable, and to sustain this lifestyle in Scotland would require approximately three planets. What can be done to keep us confined to our planetary limits without compromising progress and halting growth? One answer would be to move our culture away from consumption and towards environmental stewardship. There are potentially several opportunities to make this cultural shift a reality; however, I have focused specifically on two. A culture shift through changing people’s cultural identities In the National Geographic film Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio speaks to Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi, India and stresses the fact that changing consumption behaviours in America (and probably most other Western countries) is “probably not going to happen.” He may have been playing devil’s advocate but his pessimistic attitude disappointed me. I have witnessed first-hand how individuals have changed their consumption behaviours, myself included. According to Andrew Hoffman, “We relate to climate change through our prior ideological preferences, personal experiences and knowledge.” These cognitive filters inform our cultural identities and position us amongst groups with which we can self-identify. For example, it is easy to connect and establish new connections in groups with which we share similar interests, such as music, sport, academia, etc. It is also easy to be influenced by these groups and their shared values. For example, associating oneself amongst climate sceptics (although that might not be what the group identifies as) will only breed thoughts of denialism,
regardless of the amount of scientific knowledge produced in front of that group. This is due to the high value we place on other individuals and what they value or believe in. You are far more likely to listen to a friend or trusted source rather than a scientist you have no prior connections with. It may seem simple, but I believe there is an opportunity here for each of us to use our knowledge to influence those around us, in the cultural groups we live and work in. If climate change is a cultural problem, altering cultural identity is one such way to shift consumption behaviours and find solutions. If everyone did that and consumption and waste levels decreased, think how that would shift demand and change the market economy! A culture shift through the arts and cultural practices If climate change is a product of the way in which we live, it is as much a cultural issue as a scientific or technical one. The arts are the expression of our culture and therefore are also a way of understanding, interrogating and changing wider society. However, the role of the arts in the context of climate change is often confined to a communication of scientific facts, negating a much wider set of creative approaches and ways of thinking that could be usefully brought to the area. We therefore need to establish new opportunities for the arts and climate change/ sustainability to work together to deliver this cultural shift. As German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote, “Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Let’s look to the arts to inform us of new, creative solutions to tackling climate change. Climate change resides everywhere. The physical and cultural ideas of climate change exist across Earth and through humanity. It is essential for us, especially us young people, to consider how both are essential to addressing the current and future climate problems. Only then will we move away from a Climate Hell and towards a Climate Heaven.
- Rebecca DeVivo, Events & Communications Media Officer, Creative Carbon Scotland
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Ewan Rawcliffe ©
WHERE WILL GEOGRAPHY TAKE ME?
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In 2015, an opportunity of a lifetime arose following the adventures of two pupils who had been on a Vine Trust work party to Tanzania. Awestruck by their experience, they organised a party of Perth Grammar School pupils to become a work party to build two houses for vulnerable families. Over the years, my studies in geography have created an awareness in cultural diversity throughout the world. This inspired me to apply to go on this once in a lifetime trip. We would be immersed in a completely different culture, living in an amazing geographical landscape: waking up to views of Kilimanjaro and visiting the Ngorongoro crater. I would also be given the opportunity to meet inspiring people and help improve the lives of two families. The prospect of changing someone’s life was daunting and, before leaving Scotland, it was incomprehensible. Until this trip, I had been given very little chance to personally witness real poverty. In our lives, we are exposed to a certain perception of poverty through adverts on TV, the news and in school. For me, this exposure had created an impression of unhappiness and hardship within these people’s lives. However, in Tanzania we saw the complete opposite: the people we met lived with great hardship, yet their lives were rich with kindness and love. Ultimately, they were the happiest people I have ever met. Our time in Tanzania was a constant learning experience with long, busy days and participating in inspiring trips to different projects throughout Moshi. I was in awe of the people we met. Everyone had a natural sense of
Jess McCrone ©
MY TRIP TO TANZANIA
compassion towards us and took interest in our lives in a way that surprised me. This sense of compassion was evident in many of the projects we visited, such as Fuka, a school which, with the help of the Vine Trust, had also built a home for orphans, giving children the chance to live in a safe environment while providing an education which they may otherwise not get. This positive environment enriched our time there and it amplified the sense of pride we felt while building the homes. During our work days, our group was split into two different work parties alternating between visiting the two sites. We built a house for Wilfred and his family of five. Wilfred was a very old man and the sole provider for his family – his wife and daughter, both mentally handicapped and therefore unable to work. They lived in a one-room house made of sticks and mud with a roof that leaked when it rained and a floor covered in clothes and cloth as bedding. The group and I found it extremely emotional witnessing these living conditions first-hand.
Jess McCrone ©
As a result of this unforgettable trip, my friend and I started fundraising in our school to raise money to send children to school in Tanzania. Although these people lead a happy life with very little, the opportunity for an education would open many doors and help them better their lives. As they say at Fuka, “education is light.”
- Jess McCrone, Geography and Sociology Student, University of Glasgow
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CHASING ICE: A CASE STUDY FROM SOUTHERN ICEL AND Structural glaciological evolution of rapidly receding temperate piedmont glaciers
My PhD project focuses on the structural glaciological evolution of rapidly receding temperate glaciers (Morsárjökull, Skaftafellsjökull, Svinafellsjökull) in southern Iceland to demonstrate how these highly sensitive ice masses are responding to the current period of accelerated climate change. Over the past two decades, Iceland’s glaciers have been undergoing a phase of accelerated retreat due to warmer summers and milder winters allowing melt all year round. For example, since 1932 both Virkisjökull and Falljökull glaciers have undergone over 1,200m of retreat punctuated by one major advance of approximately 180m between 1970 and 1990. Southern Iceland’s glaciers are exceptionally sensitive to climatic fluctuations from annual to decadal timescales, making them an ideal natural laboratory for the study of glacier response during the current period of climate change.
