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The reality of the Climate Crisis The current climate crisis is the biggest emergency any of us will ever face. Soon enough it will impact every area of our lives. The planet’s average temperature has risen roughly 1.18 degrees celsius since the late 19th century and extreme weather events are becoming much more frequent. Many scientists argue that this damage is irreversible. Although the reality of the situation is upsetting it is necessary to acknowledge the facts if we have any hope of preventing future damage. Regardless it is not unusual to feel hopeless because of the situation. You can read about feelings of powerlessness on page 6. It is undeniable that over the last year the COVID-19 pandemic has distracted us all from the climate crisis. Government’s across the globe have turned their attention from rising sea levels and melting ice caps to attempting to keep coronavirus under control. However for many the increased time we’ve spent outdoors in nature has in fact increased our worry for the planet. Nature has become something of a comfort for many of us during these unprecedented times, and as such the concerns over what damage is being done to our environment has become an even greater concern. You can read more about how lockdown has impacted our view on climate change on page 4. Our generation is leading the way in trying to persuade governments across the globe to take a more serious stance on climate change and sometimes the people that are leading this fight face backlash and unfair treatment. You can read about the admirable Greta Thunberg on page 16. Of course protesting is not the only way to help fight climate change. Every day we can all make small changes that will help. Along with the brave voices attempting to change government policy there are also countless people making changes in their day to day life in an attempt to help save our planet. Whether this be changing to a plant based diet or walking and cycling more, small changes can be a big help. You can read more about the small changes that we should all make to lower our carbon footprint on page 9 and about the brands attempting to change the trend towards climate change on page 8. Climate change is a real threat to life as we know it and the articles you are about to read do not gloss over that fact. We hope this issue of Wessex Scene both informs you of the impacts of climate change and inspires you to help fight the biggest issue our planet will ever face. Your Deputy Editor, MACEY MCDERMOTT Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this magazine belong to each author alone - Wessex Scene is a neutral publication which aims to publish views from across the student body. To respond with an opposing opinion, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Opinion Writers’ Group.
N EW S & I NVESTIGA TI O N S
FRONT COVER IMAGE BY EDWARD OLDFIELD Brodie Brown
FEATURES 04 ECO-AWAKENING: HOW LOCKDOWN HAS IMPACTED MY VIEW ON THE PLANET 06 POWERLESS IN THE FACE OF THE FUTURE
LIFESTYLE DO BRANDS HELP TO COMBAT 08 THE CLIMATE CRISIS? SMALL LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO 09 LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY ONE SMALL CHANGE: REALISTIC 10 WAYS TO EMBRACE SUSTAINABLE FASHION
POLITICS 12 HOW VIABLE ARE THE GREEN PARTY AS AN ELECTORAL FORCE? 14 FIRE AND FLOOD: SECURITY IN AN AGE OF CLIMATE BREAKDOWN
OPINION WHY THE GRETAPHOBIA? 16 IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION REALLY 18 THAT SUSTAINABLE?
HAS THE PANDEMIC PLASTIC 20 PROBLEM SET US BACK?
23 EUROPEAN SKYLINES: A LESSON FOR THE WORLD IN SUSTAINABILITY 24 HOW TO EXPERIENCE WANDERLUST WHILST LOOKING AFTER THE WORLD
SPORT 30 INTERNATIONAL SPORTS: HOW TO REDUCE THE IMPACT ON THE PLANET
WESSEX S CENE. CO . UK @ WE S S E XS CE NE WESSEX SCENE
SCIENCE & TECH COULD CLIMATE CHANGE BE 27 BEHIND THE EMERGENCE OF NEW EPIDEMICS? HOW REWILDING COULD HELP 28 BRITAIN’S FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
PAUSE SAVE THE TURTLES. DRINK LIKE A GROWN UP
FISH PLEASE! SAVE THE CLIMATE! STOP MAKING OCEANS SAD!
CLI-MATES: INTRODUCING THE NEW DATING APP FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
F B . C OM / W S C E N E @OF F IC IAL W E S S E X S C E N E 3
ECO-AWAKENING: HOW LOCKDOWN HAS IMPACTED MY VIEW ON THE PLANET
or many, being forced to stay inside during the pandemic and remain within their local area for longer than ever before has led to a so-called ‘eco wake-up-call’ they are inclined to alter their lifestyles to be more environmentally conscious. They have undergone a sort of awakening, and I’m much the same. During the first lockdown in spring 2020, I was able to see leaves on the trees and flowers everywhere during my daily walks. I would work outside in the sunshine with the surrounding birdsong, and it opened my eyes 4
to how much I appreciate the natural world and how devastating it would be if it were ruined forever because of human selfishness. On top of this, the lack of news coverage about climate change as a result of the pandemic has only spurred me on to believe that more needs to be done. Whilst coronavirus and its effects are devastating and should definitely be the government’s and the country’s priority right now, the climate crisis should come in at a close second. We don’t have long to rectify the decades of devastation our actions have had on the planet, and people just don’t seem to get it. CLIMATE CHANGE
It was because of these factors that, in the autumn, I decided to commit to an (almost) vegetarian diet – something I’d always laughed off as being just a bit too virtuous and treehugging for me before. It’s been going great. It’s reduced my spending as well as my fat intake, and so many of the veggie options are actually delicious. Most importantly, I now feel like I’m doing my bit to combat climate change. Meat production is one of the most damaging industries to the planet, with every kilogram of beef using 15,415 litres of water to produce, and each cow releasing between 70 and 120 kg of toxic methane into the atmosphere every year. Furthermore, it is predicted that if our current meat consumption continues, by 2050, animal agriculture will be responsible for at least twothirds of the world’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGHs). While I’m not advocating for everyone to suddenly convert to a plant-based lifestyle and start eating 70% broccoli, cutting down meat consumption or switching to meat substitutes will significantly reduce a person’s ecological impact and carbon footprint. And it’s not as hard as you think it’s going to be. Trust me – I love steak, but I manage not to miss it. I don’t think I would have decided to change my lifestyle like this without lockdown to push me towards it. Nowadays, I’m conscious of every piece of single-use plastic I use, every mile I drive in a car, and every time I leave the lights on. Although this brings with it a certain amount of uncomfortable guilt, I think it’s improved my outlook on how I live and my relationship with nature (not to sound like a complete hippy). By being so aware of how grateful I am for the natural world while being stuck inside all the time with Miss Rona, I’m more eager than ever to protect it.