Over the coming years, field work will be carried out in order to gain a full understanding of the structure of these glaciers and how this structure is being altered as a result of climate change. - Ailsa Guild, PhD Student, University of Durham and British Geological Survey (Edinburgh)
Ailsa chose to study glacier retreat because, after growing up in Scotland surrounded by hills that have been modified by glacial processes, she was keen to understand how the landscape has evolved and will continue to evolve as the climate warms.
“If there is to be any chance
Karl Hsu Photography©
I am investigating structural responses of glaciers to recent accelerated retreat into greater than expected erosion (overdeepening) which has developed beneath the glacial margin in response to the warming climate. Awareness is growing on the significance of these landforms in ice sheet systems; however, an overall understanding regarding the formation of overdeepenings is lacking, meaning observations of the location and morphometry (scale and shape) of the landforms are urgently required to motivate process understanding. A series of detailed structural glaciology maps will be constructed using remotely sensed data archives from the 1950s to 2000s, to highlight structural changes within the glacier during this period. Structural maps will aid the development of automated mapping techniques (fracture densities, lengths and orientations can be quantified spatially and temporally) in the assessment of structural glaciology to allow detailed remote mapping to be achieved on worldwide glaciers that are actively retreating due to climatic fluctuations.
of avoiding the environmental destruction for which we are on course, it is essential that we rediscover an appreciation of the fragility of the environmental systems upon which our lives depend.” - Jamie Wylie
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I’m not really sure what word describes me best: ecologist, naturalist, conservationist, biologist, general outdoor enthusiast... I could go on. So what is it I actually do? My main interest lies in understanding ecology and ecosystems, looking at the animals and plants present and how they interact with each other, and understanding the effects of humans on our countryside. However, I also try to encourage people (especially young people) to get out and enjoy nature. My interest first started at a young age as my gran introduced me to the concept of bird-watching, and it all grew from there. I really started to expand my knowledge a couple of years ago and I’m now about to start a year-long internship with Scottish Natural Heritage at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve. I have gone on to turn my hobby into a career as I am currently studying Countryside Management at Scotland’s Rural College. This course covers a wide range of subjects, from ecology to history, geology to countryside recreation. This course aims to give people the knowledge and skills that are required to become a ranger. The job of a ranger is just as varied as the course I’m doing. Whether it’s assisting volunteers in the repair of a path, making people aware of the historical significance of a site, or noticing the changes in wildlife over time; all of this is
Ewan Rawcliffe ©
MY PASSION FOR THE OUTDOORS carried out by rangers across Scotland. It is my ideal job. Currently, I spend a lot of time simply going into the countryside trying to put what I have learnt into practice. For example, at the start of 2016 I did a lot of botanising and found that there were around 30 species in flower on New Year’s Day on my local patch. This seemed to me to be a clear sign of climate change, another thing that I try to understand and combat. However, I realise I can’t combat climate change on my own. I am devoting my efforts to reaching out to people and helping them understand threats to our wildlife, including climate change. Instead of just teaching myself, it is much more effective for me to educate people as to what they can do to reduce their impact on the world, and to show them why they should want to reduce their impact. The natural world has been proven to be good for our health, and we need it in order to sustain ourselves. If everybody works to protect the environment, it makes my job easier and keeps the world happy.
- Gus Routledge, Intern, Scottish Natural Heritage
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Ryan Connolly ©
THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: WHO CARES? As a traveller who has visited and lived in 32 countries and all seven continents, my awareness and perceptions of how the world is beginning to adapt to climate change is beginning to increase. I may as well be frank. It seems to me that no-one really cares about how the world is being affected by climate change on a daily basis. Not in a selfish or insular way – but simply because life is far too busy to worry about the world on such a large scale. However, it is evident to me that people do care about how their communities are being affected by it. From my travels, these examples give an insight into the struggles communities face, as a result of climate change.
1. In a village near Pollachi (India), people are using
discarded plastic bottles to store water to minimise the impact of big businesses sourcing water from already weakened rivers – a result of climate change increasing incidences of drought. 2. The constant advancement of the desert into agricultural areas near Errachidia (Morocco) has led to locals growing micro-crops in every available space around their houses. 3. Scientists and guides are creating climate advocates through tourism by teaching them how Alpine glaciers in Iceland, or the pristine Ice Sheet of Antarctica, are disappearing at an almost exponential rate in certain places.
4. In remote areas such as the Catskills in New York
State, or Coral Bay in Western Australia, recycling is advocated, but rather than encouraging people to recycle more, for example, in Coral Bay, the authority resort to taking cardboard to an area of the desert where white ants can devour it – removing any trace of waste which may pollute in the future.
From these and various other personal experiences, it appears to me as if people are using the concept of climate change to motivate themselves and educate others to reduce their impact and share resources wherever possible. I just hope world leaders will follow suit. The recently signed Paris Agreement will see climate actions across the world, and a new sense of responsibility from big businesses. Let’s hope that this galvanises the world to take action and that the changes we make are enough.
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- Ryan Connolly, Glacier Guide, SE Iceland
THE FUTURE WE WANT
How can taking action on climate change help us deliver the future we want? “Everyone should have equal access to the support they need and to opportunities that would enable them to thrive rather than merely scraping by... It is time for action, not just talk.” - Fiona Mathieson, 24
“The future I want is a world that helps out all humans, no matter their background, ethnicity, nationality or other things.” - Brooke Crosby, 12
“Whatever you do now will change what is going to happen in the future, so step up and do something that will make the future a happy place.” “Every day we are one step closer to achieving equality for all and it will hopefully happen within our lifetime.” - Zoe Mainus, 14
- Rebecca Swanson, 12
“The future we want is a future where we do not have to worry about war and conflict.” - Lauren Grant, 14
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NOT YOUR AVERAGE FOOD & DRINK SECTION
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WILL REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE HELP SCOTL AND BECOME TRULY SUSTAINABLE? ‘Sustainable Development’ is a term that has been used for decades to encourage the effective management of natural resources for current and future generations. Despite this knowledge, we have seen significant environmental degradation through exponential economic and population growth. Preserving the natural environment through sustainable development practices is simply not sufficient to counteract previous generations’ bad environmental decisions. For successful sustainable development, regeneration of the environment, especially soils, is most important if future generations are to prosper. The International Year of Soils (2015) has increased awareness of the importance of soils, in particular soil health, emphasising how centuries of poor farming practices have triggered soil pollution and degradation. This awareness has prompted regenerative agricultural practices to be included in agricultural policy in a number of countries including Australia and the USA. What is regenerative agriculture and why is it not widely adopted by Scottish farmers? Although originating thousands of years ago, regenerative agriculture is unfamiliar to many. Only now, in the face of climate change, food shortages, and the need for a sustainable environment, are we beginning to learn more about this practice which seeks to rebuild soils and restore ecosystems whilst increasing produce quality and farm profitability. Regenerating degraded soil takes thousands of years simply to build a few centimetres. The use of increasing chemical inputs masks the long-term problem with soil degradation, but with the economic importance of food and drink, we can’t afford to keep ignoring this. But why should Scottish farmers engage in regenerative agriculture? Regenerative agriculture does not require skills or resources that are not currently operating on most farms. It endorses DIY recipes for biofertilisers, new grazing management practices, and effective and minimal use of machinery – all reducing land degradation and developing a sustainable local food economy.
First and foremost, establishing a local food economy reduces the need to import produce. Currently, local food is a small part of consumers’ overall food spend, calculated by the Scottish Government at 1-2% each year. Using regenerative agriculture practices, this could progressively increase, allowing local communities and countries to become increasingly self-sufficient. Secondly, environmental stress caused by climate change is widely acknowledged, yet its impact on agriculture is rarely mentioned. Adopting regenerative agriculture would help mitigate the effects of our changing climate whilst improving soil health. For example, soils are regarded as one of the greatest carbon sinks; therefore, regenerative agricultural techniques would rebuild the biological capita of agricultural land where an increase of 1 tonne of soil carbon can yield increases of, for example, 20-40kg/ha for wheat, 10-20kg/ha for maize, and 0.5-1kg/ha for cowpeas, whilst offsetting a 5-15% reduction in global fossil-fuel emissions. Regenerative agriculture should be a part of Scotland’s farming future It provides opportunities to achieve sustainability goals whilst continuously improving soil health and consequently the quality and quantity of produce. It is a win-win situation for both the farmer, in terms of productivity and financial gain, and the environment as nutrients and water are retained in soils thus removing the need for expensive, polluting chemical fertilisers. With Scotland’s population set to break the 5.5 million barrier by 2033, soil health is increasingly important as without regenerative agriculture, sustainable development cannot be achieved with the current rate of soil degradation. In England, regenerative agriculture is in its infancy with workshops, seminars and short courses delivered to promote this method of farming, although it is yet to be incorporated into agricultural policy. Adopting regenerative agricultural practices in Scottish farming policy will be key towards creating a sustainable environment for future generations in Scotland and beyond.
- Fiona Cuthill, MA Geography and MSc Water Hazards, Risk & Resilience Graduate, University of Dundee
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CRE ATING GOOD FOOD FOR ALL: COMPARING FOOD MOVEMENTS IN SCOTL AND & PERU What do Scottish and Peruvian food cultures have in common? Aside from the shared love for tatties/papas and Irn Bru/Inca Kola, there are similar efforts in Scotland and Peru to encourage healthy and environmentallyfriendly eating habits, whilst raising awareness of the value of biodiversity, traditional food production and the impacts of climate change on food systems. Farmers’ and organic markets Similar to the Farmers’ Markets that have sprouted across Scotland since the 1990s, the Peruvian capital of Lima is experiencing a boom in bioferias and ecomercados (15 in 2016), revealing a demand for healthy and natural products outside traditional markets and supermarkets. These new spaces allow people to buy local and ethical produce, and exchange information on their health, environmental and social qualities. The rapid growth of bioferias, however, raises doubts about product authenticity, as demand is now outstripping the supply from local organic producers. The Slow Food Movement Scotland and Peru have exceptional biodiversity and abundant food resources, fuelling exports (Scottish Government, 2016; INEI, 2016). Yet, their populations suffer from dietary problems. In Scotland, about 65% of adults over 16 are overweight, including 28% who are obese (Scottish Government, 2015); and 24% of patients admitted to hospital are malnourished. In Peru, despite significant advances in public health, overweight, malnutrition and anaemia are dangerously intertwined, especially among low-income women and young children. One factor contributing to the increasing numbers of overweight people is the rising consumption of processed foods, high in sugar, fat and salt. In reaction to this phenomenon, civil society groups including ‘Slow Food’ and ‘Slow Fish’ are celebrating old and wild plant and animal varieties, as well as traditional ways of producing and eating. By promoting culinary heritage through positive messages and social events around ‘Good, Clean, Fair’ food, ‘Slow Food Scotland’ and Peru support more sustainable food systems. In 2015, both nations launched their Youth Networks, who discussed with international peers at Milan EXPO how