skies across the world clear of pollutants for the first time in years; it was one of the biggest sources of relief in what was then a climate of utter terror. The hope that the pandemic could mitigate our destruction of the planet helped me through that time, but it was short-lived... Research conducted at the end of last year revealed that despite the brief lapse in emissions, air quality in 80% of the UK’s cities has since risen to be the same or worse than prelockdown levels. Researchers state that despite lockdown restrictions, this rise in pollutants is attributed to increased use of private cars rather than public transport. This concerns me deeply. Whilst it is understandable that public transport is currently essentially a Petri dish for the virus to spread, it saddens me that we have gone back to harming the environment while the pandemic harms us. The bitter winter weather hasn’t helped – it may not be as easy to appreciate nature when it’s drizzly and freezing, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable and in need of protection. The words of inspirational climate change activist Greta Thunberg perfectly encapsulate the kind of awakening humanity needs to continuously and collectively push for: ‘Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe.’ WORDS BY KATIE BYNG-HALL IMAGE BY SOPHIE WILLIAMS
During the spring, there was a glimmer of hope as both regional and global travel virtually halted at the height of international fear about the virus, with emissions in each country decreasing by 26% on average at the peak in April. This respite, although very fleeting, saw
POWERLESS IN THE FACE OF THE FUTURE
ometimes it feels like the things that are greater than us are so overwhelmingly large that it is impossible to not feel powerless. This is especially the case with the wellbeing of the planet, with climate change a sure and steady rollercoaster towards oblivion. It is very hard not to have a negative mindset towards the future. Every day we can see the effect that we have on the planet, and it’s not good. Outside my window is essentially a one-way street, with cars 6
littering both curb sides. Even this one street can house over 100 cars, and if you use that to estimate the amount of vehicles that are on British roads, we’re in dangerous territory. It was found in April 2020 that the number of cars in the UK has surpassed 40 million. Most of these vehicles run on fossil fuels which pollute the planet, from their extraction to the use itself. And we’re only one small island country. It would be implausible to say that everyone should give up their motorised vehicles to protect the planet. CLIMATE CHANGE
Even if one person stopped driving and took the bus, it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference. The amount that we need to cut our pollution by is on a scale far beyond what one person can even imagine. And this is just cars! It is so difficult to not feel powerless when the things that are destructive are so integrated into society.
‘I won’t see the outcome of climate change, but you may, and your children will. You get companies like Amazon proudly going on about being carbon neutral by 2040, but it shows that business isn’t taking this seriously. That’s not a challenge and the CEO will have retired to his island long before then. The ego and the power over other people that comes with wealth.’
The recycling initiative in Southampton isn’t all that effective either. The household bin accepts paper waste, tin cans and drink bottles, but has a long and often unknown list of items that can’t be recycled. What makes matters worse is that when an unrecyclable object is amongst recyclable materials, they end up not being able to reuse the good stuff. Since what we as individuals seem to be able to do for the environment from home is limited anyway, the reality of how useful our contributions are is quite unsettling.
These feelings are prevalent regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. The basic philosophical worry about the end of everything is not specific to one group, and only becomes further highlighted when compared to the state of the planet. Perhaps these feelings would not be as bleakly expressed were I to ask someone worth billions of detrimental dollars. But I would suppose that after that interview, when the night gets dark and they’re alone, they may cry out, for ultimately they too feel powerless.
Local and global governments need to do better than what they are currently offering. It is not the responsibility of the everyday person to lobby and protest so that everyone’s livelihoods can be secured for the future. However, it’s also not the effect of ‘normal’ people’s lives that are the most hazardous. Sure, having an incredibly large global population will naturally increase the demand and stretch of resources, but most global pollution is caused by a very small minority who willingly sacrifice the planet for the sake of profit. Profit which in turn will eventually become meaningless. This feeling is shared by lots of people. It is often something that comes up in conversation, followed by an inward and tense silence, only to be swept away with a change in topic. That’s an acceptable response for a student conversation in the kitchen at 3am, but it’s not okay for those who are actually in positions where they can do something about the issue to continually sweep it under the carpet.
It is important that we strive to do everything that we can to combat the climate issue, but it is very demoralising that we are essentially powerless against what may come. It’s a scary thing to have to imagine in your head that the comfortableness of our lives is contributing, essentially, to the end. It’s hard not to feel bleak about it. Does anything we do really make a difference? Honestly? Probably not. We’re living on borrowed time, and we’ve all been removing sand from the hourglass no matter how hard we try.
WORDS BY EMILY DENNIS IMAGE BY MIKAS EIDUKAS
Just asking three people their opinions shows the unanimity to this feeling: ‘I think the world is screwed anyways, it’s too late in the game. Not enough will happen in the time we have to make a difference because there’s too much backtracking, disbelief and failures. We should still try and make a difference, but at this point the difference is delaying the inevitable.’ ‘I feel like I’m trapped under an iceberg’.
DO BRANDS HELP TO COMBAT THE CLIMATE CRISIS? Sustainability is also a major trend within fashion at the moment. For example, Prada recently introduced their ‘Re-Nylon’ scheme, where they use ‘ECONYL’ to make their range of bags. These materials are made out of recycled plastic collected from landfills and the ocean. Prada noted how their ‘ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021.’ Furthermore, the SS20 line-up included a plethora of sustainability, including the launch of Stella McCartney’s faux fur coat, with ‘75% of the materials being classed as ecofriendly by the brand.’
ccording to the UN, ‘climate change is the defining crisis of our time and it is happening even more quickly than we feared.’ This is something that can be avoided. Therefore, we may ask, how much are brands helping to combat the climate crisis? The G7 Fashion Pact was created to stall the impacts of climate change caused by the fashion industry. The Pact has three goals that set out their aims, ‘stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans.’ With brands including Chanel and Stella McCartney having signed this Pact, it is clear that these brands have made a commitment to help the planet. Not only are a range of luxury brands a part of this Pact, but also more affordable brands, including H&M and Nike. The founders of the Pact have stated, ‘The Fashion Pact is still at the beginning of its impact’, creating hope for what else they have to offer in the future. However, people such as Orsola de Castro have been sceptical: ‘If this [Pact] was made up of brands that had never made strides towards sustainability, then this would be something worth celebrating. But the fact that many of the brands, like Kering and Stella McCartney have been vocal about their environmental goals for years means that this is nothing new.’ Although it is a step in the right direction, it won’t truly be able to make an impact until more brands make a commitment to help combat the climate crisis. 8
In 2019, LVMH, the owner of houses such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, donated $11 million in order to help combat the Amazon Forest wildfires occurring at the time. Board member Yann Arthus-Bertrand stated, ‘Protecting the environment is not just about words and speeches or signing declarations of principle, it also requires taking concrete collective actions when dangers arise in order to provide resources for local specialists and work together to save our planet.’ This is important as it shows the brands commitment to protecting the environment, rather than giving false promises. The question of natural beauty combating the climate crisis is also raised a lot. Although the name has links to being environmentally friendly, experts are debunking this, and raising criticisms of the industry. Whilst some of the ingredients used are bio-degradable, they are not entirely sustainable as such, making people question how beneficial they are. Also, the presence of ingredients from the oceans, such as seaweed, within face care products is leading to the destruction of the ocean’s surface. Within LVMH’s Climate Week in December 2020, the group noted how ‘The climate crisis thus becomes a challenge that the fashion industry must take up to inspire innovation.’ Although brands are evidently making more of an effort to combat the climate crisis, it must be ensured that this is not purely a trend, and something that is maintained for the long run, in order to save our planet. WORDS BY BRODIE BROWN IMAGE BY FRANCES ROSE CLIMATE CHANGE
SMALL LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY
hilst it can be demoralising to think that anything we do in the face of climate change will have a minimal impact on the global crisis, there are loads of lifestyle changes to be made – big and small – which will have a real influence on your personal impact on the planet, and may improve your wellbeing too! 1. Try a flexitarian, vegetarian or plant-based diet
Reducing intake of animal products has multiple benefits on the planet. The production of meat and dairy accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – a huge amount – so not engaging with this is your way of refusing to contribute to the wider problem. Eating less meat also generally leads to a lower-calorie diet, reducing the risk of ailments such as heart disease. 2. Use a reusable cup In the UK, we use approximately 7 million takeaway coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion a year – of which only 0.25% are recycled. By investing in a reusable cup for your daily coffee, you’re significantly reducing your daily waste. 3. Wash your clothes with eco laundry bags Every time we wash our clothes, microfibres from our garments are released into the water system. In fact, microfibres from our clothes comprise an estimated 35% of all microplastics in the ocean. To avoid contributing to this, invest in some reusable mesh washing bags, which block 99% of microfibres leaving your washing machine while still allowing detergent in.
halfway across the world – most products you could want can be produced in the UK, and buying them from here can also support small businesses. 8. Order surplus food Every year, restaurants throw away around £682 million worth of food – about 199,100 tonnes. However, there are various companies through which you can purchase this perfectly good food before it’s wasted. 9. Use green cleaning products Typical cleaning products often contain chemicals which are harmful for the environment. Eco-friendly alternatives have fewer chemicals which do not cause water or air pollution, and are often sold in reused or recyclable packaging. Because of the lack of hazardous chemicals, they also pose fewer health risks to users. 10. Turn your heating down Central heating is one of the biggest origins of household emissions, and it is often overused. If your house is cold, put on more layers, use blankets, or fill up hot water bottles before turning on your radiators.