they will ‘Feed the Planet’ in the coming decades – a result of increasing population and the environmental consequences of climate change. Solidarity and development through fair trade Since 2013, Scotland is a ‘Fair Trade Nation’ where Scottish Parliament, Government, local authorities and other public bodies endorse fair trade in public procurement. This complements business initiatives like Equal Exchange and Just Trading Scotland, who visit ethical producers abroad before importing their foods on fair and transparent terms. In Peru, responsible companies and cooperatives ensure sound environmental practices and work conditions, helping employees improve their standard of living. For example, in the Brazil-nut sector, two local companies led by women are Candela (supplying The Body Shop) and Shiwi. Along with 50 other Peruvian businesses, they are on CanopyBridge, an online platform where consumers can directly buy sustainable forest products from around the world. But will such initiatives be at risk from the changing climate? Ultimately, these initiatives are territorially rooted because they recognise the importance of local knowledge and decision making to ensure democratic oversight of the food system. They are outward-looking and able to maintain direct links with allies around the world using social media and the internet. Sustainable food projects rely on efforts from farmers, businesses, consumers and policymakers, showing that all actors can play a part in building a better food system. Pragmatic and supportive solutions to human rights violations and the global food crisis in the face of climate change are the only way for the infinite wealth of nutritious foodstuffs to durably benefit humanity. - Oriane Brunet, Geography and Spanish Graduate, University of Glasgow, Project Manager, Shiwi Peru
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Ewan Rawcliffe ©
SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT Climate change and sustainable development are currently at the forefront of the global agenda, following the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Unsurprisingly, one of these highlights the fact that establishing robust water resource management is vital for countries to be able to develop and implement effective strategies for sustainable development. A theme echoed throughout the SDG framework is to work towards a world ‘where no-one is left behind’. The challenges associated with water are intrinsically linked to other climate change issues such as poverty, hunger, health, ecosystem integrity and gender inequality. To deliver effective water resource management, nations must engage not just across different sectors, but also across borders. The establishment of a water-related SDG provides a framework for interstate management and commitment towards tackling the global water crisis. The uneven geographical distribution of water resources is leading to the increasing relevance of cooperation among states. In order to combat water resource management, ‘top-down’ procedures must be enforced by ‘bottom-up’ grass-roots organisations, and to ensure resources are managed in a sustainable way, indigenous knowledge must be taken into account along with place-
specific strategies. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach cannot effectively combat the diverse water issues across different regions of the world. The UN estimates that around 1.2 billion people live in areas of physical water scarcity and a further 500 million people are on the verge. Poor governance, misrule, weak institutions and a lack of necessary infrastructure are systemic problems which many developing countries face, particularly in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. In order to address these issues, governments must ensure accountability, predictability and transparency. Donors must work together collaboratively with state governments and have a sound understanding of the political economy at all three levels of decision making: district, national and international. Moreover, law has a ‘transformational role’ to play in the context of global water management; it takes policy decisions and converts them into more tangible and enforceable rights. Legal frameworks must be inclusive and prevent significant gaps between stated policy and the actual practices being implemented. Scotland is taking a lead in sustainably developing the nation’s water resources. In 2010, the Scottish Government announced its intention to develop Scotland as the world’s first ‘Hydro Nation’, built upon the
vision of Scotland managing its water environment to the best advantage. The development of a policy agenda which focuses on the importance of water as a natural asset that has both monetary and non-monetary value is a unique step within the Scottish Government. Developing Scotland as a Hydro Nation sets challenges of promoting the sustainable use of water resources, whilst also changing social outlooks towards understanding the value of water to the Scottish economy. As a young person in Scotland working in the water resource management industry, the challenge in Scotland is to continue this innovative approach towards sustainably developing water resources, whilst ensuring all stakeholders are taken into account. Focus needs to be aimed at encouraging international cooperation between countries and implementing essential and placespecific management structures. The most disastrous effects of climate change will be felt by the poorest people. These communities must not ‘be left behind’ due to poverty and politics.
- Zoe Cuthbert, Policy and Engagement Intern, Water Aid UK
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AN INTERVIEW WITH E Boat International Media©
Emily spoke to Jess McCrone from the Young Geographer Editorial Team about her views on environmental sustainability and climate change.
Why did you become interested in environmental sustainability? I have always had a love for the outdoors from a young age. You would always find me outdoors exploring the environment or sailing. However, at age 21 my eyes were really opened during my time on Earthrace (a boat which runs on 100% biofuel) where we saw rubbish floating in the ocean from land, beaches covered in plastic instead of sand, locals no longer able to catch their own fish due to commercial overfishing, and dead fish and birds with stomachs full of plastic. The significant volumes of plastic and other harmful pollutants were surprising throughout the journey as it is something we do not often see in the media. This provoked my interest in environmental sustainability. Why do you think it’s important to engage in climate change action? Climate change affects everyone and everything. Although my work focuses on waste reduction and environmental sustainability, rather than specifically climate change, all these issues are interconnected. To engage people with the idea of helping mitigate climate change, it is important to promote a sustainable environment. On a planet with finite resources, it is important we look after these resources by being environmentally friendly, not increasing waste, to reduce, amongst others, pollutants such as CO2 (carbon dioxide). I have seen the direct impacts of waste on Pacific Islands where locals cannot grow food due to infertile agricultural land. Increasing levels of CO2 in the ocean are destroying coral reefs and biodiversity. I feel such issues are often not being recognised as they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for people on land. Better awareness and understanding of our oceans is needed if we are to mitigate climate change.
Do you think young people need to be involved more in climate change policy? YES! We are the next generation, the future leaders and those who have to deal with the consequences of our forefathers. I was disappointed with the Brexit result. The fact that the majority of people under the age of 50 voted to ‘remain’ gives a clear message that young people need to have more of an influence in deciding their own future.
Earthrace, a boat running on 100% biofuel to test and prove the feasibility of renewable fuels and the need for sustainable living, broke the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe in 2008, taking just 60 days! Emily Penn©
When we talk about the consequences of climate change, do you think there is a need for more in-depth studies looking at and understanding our oceans? Oceans are often overlooked when statistics and facts are presented about climate change. However, at COP21 the influence of climate change on oceans, and vice versa, featured more on the agenda. This recognition of the inextricable relationship between climate change and oceans means we are heading in the right direction. With increasing technology and media, this will help spread awareness of how climate change is affecting our oceans, thereby promoting the need for more scientific research to fully understand oceanic and climatic processes.
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EMILY PENN How do you think projects like ‘Exploring Mindset’ will promote change in the way people think about environmental sustainability? These projects show people how to take action in their own lives and create an impact by allowing them to look at the bigger picture. ‘Exploring Mindset’ allows people to understand what we can do to become change-makers based on our own skill set. If everyone did one little thing to help the environment, eventually we will change the world. How is climate change affecting the unseen, remote parts of the world you’ve travelled to on your ‘eXXpedition’ project? Most notably, sea level rise has significantly affected the Pacific Islands. It is a common misperception that sea level rise is only classed as ‘severe’ when islands begin to disappear. Yet, a rise of a few inches can significantly impact fresh water supplies, becoming brackish, forcing island inhabitants to capture rainwater as a source of freshwater. However, the Pacific Islands do not have the ’plastic’ resources to capture large volumes of rainwater. Moreover, sea level rise affects agricultural land making it salty and therefore crop yields are failing. Two of the most important resources – food and freshwater – are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. The increasing vulnerability of Pacific Islands inhabitants means even a small storm could destroy their livelihoods, finite resources and ultimately their island. Over the many years I have visited these islands, I have seen significant changes, for the worse. On islands such as these, everything has a knock-on effect. What are your top tips to live a sustainable life? 1. Eliminate the use of ‘single use’ plastic in your lives, eg straws and water bottles that are not reusable. 2. Be a conscious consumer. Think about where products come from and the impact their journeys had on the environment. It is important to be mindful of the impacts of our actions. Do we need it? Can we do without it? Perhaps create a sharing economy, eg share a lawnmower with your neighbour. Ultimately, buy consciously, locally and products that are sustainable. 3. Re-evaluate your carbon footprint. Think about your daily travel and consumer habits, and how you can help outweigh the size of your footprint, if you can’t reduce it.
4. Think about what you can do for the environment. We all have something that makes us brilliant; find out how to use that in a positive away to help create change. As an environmentalist, what would you like to see as the outcome of future COPs? I would like to see more radical action. Although change is going in the right direction, it needs to be faster. We need a more ambitious timeline, better targets, more enthusiasm and a conscious effort. We need a shift in mindset: lead an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. As a global population, we have the opportunity to work together to assert significant change to climate change: the biggest challenge the human race has ever faced. We need to establish a global change in mindset and action.
Emily Penn is a skipper, ocean advocate and artist dedicated to studying environmental challenges in the most remote parts of the world. Emily is the youngest and only female recipient of Yachtmaster of the Year award, presented after travelling the world on the record-breaking biofuelled boat, Earthrace. The ‘eXXpedition’ project is a series of allwomen voyages to make the unseen seen, from the toxic in our bodies to the toxic in our seas. In August 2017, there is an opportunity to join Sea Dragon on a leg of a circumnavigation of Britain. This will be part of the series of all-women eXXpedition voyages. Find out more about this on the website (eXXpedition.com). To follow Emily’s expeditions and keep up-to-date with her latest news, you can follow her at @emilypenn on Twitter or on her website: emilypenn.co.uk
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time for action
Karl Hsu PhotographyÂŠ
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FAIRTRADE FOR THE RE AL VICTIMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE It is likely we have all witnessed the effects of climate change; the flooding in the UK over Christmas 2015 is just one example of the impact it is having in our little corner of the world. But sadly, it is those living thousands of miles away, in already vulnerable communities, who are increasingly at risk. The World Bank estimates the effects of climate change will put an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030 - more than the entire population of the UK and Canada combined. The unpredictable fluctuations in both temperature and rainfall have already destroyed harvests in parts of the world. Farmers in developing countries like Kenya and those in the Caribbean need to adapt, or it is predicted that production of basic commodities like coffee, sugar and tea will disappear along with the livelihoods of farmers. Unfortunately, in developing countries without proper infrastructure and agricultural funding, adaptation can prove impossible for individual farmers. But what does this all mean and what can we do about it? 2015 was the year of action for climate change; world leaders came together at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to agree a universal, binding agreement to keep global warming below 2ËšC, and the new UN Sustainable Development Goals were published, which amongst other things aim to promote sustainable agriculture, guarantee sustainable water management and combat climate change. These political decisions can seem a million miles away from everyday life. However, there is a way that we can make small changes to our daily lives which will dramatically impact the lives of vulnerable farmers, and that is Fairtrade. Many of us know that Fairtrade stands for fair pay for farmers and producers around the world. But it does so much more than that. Fairtrade works with the farmers to assess the risk to their livelihoods, and identify opportunities for the adaptation of practices and techniques whilst promoting a sustainable future-proof form of agriculture. Fairtrade producers agree to ethical and environmentally conscious practices including the banning of harmful pesticides and ensuring responsible disposal of waste. In Latin America, coffee leaf rust disease has spread through coffee farms in the region, devastating between 30% and 90% of coffee producersâ€™ crops. The outbreak of this disease is attributed to climate change as higher temperatures allow the fungus to grow at higher climates, where coffee is produced. Now, Fairtrade farmers are receiving education and support from local experts on
how to best protect their crops from coffee leaf rust along with methods to increase individual plantsâ€™ resilience to the rapidly changing conditions in the region. Farmers are also receiving training on how to make their own organic fertilizers and installing solar driers to avoid the coffee getting wet from unpredictable rain patterns. This is just one example of how Fairtrade is supporting and empowering farmers in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua to bounce back from the impact of climate change. Fairtrade is a way for us, as consumers, as individuals, to support farmers and producers who are facing the impacts of climate change at the front line, and make a difference not only to their daily lives but also to the world that we share with them. If you do just one thing differently today, let it be switching to Fairtrade.