4. Use energy-saving lightbulbs Energy-saving lightbulbs last up to 12 times longer than ordinary lightbulbs, yet emit the same amount of light. They use significantly less electricity than standard bulbs, thus reducing your household carbon footprint. Additionally, remember to turn off any unnecessary lights to save energy and money. 5. Walk and cycle more This is a pretty obvious one, but by making more journeys on foot or by bike rather than driving unnecessarily will reduce the amount of toxic carbon dioxide your travel adds to the atmosphere. 6. Plant shrubs which bees like Bees – the most important insects on our planet – are under serious threat. We need them to pollinate our plants and maintain life on Earth. We can help them out by including plants in our gardens or window-boxes which they particularly like, such as lavender, rosemary, bluebells and crocuses. 7. Buy products from Britain Buying local will significantly reduce your carbon footprint as what you consume won’t need to be shipped
WORDS BY KATIE BYNG-HALL IMAGE BY ELLIE JOHNSTON 9
ONE SMALL CHANGE: REALISTIC WAYS TO EMBRACE SUSTAINABLE FASHION 2. Invest in a mini sewing kit Walk into any supermarket and you’ll find sewing kits in the Household Essentials aisle. With hundreds of beginner sewing tutorials online, making that blouse last an extra few years takes a matter of minutes. For bigger issues, commission a seamstress (many promote their services on Facebook) or even sell on eBay, simply specify any faults and someone will likely still buy your item to upcycle. 3. Get creative In 2020 TikTok proved you don’t need to be Vivienne Westwood to make your own clothes. So, remember that getting rid of an item you no longer love isn’t the only option. If you aren’t naturally creative, don’t let this intimidate you! There are loads of tutorials that can help you upcycle your clothes and this could be as simple as dyeing some blue jeans black. 4. Only buy new when absolutely necessary
WORDS BY ABBY WOODMAN IMAGE BY FREEPIK.COM
nce defined by quarterly seasons, the fashion industry has been revolutionised by fast fashion over the past 30 years. Since 2000, the clothes we buy has doubled to over 2 million tons per year in the UK, largely due to retailers pushing weekly trends, making it impossible to keep up. These clothes have made fashion the world’s second most polluting industry. They are mass-produced using poor quality synthetic fabrics, shipped globally, and 57% end up in landfill within 12 months of purchase, taking up to 450 years to biodegrade. In efforts to tackle this mounting problem sustainable fashion has become a trend. But with unattainable heights set by influencers promoting changing every aspect of your life, and environmental organisations arguing that the impact of fashion cannot be reduced until fast fashion companies are no longer the default, how can we actually embrace slow fashion and if we do, will this truly reduce the impact of the fashion industry on our planet? 1. Organise your wardrobe Familiarising yourself again with clothes you already own might stop you from buying more. You’ll also likely find evidence of the fast-moving trends that control our buying habits. Try to donate or sell the items you no longer want – you might even make a bit of money on something you would have otherwise thrown away. 10
When shopping, ask, ‘if this wasn’t a trend, would I still like it?’ If yes, great, but also remember that trends are cyclical. Take a quick look in second-hand stores and you’ll likely find something similar for a fraction of the price. Many charity shops also sell online too – one good thing to come out of lockdown! Please remember that buying new cannot and should not be avoided entirely. To reduce your impact though, look to sustainable brands or try the app ‘Good On You’ for help finding alternatives to your favourite shops. 5. Sustainable slogans do not equal sustainability Since sustainability has become a trend, doing your own research is possibly the most important thing to remember. Check labels for organic and recycled fibres. Look for statements of water reduction also, particularly on cotton, as this is proof that the item has been made with sustainable materials. I would also recommend further research on the industry as a whole. Some useful resources are the documentary ‘Slowing Down Fast Fashion’, TheCommonObjective.org, ‘The Pre-Loved Podcast with Emily Stochl’, and ‘Overdressed’, a book by a reformed shopaholic. Sustainable fashion doesn’t need to be the intimidating movement it seems. Consumers drive demand, so while your small changes may not seem like much, by embracing slow fashion we can force change and make a real impact on the health of our planet.
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HOW VIABLE ARE THE GREEN PARTY AS AN ELECTORAL FORCE?
he Green Party of England and Wales, often abbreviated to ‘the Green Party’ and established in 1990, is a UK political party which champions environmentalism combined with left-wing economics and progressive social policies. You’ve probably heard of them. In a magazine about climate change, the Greens are at the forefront of those politically committed to tackling the issues facing the environment today. But how viable are they as an electoral force? Fundamentally, the Green Party’s deal is mostly all about the environment. Specifically, ‘to end the system that keeps hurting the environment and all of us who rely on it – and to build a better alternative.’ The 12
Green political programme is based on ten pillars which elected Greens will strive to implement. These are: • • • • • • • • • •
Save the environment Green our land Protect animal life Challenge privilege End discrimination Champion international friendships Liberate our working lives Unleash our creative power Embed collective kindness in our society Deliver quality of life for all
Sounds good so far, but they need to be elected to do those things, and they don’t have a good history of being able to do that. The Green Party has only ever had one member elected to the House of Commons. Caroline Lucas, party leader 2008-2012 and 2016-2018, was elected as the representative for Brighton Pavilion in 2010 and has kept her seat in successive elections, increasing her majority each time. However, this is just one Parliamentary seat out of 650. The Green Party is unlikely to ever see great numbers of MPs without substantial electoral reform. In the 2019 general election, the Green Party received 865,707 votes, or 2.7% of the vote. By comparison, the Social Democratic & Labour Party gained 2 seats with 118,737 votes (0.4%) and Plaid Cymru gained 4 members with 153,265 votes (0.5%). By contrast, the SNP elected 48 MPs with only 3.9% of the vote. With the First Past the Post electoral system in place, it isn’t enough for the Greens to consistently come in at second or third. Green representation is similarly poor in the House of Lords, which hosts two Green Party peers out of 803 sitting members. So who is voting for the Greens? 18-24 year olds are the most concerned about the environment by far, and yet this demographic more commonly votes for the Labour Party by far, especially since 2017. 18-24 year olds are actually more likely to vote Conservative than Green. Problematically, 18–24-year-olds also have the lowest voting turnout of any demographic. Beyond the 18-24 year olds, interest in both the Green Party and the environment is significantly lower, and things get increasingly worse with older age groups. This therefore leaves the Greens dependent on the youth vote. The Green’s over-reliance on one demographic means that their voters are spread thinly throughout the country, more likely to vote for other parties, and less likely to vote in the first place. This is before other flaws in FPTP come in to play, such as tactical voting and a reluctance to waste votes on a party that probably won’t win anyway. So, what can they do to address this?