- Jo Cooke, charity worker supporting children to go to school in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nepal
"Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course."
- Ban Ki-moon
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YOUNG PEOPLE WANT SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION Transport is a fundamental function of our everyday lives and transcends all scales from the local to global (both physically and virtually). As a geographer, it has facilitated exploration and discovery for centuries from horseback, ships, planes…with the prospect of commercial space travel potentially within our young geographers’ lifetimes! News reports in the winter of 2015-16 reported flooded towns and villages in the Lake District (England) all the way up to Ballater, Aberdeenshire (Scotland). This extreme weather highlights the need for a transport infrastructure that can prove some resiliency to a vast array of weather conditions and also facilitate emergency response when people are in need, to help sustain these affected communities. This brings me to question the sustainability of our transport infrastructure. Car sales are at their highest (2.63 million in 2015), with the average UK commute being 60 minutes. Our cities have some of the highest traffic congestion rates in Europe. The economic, social and environmental implications of this are extensive, such as decreased quality of life from long journey times, health risk and pollution from car emissions, and reduction in economic activity – the list goes on. These are all aspects that affect young people every day and will continue to do so into the future unless there is change. There is a glimmer of hope with Goodwin’s theory of ‘Peak Car’ – that we have reached a saturation point in our collective car usage. It is in fact the changing social trends amongst young people that are making a significant impact. Firstly, more young people are attending higher education, as well as living in urban areas. The need for a car has become a low priority due to high ownership costs and local councils making car access more difficult and prohibitive in urban areas with parking and congestion charges. Secondly, young people are increasingly using online technologies, such as social media and internet apps, to facilitate journeys which would previously have been made physically – for example, Facebook is used to socialise, Amazon is used for online shopping. Apps with real-time information on public transport services (eg bus times, cancellations, service alterations) as well as Smart Cards eliminating the need for spare change for travel fares are making public transport easier and more convenient. Additionally, the controversial mobility
application ‘Uber’, now operating in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, is an attractive alternative to the traditional taxi due to its lower fares and users’ ability to earn money by offering lifts to people making the same journey. The common ground here is a reduction in the use of cars for private use and the technological shift towards ondemand services. Young people are becoming accustomed to this and are expectant of transport companies to deliver on-demand levels of service too. These communicative technologies show we all need to think carefully about how we plan our transport systems for our needs in the future. If I could influence a change to the situation, I would encourage people to alter their travel behaviour and encourage more investment into sustainable transport technologies and campaigns making public transport, cycling, or car sharing more attractive. A positive step forward is that all planning applications for new businesses in Scotland must include a travel plan, to enable employees to travel sustainably as part of their work, eg car sharing and teleconferencing (Transport Scotland). I think a great example of a city that has tackled this head-on is Paris. The city has a system for when air pollution levels are too high: they ban cars with even or odd numbered registration plates on alternating days. These schemes – including a total ban on cars in city centres – are being adopted by many European cities such as Oslo, Milan, Dublin, Madrid, Brussels and Paris. Young people want to travel and want to do so in a sustainable matter. Of course, there is no one solution to this issue. However, there are many possibilities and opportunities to facilitate sustainable travel throughout the UK. I believe a strong, conscious effort in the investment of transport technology needs to be made in order to achieve significant behaviour changes to achieve a sustainable transport system.
- Tom Bisset, Graduate Transport Planner
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GROWING UP WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AND COP I remember where I was the last time a major UNFCCC COP came around. I was sitting in an American dorm room, thousands of miles away from home, just 18 years old, and so inspired by COP15 and the ‘Hopenhagan’ campaign. I was a global citizen witnessing a global shift! For me, climate change was obvious to everyone. An Inconvenient Truth was mandatory school viewing, and this was the meeting at which global leaders would match policy to fact. But the Copenhagen COP didn’t quite work out how anyone had planned: instead of the binding agreement my perceived worldwide ‘we’ had hoped for, there was a half-hearted promise. An acknowledgement that humans were causing climate change and that something needed to be done, but nothing stringent enough to enforce real, global, action. I knew I was upset, deflated and disappointed, but I was not sure why it had failed, or where ‘we’ went from there. Fast forward six years, a tourist’s pilgrimage to the UN headquarters in New York City, a degree in Sustainable Development and an IPCC AR5 later, and I was 24 and ready for Paris’s COP21. My worldwide ‘we’ were facing greater environmental challenges than we were six years before. We were aware that avoiding climate change is impossible, and we were more able to recognise its impact (particularly in terms of extreme weather events). Language had shifted towards mitigation and adaptation strategies, with a target of restricting
temperature increase to 2°C of change rather than denying the warming trend. But our physical climate, and our awareness of it, was not the only thing that had changed. Politically, the climate for COP21 was somewhat altered. There seemed to be an aura of internationalism – essential for climate change issues uncontained by artificial, man-made borders. A global superpower leader, at the end of a final term in office, was willing to take the risks that were once conservatively impossible. The social climate too was much changed, with global equality higher on the agenda than it had been before. The expansion from eight Millennium Development Goals to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (and 169 targets) demonstrated our widened understanding of the drivers of poverty, the role of human rights, and the far-reaching impacts of our unrelenting unsustainable growth. Within such changing climates, there are more opportunities for young people to participate, at different political and cultural levels, fuelled by the media storm of an international gathering, and a generation of teaching on sustainability. Six years before, I had signed a petition and hoped for the best. In 2015 I joined the 2050 Climate Group, which empowers young people to drive a social movement towards a lower carbon society. Alongside the negotiations in Paris, there was a citywide arts festival on climate, entitled ‘ArtCOP21’: but closer to home I supported ArtCOP Scotland, prompting a nation-wide artistic response outside of France. Again at COP21, I was aware that I was not ‘in the room’. I