other parties in a constituency, and they have only achieved this in one place so far. Ideally, they would be able to widen their voter demographics or localise support in particular regions, thus meaning that their voters would not be so thinly distributed, allowing them to win a majority in more constituencies. It also does not help their cause that, for all intents and purposes, the Greens come across as a onepolicy party. Their focus on the environment is commendable, but obviously limits them to an existence more as a protest group than as a serious candidate for government. In the same vein, the image which emerges of die-hard ‘tree hugger’ environmentalists as the traditional voter base of the Greens would be off-putting to many moderate voters. While many people may be sympathetic to their cause, people vote over issues that affect them, and the environment is rarely the top priority in that scenario. While the Green Party do have policies over the economy and social reform, it isn’t what they are known for by a long stretch. Moreover, many moderates with environmental sympathies may simply be appeased if one of the larger parties, who actually expect to win an election, makes a few vague pledges to protect the environment. This seems to be working out pretty well for the Labour Party, who have completely monopolised the Green’s youth voters. This is not a party that is winning elections and they won’t do anytime soon. In that regard, they are not viable electorally. But that doesn’t make them pointless. Diversity in political representation is key to democracy, and I for one am very interested to see how the Green Party will look in the future.
WORDS BY REBECCA WILLIAMS IMAGE BY FRANCES ROSE
Without electoral reform, there’s not much that would fix their disadvantage. Having a large voter base is only useful if you can reach a majority over WESSEX SCENE
FIRE AND FLOOD: SECURITY IN AN AGE OF CLIMATE BREAKDOWN T
he Sahel is a region of land that stretches across the continent of Africa. Around three million square kilometres in size, it stretches from Senegal in the West to Sudan in the East, and is the transitional zone between the climate of the Sahara Desert (to its North) and that of the savannah (on its South side). It is also Ground Zero for Climate Change. A scientific consensus has emerged in recent years that an increase in industrial pollution has changed the pattern of surface temperature found across the Atlantic Ocean. Through changing rates of evaporation, this has altered the meteorological balance of the Tropical region of Africa in recent decades, and lead to a decline in rainfall around 1970-1980. Peaks and troughs in precipitation over time are regular features of the region’s climate, but the subsequent increase has not matched the amount that fell in the 1960s. Desertification, caused in part by this drying phenomenon and the fact that climate change is warming the land faster than other parts of the Earth’s surface, has inevitably put pressure on food and water supplies. Some 37 million people in the region have severe food insecurity, with 6.3 million of those requiring emergency food aid. The result of this has been profound, and has contributed to a major crisis in which multiple extremist Non-State Armed Groups have thrived. Fighting local governments, on occasion Western or UN peacekeeping forces and even each other whenever the opportunity arises, these groups have troubling implications for a world in which further climate breakdown is expected. The reckoning of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees puts the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the region (the number of people forced from their homes, but not out of their country) at 2,020,768. The number of refugees and asylum seekers (those who have fled their country) is 868,694. This tally, however, does not account for South Sudan, also in the Sahel, reeling from a 14
bitter civil war. Large movements of people create significant tensions, as the UK found out in 2016, and this is a pattern we can expect to see repeated. We can expect this because climate change doesn’t just mean expanding deserts and heating land - it means receding ice and rising seas. Sea levels rising means land being inundated. Land slipping beneath the waves means the people who once occupied that land will be displaced, deprived of their homes. And, as we have found to a great deal of cost in Afghanistan, those who are deprived of their homes can be prime targets of radicalisation; the Taliban drew their name, personnel, and ideology from the students (literally ‘students’ in Arabic) who attended the Madrassas set up in Afghan refugee camps, using funds from radical donors in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which taught an extreme and militant ideology cherry-picked from Islam. Nor is terrorism the only threat that climate breakdown may intensify. As the arctic ice recedes, a great swathe of land becomes more accessible - one with both physical and maritime borders with the United States, Canada and Russia, and is subject to the interests of China, Japan, France, Germany and the UK. This creates yet another zone in which the interests of great powers can bump up against each other more often, adding to a list that includes the South China Sea, Syria, the Baltic and Barents Seas, and Eastern Europe. Wildfires in California killed 31 people last year, destroying 9,000-10,000 buildings in a recordsetting year for these fires. Many of those buildings were homes. The visiting of such destruction upon the livelihoods of so many people breeds anger, as shown by the protesters that met then-Senator Kamala Harris and Governor Chris Newsom upon visiting the town of Big Creek, half of which was destroyed by one of the largest fires in California’s history. These wildfires were caused by extremely high temperatures and extreme dryness, both of which are exacerbated by climate change. CLIMATE CHANGE
WORDS BY SAM PEARSON IMAGE BY MIKAS EIDUKAS Higher temperatures don’t just come with dryer weather. Paradoxically, it can also mean more moisture in the air. The fact that our planet is 71% water means that higher temperatures lead to more evaporation of sea water. Rising water vapour creates clouds and thereby storms, storms that will increase in power and frequency as global temperatures rise. This represents a clear and present danger to societies and economies that lie in the areas of highest risk from hurricanes and typhoons, the ultimate products of this process, but also threatens places long thought stable. In the UK, the Thames Barrier protects London from high tides and storm surges. Although recent preliminary analysis places the end of the Barrier’s operating life between 2060-2070, we can expect the environmental situation to change significantly WESSEX SCENE
between now and then - decarbonising by 2030 will not stop climate change from occurring, but will limit it to the extent that it is reversible. If the Barrier were to fail in conditions of extreme stress, a storm surge in combination with a spring high tide, for instance, 45 square miles of Greater London would be flooded, putting schools, hospitals, offices, and potentially the government itself out of action, and rendering the London Underground inoperable. It is one thing to face an intensifying threat year in year out. The apocalypse in your back yard is quite another. So, whether through fire or flood, one thing is certain - climate change means a more dangerous world. What we do about that is a question that must be answered.
WHY THE GRETAPHOBIA Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
he world is dying. At this point, it’s not something up for debate. For years we’ve poisoned our planet, taking its resources for granted and the only legacy of the older generations will be that they’re the ones who could have a made a difference but decided not to. Even when we have climate activists like Greta Thunberg, a girl who has spoken out against the state of the planet, it’s not given birth to conversations of change but instead a world of people in power who just like to talk about how much they hate Greta. Celebrities like Jeremy Clarkson, Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins have all publicly attacked the young activist for different reasons. Is their Gretaphobia a mere symptom of their ignorance and guilt? Greta Thunberg has always had an uneasy presence within recent talks of climate change, most likely because of her unabashed assertion that those responsible for the current crisis are the current generation of adults. With the spotlight on her and the youth of the world agreeing with her cause, she exposed the villain: the adults of the world. The ones who have seen the ice caps melt at an unprecedented rate, the ones who have recorded a rise in CO₂ emissions and other greenhouse gasses, the ones who have watched temperatures on the planet reach new recorded highs, and have done very little to combat it. She has brought the attention on them, raising them on a platform to be held responsible, and no one really likes being told they messed up. It’s the truth. The signs of our dying planet have long been present in science but there’s always been a backhanded approach of dealing with it later. Now though, young people like Greta have pointed out we’re entering a dangerous point in time where change happening later WESSEX SCENE
down the line may be too late. The youths of the world are not the ones currently making political decisions, signing climate agreements or running large industrial corporations who pump tonnes upon tonnes of pollution into our atmosphere. Instead, the ones doing these things are the current adults of the world, and therefore they need to be accountable. Yet, being accountable for potentially killing the world is a tough pill to swallow. Protecting your pride and thinking your generation is being attacked by a girl who according to Jeremy Clarkson, doesn’t know what she talks about. It’s easier to dismiss Greta, to tell her to go back to school and learn science than to admit your generation has made a potentially extinctioncausing mistake. If you admit that Greta is right, then you also admit your ignorance and we all know how hard it is for people to admit they made a mistake. No, instead they favour an easier approach. Attack the girl who talked sense. Bury their guilt. Take solace in the fact they’ll be deceased by the time the planet destroys humanity and live in the bliss of ignorance. Although, we see through all this bravado. Our generation already holds the older generations accountable and the supposed Gretaphobia is nothing more than people protecting their egos and hiding the simple fact they’re guilty. It’s easier to brainwash people with fame and power, rather than publicly admitting a young adult who has lived less than a third of your life knows more about climate change than you do. WORDS BY SAM PEGG IMAGE BY SIMON JOHNSON
IS SUSTAINABLE FASHION REALLY THAT SUSTAINABLE? Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
n the past couple of years, the troubling nature of fast fashion has entered everyone’s minds. With overconsumption of cheap products at an all-time high, people are demanding more sustainable practices within the fashion industry, both in terms of labour and the environment. In response, a wide range of sustainable clothing ranges and brands have popped up, promising ethical treatment of workers and small carbon footprints. But are these sustainable fashion ranges really that different from the fast fashion we’re used to seeing stocked on the shelves of the high street? In the hands of ecocapitalism, sustainable fashion has become reduced to a buzzword with little to no real meaning. At the core of this problem lies the fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of fast fashion. Fast fashion is not just SHEIN, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo. The concept has been reduced to referring to internet chains that produce high fashion replicas within a day’s notice and sell bikinis for 5p on sale. While it is certainly true that these chains are a huge part of the problem, they’re far from the only culprits. A higher price tag does not equate to sustainability, yet brands like Zara and Monki have been falsely labelled as sustainable or slow fashion simply because they set their prices higher and sometimes offer unique designs. The concept of a small business has also often been made synonymous with a sustainable business, even though many startups use fabrics and materials produced via near-slave labour just like the fashion giants. Many small businesses may be better in one way or another, but better does not mean good, and in the impending 18
doom of the climate crisis we cannot afford to make assumptions about the sustainability of our future. Right now, sustainability sells and most large corporations participate in greenwashing to some extent. The term was coined by Jay Westerveld back in the 1980s, and it should now more than ever be at the centre of our environmental concerns. Greenwashing occurs when a company or organisation markets itself as environmentally friendly without following through on their promises. It is a marketing ploy used to mislead customers into continuing their dangerous overconsumption while easing their minds and eradicating guilt. Greenwashing is made easily accessible to corporations due to vague laws surrounding the language they use. Terms like conscious, eco-friendly, negative impact and sustainable are not regulated and they have very little legal meaning, which means that they are often branded on clothing and products that are in actuality still very damaging to our environment. For example, H&M offers a ‘Conscious’ range, and proudly displays recycling boxes in their stores. If you drop off old clothing in the recycling bins, you receive a discount on new items from the stores. At first glance, that sounds great, but not only does this encourage customers to continue over-consuming H&M’s ethically dubious clothing, but moreover, only approximately 35% of the clothing collected in said boxes is actually recycled. Garments made out of recycled plastics still require literal tonnes of water and carbon dioxide. Even clothes produced by recycled plastic will continually shed micro-plastics that damage the environment, and will likely eventually end up in a landfill with the rest of our briefly used items. Even the most sustainably produced products in one way or another depend on exploitative labour, and CLIMATE CHANGE
functions on a supply and demand basis where capital ways heavier than consciousness. Such is the very nature of capitalism: in order to stay afloat in an oversaturated market, companies must use marketing ploys that encourage overconsumption. Slow fashion is not the be-all and end-all solution to our environmental concerns. We still produce way more garments than we could ever use, with the Global Fashion Agenda predicting that the volume of apparel produced is likely to increase by 81% by 2030. Sure, that one sustainable top might have consumed x, y and z amounts more of water if produced in a traditional fast fashion factory, but if you purchase ten of them instead of one traditionally
produced top, the effort to shop sustainably makes no attainable difference. At the end of the day, the biggest threat to our environment within the fashion industry is overconsumption. Doing a large haul at Primark once a year is better than ordering a package a month from various small or sustainable businesses, even if that package comes in a recycled mailing bag. If you are able to buy items made from recycled materials, then by all means please do so, as long as you don’t use that as an excuse to ignore overconsumption. We cannot look at sustainable fashion as a solution to fast fashion when the only way to truly develop sustainable shopping habits is to shop less and keep our clothes for longer.
WORDS BY LINNEA LAGERSTEDT IMAGE BY ISABEL JOHNSON
HAS THE PANDEMIC PLASTIC PROBLEM SET US BACK?
WORDS BY EMILY DENNIS IMAGE BY BENJAMIN SMYTH Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
hile the coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed a lot of things that we were used to, it has not always been for the better. While the isolating months have been particularly difficult for some, perhaps one of the most negative effects is that we appear to be becoming more reliant on single-use objects, a destructive attribute that we were close to eradicating from our previous normal.
There has certainly been a large increase in single-use plastic. The pandemic has increased our reliance on products we can just use and throw away, seeking the environmentally detrimental option compared to reusable ones. In one article describing plastic waste during the pandemic, it was found that hospitals in Wuhan, China were using more than 240 tonnes of single-use plastic products during the peak of the pandemic. This is six times the amount they were previously using pre-pandemic. If that increase was continued over into other countries, then the US would use the equivalent of a year’s supply in only two months. It suffices to say that the amount of single-use plastic has increased by a huge amount. While it is understandable that people’s health should be put at the forefront during the pandemic, it seems stupid to increase the irreversible and negative effects we have on the planet. Increasing our plastic production and use is diminishing all the positive environmental work that had previously been accomplished. As microplastics expert Dr Christian Dunn commented in a BBC article:
‘Covid will eventually go away, plastic waste won’t, it’s here forever. While we need to be very conscious of the health implications, we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted.’ It’s also not just the production and use of these plastics that are a problem. Due to their overwhelming numbers and human error, many of these plastics are improperly dealt with. Items that can be recycled are incinerated, or just thrown directly into landfills. Just 1% of improperly disposed single-use face masks accounts for more than ten million items, weighing roughly 35 tonnes. Some of these even end up in bodies of water, producing more problems such as filtration issues, animal hazards, and increased microplastics. Even reusable coffee cups have recently been shunned by chains, stating that they ‘might not be clean’ and ‘could be hazardous to health’. This meant that during the start of the pandemic, single-use coffee cups were the only option available. This might not have been too much of a problem beforehand, but since coffee shops were some of the few available socialising options, quite a lot of bored people found themselves in their doors and with coffee cups in their bins.