was not a delegate, a presenter, a translator or serving the teas and coffees. Yet I was closer than I once was. The annual COPs inspire me to participate, to engage, to consider the choices of Scotland and the UK at an international level, and what I would do if I were in the debating chamber. I’m not a global leader (yet!), but I know now that leadership doesn’t exist at a single point in time or space. The Paris COP was the result of year-round meetings and activity across the globe, which will not cease to exist after the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The climate has again changed since COP21. The swing in Europe towards a more insular, right-wing nationalism might indicate the undoing of the collaborative international intent seen in Paris. Recent political events have forced me to question my own identity, my alignment with those who aim to represent me, and my agency as an individual: perhaps even more underlining the need for civil participation. I want those representing me at future COPs to work on a timeline that thinks beyond such annual lurches, and to recognise the unbounded, unequal and unpredictable impacts of climate change that need addressed. I’ve always known a world with climate change: I haven’t always known a world with consensus on the issue, and COP21 appeared to be a turning point for positive change. The UN COPs and I are past our tumultuous teenage years: now it’s time we both grow up and take action for good.
- Catriona Patterson, Environment Officer for Festivals Edinburgh and Creative Carbon Scotland
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PARIS CLIMATE TALKS: A SUCCESS? The conclusion of the Paris Climate talks in December 2015 brought the world together in one vision in aiming to help reduce global emissions. Ed Miliband, former Climate and Energy Secretary, claimed that the talks created “a moment of optimism about the world’s ability to come together for our common humanity and future generations.” This was certainly the case as two hundred countries signed the agreement, including America, with Obama stating that employers, governments and American citizens will work hard together to ensure that these targets are met. These targets are: to keep climate conditions below two degrees; to ensure temperatures do not exceed 1.5˚C caused by anthropogenic reasons; emissions to peak ‘as soon as possible’; £65 billion allocated each year to help less developing countries invest in green technology; countries will meet every five years to talk about the progress each country is making. To an extent, Britain can be seen as a country at the forefront of climate negotiations. Amber Rudd, ex-Energy Secretary, has faith we can meet the summit targets as the government is opening a new nuclear power plant in Hinckley. Furthermore, the government announced the closure of the remaining open coal-powered plants. This is undoubtedly the right step as coal-powered power stations are responsible for producing the greatest amount of carbon into the atmosphere. The advancement in nuclear technology, especially in the nuclear fusion field, could help reduce emissions and end reliance on fossil fuels. Nonetheless, I am disappointed that renewable energy was not prioritised instead, as recent government policy has moved away from renewables, demonstrated in the cuts made. This is worrying as it signals we will not be able to meet the summit’s targets and encourages people to move away from using renewable energies – this will not help save the environment. Since devolution Scotland has been a key player on the world stage, investing money into renewable energy such as offshore wind energy. Although more needs to be done, investing more money into renewable energy will not only be beneficial for the
environment and communities all over the country, but it will also create jobs in research and maintenance. For me, the Paris Summit achieved a substantial amount, as £65 million will be invested into developing countries globally, which will encourage them to invest in green energy instead of oil and gas power, which is starting to grow rapidly in these regions. The historic Paris summit was followed in late 2016 by the Marrakech summit. However, this was overshadowed by the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. Trump is a climate change denier with ties to oil and gas companies, and campaigned on a promise to reopen coal-powered stations in the US. Trump’s election could strike a significant blow to the international agreements reached in Paris. Despite being overshadowed by other geopolitical events, Marrakech had some significant outcomes, including giving a strong voice to smaller countries, including 47 who committed to getting all of their energy from renewable sources. Marrakech also acted to reinforce the agreements made in Paris and underlined the importance of international cooperation. We need to put pressure on our government to ensure that they keep working toward tackling climate change. Our world is at a critical point. Continuing to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will have a drastic effect on communities around the world, from rising sea levels impacting islands such as Mauritius to drought and increased storminess from warmer waters. For this to work, we must ensure that the review process is done in unity; only when we work together can any real difference be made. Scrutiny must take place to ensure the two hundred countries meet their targets. If the review process is done efficiently, it is more likely the summit will succeed. Ultimately, only time can tell if these talks have been a success. I hope they have as our world depends on it. - Stuart Murphy, Geopolitics Undergraduate, University of Dundee
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A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE DRIVEN BY YOUNG PEOPLE Of all the challenges today's young people are facing for their future, climate change must surely be the biggest and most universal one. In May 2016, atmospheric CO2 measured at over 400ppm at the Antarctic for the first time in four million years.
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) saw 195 of the world's leaders agreeing to peak our carbon emissions before 2030 and reduce them to zero by 2050. But the shift away from carbon-fuelled energy will have farreaching effects on our homes, our transport, our industry and hopefully our outlook on life. We need to reduce the impacts on our environment caused by simply going about our daily lives. That will mean a much greater reliance on renewable energy sources, greener transport options, more thought about where our food is coming from, and thinking much more about the harmful effects of the products we use (microbeads in cleansers, for example). But it's not just going to be about our actions as individuals.