Despite this, some have commented on how the pandemic seems to have been beneficial to the environment. You may even remember seeing the comparison of city skylines. One was previously full of smog, whereas the one during the pandemic was clear. Unfortunately, while there were certainly fewer cars on the road, this didn’t necessarily mean it was a good thing. As the demand for oil was so low, the prices dropped. Petrol stations were showing impressively low figures for once. However, because oil was so low to purchase, it became more profitable to just make more plastic products rather than recycling them. Does this mean we’re completely set back? The planet and our sustainable choices have certainly taken a hit from the pandemic. It was not something that had been prepared for, in any case. The prioritisation of human health over the Earth has delayed, or even reversed, many policies that were meant to curb our reliance on hazardous materials. More effort from companies and governments needs to be made. Whether that starts right now or after the pandemic, there needs to be a greater focus on sustainability, even more so than before. If not, we ruin the chances to complete the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 12, ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, directly talks of recycling, including plastics. They claim that by 2050, ‘the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to sustain current lifestyles’. Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’, asks to keep plastic bags out of the ocean to improve marine and coastal biodiversity. It would be quite abysmal if the previous plastic pollution was just replaced with single-use face masks. Goal 3 also talks of vaccinations, but I’m not sure we’re ready to have that conversation. I’m not a scientist, a businessperson or a government official, but I am someone who is able to read the facts and figures and understand the weight of what they are saying. It’s important not to just get overwhelmed by the enormous figures and give up. While we can’t do much ourselves, reducing the request for plastic products will help the situation. I still think about the pre-pandemic days where plastic cotton buds were eradicated from existence. That was exciting! And was one of the first steps towards a sustainable future. It is true that we’ve been set back, but with effective goals and a more conscious existence, this shouldn’t be the end of our environmental journey.
EUROPEAN SKYLINES: A LESSON FOR THE WORLD IN SUSTAINABILITY WORDS BY LAURA PROST IMAGE BY PIERRE BLACHÉ VIA FLICKR
n the past decade, travelling has become a far more affordable, accessible and routine experience. It is desired by many and disregarded by few which has become far clearer as our ability to travel this last year decreased due to the pandemic. Sustainability has increasingly become the centre of innovation for European countries, with the rise of wider cycling lanes, Instagram worthy farmers markets selling exotic fruits, and easy access to bikes and scooters through various apps. The comfort and satisfaction of travellers has never been a higher priority for tourism as it is now. But promoting sustainability isn’t purely a marketing method for the purposes of tourism. It also sets standards for other nations, proving that in the midst of a climate change crisis even the smallest changes can have a compounded impact in the long term. It will not come as a surprise for many Europeans that Zürich is one of the frontrunners in implementing modern sustainable features. As Condé Nast Traveller highlights in their article: ‘10 of the Most Sustainable Cities in the World’, the city makes headlines with their ability to set industrial and business sector parameters with regards to energy usage and waste-reduction. Back in 2014, when I was walking through the streets of Zürich, the city centre had almost completely cut off access to cars, putting small cafés in the centre of attention and hiding solar panels on the roofs, away from public eyes. Sustainable advancement won’t always be reflected through the cutting down of the most influential polluters in the city, instead what Zürich has done is implement more simple and cost effective solutions, such as increasing the amount of vegetation and trees in the most populated areas of the city.
Europe’s success in offering more eco-friendly solutions often comes from cities with lower populations, where it is easier to implement influential changes. But cities like Vienna, Stockholm and Copenhagen do not just aim to set standards with their sustainable innovations but also hope to inspire other nations whose capitals are densely populated and where these changes can have a more influential impact. For example, Estonia has become one of the leading nations in setting standards on how to tackle the climate crisis by implementing smaller changes into cities. Estonian cities have introduced the Tartu Smart Bike Share which allows the public to easily rent electric bikes at low costs, implemented public transport that runs on sustainable fuel, while still providing seasonal activities for the public with low maintenance costs. In Tartu, the city council this winter has placed an ice rink outside the town-hall, creating a ‘winter wonderland’ experience for future travellers. Personally being able to experience these small but environmentally profitable innovations first-hand helps revalidate my belief that Europe is the best place to live in 2021. Besides its world renowned cuisines, variety of languages and timeless history, the continent can now add another title to its vastly growing collection: Europe’s capitals are now some of the leaders of sustainability around the world.
HOW TO EXPERIENCE WANDERLUST WHILST LOOKING AFTER THE WORLD WORDS BY MEGAN GAEN IMAGE BY HANNAH BARNES
Travelling abroad is not considered to be the most eco-friendly practice by any means. Most forms of transport, especially those used for long distance travel, like airplanes or boats, use fossil fuels which are harmful to the environment and to public health. Plus other actions travellers might do at home that cause harm to the environment, like littering and throwing away recyclable materials, could also be continued abroad. These damaging actions affect our planet and therefore all of us. However, travel is important to many people, whether it be for work, leisure or self-discovery. Completely stopping all travel would help the environment but this is hardly realistic. Instead, the jet-setters among us must come up with ways to look after the world, whilst experiencing wanderlust. These are the steps you can take towards becoming a sustainable traveller: Choose Carbon-Free Transport Using modes of transport like bikes, kayaks or walking requires no fossil fuels to function, only your own energy. This means you are simultaneously doing something good for yourself and the environment. They are, however, ways of getting around a destination once you have arrived, especially if your destination is a long-haul flight away.
Offset Carbon Emissions If travel to your chosen destination is via a flight, then there are ways to offset the carbon emissions created. Many airlines allow you to pay a little extra when booking, which is then donated to different types of offset projects. Two examples of these would be forestry projects, where the money is used to plant trees, or energy projects, where the money is invested in renewable energy. Or, if you want to control where your money goes, you could decide to donate to one of the numerous environmental protection agencies or charities. Use a Digital Boarding Pass As most airlines give you the option to checkin at home a day before your flight, you can control what type of boarding pass you get. The most environmentally-friendly option would be to not print it out and waste paper, but instead, download it on your mobile phone. The majority of people have a smartphone and travel with it, so this is a no-brainer. Plus, this means you will have more than one copy - one on your email and the one in your wallet - so no worrying about protecting this one sheet of paper. Bring a Solar-Powered Charger The only downside of having your boarding pass on your phone is if your phone should run out of battery! But the way to solve this issue, and make sure you never run out of battery throughout your journey, is by using a solarpowered charger. This means that even if you are travelling off the beaten track, you can still keep all the batteries of your gadgets topped up and have access to your essential documents, like boarding passes, whenever you need them. You don’t need to be in a bright, sunny place either for the charger to fill up, daylight will work just fine. 25
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle with You Having a reusable bottle with you will stop you from buying plastic bottles of water all the time. Many airports have water fountains throughout their terminals, meaning you can have a full bottle ready for the flight. Coffee shops and hotels also offer free bottle refills in many places. There is a helpful app you can download called ‘Refill’, which shows you the nearest free water refill station on a map, which can be used all over the world. Follow Local Recycling Guidance If you do want to drink something other than water, then you will probably need to purchase a plastic bottle. After you have finished with it, make sure you have disposed of it properly. Many countries have specific bins for different types of recyclable materials or schemes for recycling. For example, in Germany, they have a bottle deposit scheme for glass and plastic bottles. You pay a little bit extra for the bottled drink, but when you return it in store, you are given a voucher with the money back. It is almost like you are renting the bottle, so there is an incentive to return it as you will get your money back. Leave No Trace Travelling is fun and the memories stay with you forever, but just because the experience has had an impact on you, doesn’t mean your impact should be felt in the local environment. Limit your impact as much as possible. Do not litter, do not harm animals, and do not cause damage to the environment. Be an ally to nature and to the area you have visited; show them the respect they deserve. As a common phrase amongst travellers says, ‘take only photos, leave only footprints’. Travel is an important part of life for many people, but the impact it has on the world affects every single person. Minimising our effects on the environment in general and the local communities we visit is essential. To discover all the places the Earth has to offer, we must first be an ally to it and strive to protect it. 26
SCIENCE & TECH
COULD CLIMATE CHANGE BE BEHIND THE EMERGENCE OF NEW EPIDEMICS?
he World Health Organization estimates that approximately 40 new infectious diseases have been discovered since the 1970s. Although most of them emerged due to the natural evolution of microorganisms, human behaviours and practices promote the appearance of new pathogens. The environmental effects of climate change are one of the main causes of the spread of emerging infectious diseases.
new species of microorganisms, plant pathogens are often already present in the environment. However, slight changes in temperature, humidity or nutrients stimulate the reproduction of pathogens, originating in waves of infections. Plant diseases indirectly affect humans. When plant epidemics strike, those populations that mainly rely on cultivation are more exposed to impoverishment and deteriorating sanitary conditions, which in turn are fertile grounds for human diseases.