COP21 gave us cause for optimism, but most western leaders still seem to have a 'business-as-usual' approach to environmental issues. For them it seems climate change is too intangible, gradual and politically-conflicting to sufficiently act upon. We need to recognise and accept that climate change exists, it’s real and it's happening to us! While we as individuals must focus on mitigation, we must also have an influence in the political sphere so as to instigate real change. So a part of living more sustainable lives must be about how we can influence policy. As geographers, we have a fundamental insight into the currently unsustainable relationship between humanity and the planet that is our home, and can understand the way we are tipping our world into the Anthropocene. But we must not lose our sense of optimism. We need to use our insight and our concern as a powerful democratic tool to focus our leaders on adopting adequate and tangible solutions.
- Peter Littlewood, Director of the Young People’s Trust for the Environment (YTPE)
- Yamini Cinamon Nair, YPTE Young Trustee
" We should learn more about ourselves before dedicating ourselves to a certain sector and get tied down; we should try as many different types of jobs as possible in order to experience and understand different sectors of society. By challenging ourselves and changing ourselves for the better, we change those around us for the better, change the communities we are in for the better and, therefore, change the world for the better." - Hong Tai Chan
The Future We Want | 29
After over 30 years of argument, it's now generally agreed by the vast majority of scientists that climate change is real, that we are causing it by burning fossil fuels, and that it will affect us all. Climate change has started to bite, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record globally occurring since 2001, the hottest yet being 2015!
THE YOUNG GEOGRAPHERS PROJECT The world in which young people live now is very different from the one in which previous generations grew up. There are many different pressures, and whilst there are arguably more opportunities, many benefits which previous generations perhaps took for granted are no longer available. Things such as styles and methods of communication, attitudes to the workplace, education, globalisation, politics and demographics have all changed enormously over the last few decades, and seem to be changing ever more quickly. Concepts like ‘jobs for life’, ‘final salary pensions’ and ‘job security’ are already unavailable to many in work. Even getting started in employment can be a real challenge. Younger people also face being burdened with debt through studying, in a way previous generations weren’t. And housing and certain other needs and traditional life milestones are increasingly out of reach. In terms of experiences, opportunities and expectations, there has probably never been as great a gap between the generations as we are witnessing now. Added to all this, there are a number of serious long-term global issues they are inheriting which have the potential to make their lives more uncertain and challenging still. And yet, although it is their futures which will be most affected by these matters, they have limited opportunity to directly influence change. This magazine is a small attempt to rectify that.
them to decide what issues they most wanted to focus on and how they wanted to deliver the project, and we enabled them to edit, design and produce this magazine in its entirety. This team sought articles from a wide array of people ranging in age from 12 to 25 years old. Our job at RSGS was simply to facilitate giving them a voice, by encouraging and training them where necessary to refine and develop the articles, and by utilising our networks to help amplify their voices. The fact they elected to focus on climate change is perhaps no surprise – it remains arguably the most significant issue of current generations. They have a right to be concerned as it is their future even more than it is ours. And their generation is also relying on many of us to make strategic and structural changes; after all, it will be some time before they are likely to be in a position to substantially command the necessary action. So it is only fair that we listen to their views and consider their perspective and, I hope, accelerate our actions to solve this problem in order to reassure them about their future. With the Paris Climate Agreement being approved in November 2016, and the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Delivery Plan, new Climate Act, and a variety of related Bills intended for 2017, this magazine is a timely reminder of why we need to see action.
With the help of Young Scot, we drew together a small team of talented and interested young people. We asked
Mike Robinson, Chief Executive, RSGS
”Give young people a greater voice. They are the future and they are much wiser than we give them credit for.” - Desmond Tutu The Future We Want | 30
Eilidh Cameron ©
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE • Support the work of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (rsgs.org), an educational charity that promotes a better understanding of the natural environment and human societies and how they interact. Join as a member, or follow them on social media. • Read, learn and talk about climate change. Study Geography at school or university to get a better understanding of how people are having an impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. • Get involved with Young Scot (young.scot). • Find ways of measuring and reducing your own carbon footprint. Ask your local authority councillor, MSP or MP what they are doing for climate change, and encourage them to do more. • Consider climate change in decision making at work, and remind others of why we need to act.
• Get involved with the 2050 Climate Group (2050.scot); their Young Leaders Development Programme aims to develop climate awareness and leadership skills in the next generation of Scottish public, private and third sector professionals. • Take action on climate change in your local community. Apply to the Climate Challenge Fund for money to organise local events or projects to tackle climate change. Join the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network to facilitate and support community action on climate change. • Follow Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (www. stopclimatechaos.org) on social media. • Watch documentary films like Before the Flood or Chasing Ice or The 11th Hour or An Inconvenient Truth. Share them with others and encourage them to do something positive.
RSGS: a better way to see the world” We run 100 inspiring talks a year, produce a quarterly magazine packed with intelligent informative articles, produce a scientific journal, host exhibitions, and help initiate and input to current policy. Our network extends across all sectors of Scottish society and education, connecting with an international community of geographical organisations, and gathering and promoting the latest thinking from a wide range of academics and experts from all over the world to solve modern problems and promote global leadership.
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The Future We Want | 31
THE YOUNG GEOGRAPHER
“The UN COPs and I are past our tumultuous teenage years: now it’s time we both grow up and take action for good.” - Catriona Patterson
“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality” - Malala Yousafzai
The Future We Want
Published on Feb 1, 2017
The Young Geographer: The Future We Want is a magazine written and edited by a team of under 30s. The Magazine is an extra edition to the RS...