Microorganisms are sensitive to the smallest alterations around them, rapidly adapting to the new conditions and challenges of their surroundings. Through mechanisms of natural selection, every generation is more resistant to the environment than the previous. As a consequence, organisms that succeed in surviving have better chances of becoming pathogens, especially if they proliferate close to human activities.
Glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting due to heatwaves. What worries scientists are the potential amounts of pathogens embedded in the ice that have been inactive due to freezing temperatures. Anthrax, a bacterium causing multisystem organ failure, has been found in Siberian ice, along with smallpox and hundreds of other pathogens. The major risk, however, comes from those microorganisms that have been quiescent in permafrost for thousands of years and are only now seeing the light again. Microorganisms that have not yet been in contact with humans, so they have not been studied and understood. How many of them could cause the next pandemic?
But how does climate change directly influence the increase of pathogenic microorganisms? Human emissions have led to an increase in temperature globally, causing a shift in weather patterns and producing extreme phenomena, such as the wildfires that plagued Australia, California, and Siberia in 2020. Not only do increases in temperature endanger the wildlife, but they also promote the migration of species. Mosquitos are known to be the vector of Plasmodium, a parasite that causes malaria. Heatwaves around the globe prompted mosquitos to move from the tropics towards areas where malaria was not endemic, producing an increase in patients with the disease. Similarly, West Nile fever is now seen in colder climates due to the rise in temperatures. Although these pathogens are not new to humans per se, they have appeared in countries which were not used to dealing with the disease, causing spikes of infection. Plant diseases are also on the rise. Late and sheath blight, two conditions attacking potatoes and rice cultivars, have decreased the production of the two goods for centuries. Even though they are not nearly as rampant as in the past, late and sheath blight cost the agricultural industry millions of pounds. Xylella fastidiosa, an anaerobic bacterium, attacking a wide range of plants, including grapevines, olives, and peach trees. While human pathogens may arise from WESSEX SCENE
It is apparent how climate change is damaging the environment, both directly and indirectly. If we want to prevent a new COVID-19, we must minimise our contribution to global warming.
WORDS BY NOEMI CASTELLO IMAGE BY NPS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE VIA FLICKR
HOW REWILDING COULD HELP BRITAIN’S FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
ewilding is the process of reinstating or reinvigorating natural processes or species in landscapes and habitats which have been affected by human activity. The ultimate aim of the practice is to restore ecosystems to a level where they can be selfsustaining. This process has been successfully used in Britain for years and is crucial in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Rewilding covers actions as small as planting wildflowers in a window box or installing a pond in your garden, or as big as creating a new area of marshland or replanting an entire forest over thousands of acres. All efforts to promote natural processes are contributing to the rejuvenation of Britain’s flora and fauna. According to Rewilding Britain, the UK’s top rewilding charity, their ultimate vision is to see 5% of Britain engage in rewilding, and this target may not be out of reach... Under the charity’s guidance, at least 300,000 acres of British land – almost the size of Greater Manchester – could be rewilded within the next three years by connecting landowners, farmers, community groups and local authorities to unite in the effort. It is estimated that such changes could prevent up to 70% of predicted extinctions.
A well-known example of rewilding in Britain is the introduction of Eurasian Beavers – a native but now extinct British mammal – to our rivers. This began with the Scottish Beaver Trial in 2009-14, which resulted in two successful beaver populations as well as the rodents becoming a protected species under Scottish law. More recently in 2015-20, a beaver population was introduced in Devon in the River Otter Beaver Trial, the success of the trial resulted in legislation protecting the future of these magnificent animals. Wales are currently considering implementing their own version of the project. Beavers are a ‘keystone species’, meaning they are particularly beneficial to landscapes because the dams they build slow down water flows and create wetlands, in turn giving a home to species including otters, water voles, common frogs & toads, water shrews and insects like dragonflies, as well as providing a natural defence against floods and landslides. Another rewilding success took place at the Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex in 2001. The owner Charles Burrell decided to rewild the 3500-acre estate by replacing dairy cows with Old English Longhorn cattle, Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs and deer. This promoted grazing and vegetation growth, thus allowing diverse plant life to thrive, and providing an environment where rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies could breed. Research led by the University of Sussex has suggested that as well as promoting biodiversity and protecting our wildlife, rewilding could mitigate climate change. Using land as naturally occurring habitats rather than breeding grounds for livestock, most notably cows, would significantly reduce the methane produced by the rearing of agricultural cattle. It also allows more trees to grow, thus increasing absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Dr Chris Sandom, Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University of Sussex, said: ‘The key thing to remember here is that nature is complex and needs to be complex. Trophic rewilding aims to restore nature, including its complexity, and then to allow it to take its own path.’ If that path could lead to a nationwide push against climate change, then I say we commit to walking down it together. WORDS BY KATIE BYNG-HALL IMAGE BY BONNIE MORELAND VIA FLICKR
International Sports: How To Reduce The Impact on The Plan
n a few months time - at least at the time of writing - two major international competitions are set to begin: EURO 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics. These quadrennial tournaments—which both last took place in 2016 and were delayed due to the pandemic—will make for, one would hope, an entertaining summer of sport. It is something that frankly, as a sports fan, I am very much looking forward to. But as the world becomes more attuned to the dangers of excessive travelling and the harm it does to the planet, the exciting summer is a lot less exciting, and significantly more worrying, than it might have been. The consequences of international tournaments on the environment can’t be ignored. Take the UEFA Champions League, for example. 181 fixtures take place throughout the course of a (non-pandemic) Champions League season. 79 teams from 54 30
different countries qualify for the tournament and, assuming one team is always the away team in these games, that means 181 flights across Europe, often by chartered flights, over the course of the 9 month campaign. It goes without saying that this has a significant impact on our planet, with the Jocelyn Timperley’s 2020 article saying that ‘flying is, mile for mile, the most damaging way to travel for the climate’. If 181 short-haul flights (the Champions League only includes teams in Europe) doesn’t seem like much to you, consider the fact that this is one tournament, in one sport, in one of the world’s continents, and this is only in the men’s game. Now consider how many competitions there are. In football alone, there are literally thousands of domestic and international tournaments which are taking place throughout the football year, in CLIMATE CHANGE
Teams will have a base camp where they will stay between matches - Wales, for example, will set up in Azerbaijan as their first fixtures are scheduled to be there, as well as assigning stadia to the groups for the competition - teams in Group D will play in Glasgow and London.
But this doesn’t go far enough. Unfortunately, I disagree with the idea of stretching a tournament across a continent. It is significantly better for the environment and, I imagine, for the players, if a tournament is in one country. The benefit of the Olympics being in one country means that, whilst all of the athletes will fly out to that country, they will at least be there for a period of time and are unlikely to need to make any journeys whilst in the country. This model works: the UEFA Champions League and Europa League tournaments were finished during the summer through more condensed versions in Portugal and Germany respectively. Why this can’t be brought in as a useful way of completing these tournaments in future is beyond me; it makes sense for players’ fitness, and ultimately for the environment if teams spend less time in the sky.
both the men’s and women’s game. The same can be said for rugby. At the time of writing the Six Nations tournament is underway, with Italy and France’s participation in the tournament making it a competition that will require some flights and international travel. The problem was not something I concerned myself with until I read more about the proposals for the 2020 Euros tournament. The event takes place every four years, but normally in just one country (the last instalment took place in 2016 in France, for example). The 2020 tournament was scheduled to take place across 12 nations, from Spain and the UK out in the West to far-flung Russia and Azerbaijan out to the East. With the potential for teams to be flying regularly across the continent, thankfully the organisers UEFA have made some decisions to make it less problematic for the environment.
Another method is to remove some of the more pointless fixtures—perhaps that word is subjective, but for example I disagree with international breaks during the season. Maybe this is not strictly because of the impact on the climate, but removing them— or at least changing how they are done—would be hugely beneficial for the environment. Perhaps having friendly tournaments, rather than sporadic friendly fixtures with teams playing against other random teams from across the world, would not only bring about more competition and potentially excitement within these fixtures, but also mean that you could group various nations together and avoid having lots of flights dotted throughout the season. There is so much value in international tournaments, no doubt about it, and we would be liars if those who are interested in sport don’t feel some sort of patriotism seeing a team or someone from their nation playing in a competition. But, as the world is becoming more and more concerned (rightly) about our damage to the environment, we must also consider how the games we love and take an interest in can be made more sustainable. WORDS BY KAI CHAPPELL IMAGE BY ETHAN THOMAS
SAVE THE TURTLES. DRINK LIKE A GROWN UP
ack when I could still remember the half cleaning product, half God knows what smell of Jesters, I was once at a pre drinks. It was a boring one. It was a Thursday, a fourth night in a row and a horse shoe of tired freshers leant against the kitchen counter. Everyone had bags under their eyes and that look on their face that asked, ‘How did I convince myself this was a good idea?’ There were two exceptions, however. Two girlfriends bounced around, cocktails in hand, each with a metal straw staggering around the perimeter of each glass. They proudly took sips between reminding us of the treacherous environment plastic waste creates for sea creatures. They also discussed how after 150 uses, a metal straw has a lower carbon footprint than its plastic, disposable counterpart.
‘Do you know what has an even lower carbon footprint?’ Everyone thinks. ‘Drinking like a f***ing adult!’ You know, slurping from the rim and becoming reliant on a drug for no other reason than it being socially acceptable. Feeling ill for the next day until being revived by a cold one in the evening and starting cycle over again - grown up stuff. None of this politely sipping from a straw and having drinks that actually taste good and being somewhat civil. Is this a rant? Is this a pause piece? If I’m honest, I don’t know anymore but I do know that once you’ve graduated from needing extra apparatus to get fluid into your mouth without spilling it, you shouldn’t want to go back. A metal straw is at best an attempt to look cute and at worst a virtue signalling piece of eco-consumerism. There is one thing even I will miss with the decline of the plastic straw, I must admit- the noble strawpedo. Nothing speeds the night up like bending a cheap straw round a bottle neck and dumping booze down you as fast as it can fall. As I abandon the strawpedo, a small part of me dies but I know it is for the betterment of the rest of me. Giving Shakespeare himself a run for his money, let me leave you with a poem.
My Ode to the Strawpedo:
I will miss you my Strawpedo Without you where will we go We saw off VKs without delay And filled up on our libidos But now that straw must disappear Bubbles and slurping will soon be here Maybe I’ll get back on the pints And piss myself and get in fights Deadly nights will take much longer Even if vodka is so much stronger How I will miss that synthetic fruity VK Oh wait, without a straw I can still drink it anyway WORDS BY THOMAS COLLYER IMAGE BY SOPHIE WILLIAMS
FISH PLEASE! SAVE THE CLIMATE! STOP MAKING OCEANS SAD! ‘But what can humble me do?’ I assume you ask. You can start by befriending an aquatic buddy. The oceans are full of some uncodly specimens that are literally dying to say something to you. It’s mostly nice things. Befriending fish will make them happier. Happy fish tend to cry less than those who are unhappy. Less crying means less salty oceans, meaning that we can form conclusive data on what is making beach puppies such salty sea dogs. If we can stop fish crying, then global governments will have to accept responsibility for altering the density of 332,519,000 cubic miles of water. Another option is to focus less on the salt and more on the wet. Increasing the pure wetness will lower the salt proportions, ergo making oceans less salty in the process. This method skirts around the whole ‘convincing everyone that something reely reel exists’ which is quite a problematic idea to address.
ceans sure are salty! Is it dissolved excess CO₂ because there is literally too much? Maybe. Is it tears? Are they my tears? The Earth’s? Fishes’? Yes. Cut the carp about not being bothered about the environment. Climate change has battered the entire planet, including our oceans, that are now empty except for desperate emotions. While the effects of global warming are somewhat more obvious on land - including literal coastline villages sweeping away into the vast blue, country-wide fires, and air pollution that needs an epidemic to clear - the oceans and our fishes are not very happy chappies. I guess you could say they really are quite salty about it. Despite this, scientists still apparently haven’t given enough evidence to gather universal support for the reversal of climate change. As human processes and advancement have been the sole cause of climate destruction, it is quite clear why our nautical pals are so weepy - clarity that will not be found in a sample pot of the Atlantic. 1/10 fish admit that they have thought about building an unsustainable energy plant but failed to get planning permission. Compared to the aquatic development plans, humans are pretty unefishent.
Are you not a friendly face? Do you whale at the sight of aquatic mammals oarfish? If you sing to a land-only tuna, then you can still help by saving the climate. While this article is aimed at those who prefer a dingy to a go-kart, there are some options that are practical for both kinds of people. Firstly, stop buying yoghurt. It has come to our attention that yoghurt pots cannot be recycled, and we’re trying to reduce the amount of binnable plastic that we have. You can still have yoghurt, of course. That is a sacrifice we could never ask our readers to make. You can fashion your own eco-friendly yoghurt pots, while getting the churner out at home. Try keeping your yoghurt in anything other than a pot. A recent survey has found that 7/10 fish are big fans of dairy products, but don’t know the most eco-efficient ways of storing their favourite snacks. It incurs no environmental or personal cost to share knowledge. Here at Wessex Scene Ocean Council, we have been taken aback by the support of those opposed to the depleting conditions of our seas. Our latest campaign is focusing on giving the oceans back to those whom it belongs, and together we can do that, one saltless tear at a time.
WORDS BY EMILY DENNIS IMAGE BY FRANCES ROSE
Cli-MATES: INTRODUCING THE NEW DATING APP FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
inder and Bumble have had their moment and aren’t really hitting the spot for love seekers anymore, what with the end of the world and that. But never fear! Dr Happy Feet, expert in lurrrvvv, has just the app for you! Cli-mates will help you to bond with fellow singletons on the hunt for ‘the one’ in the midst of melting icebergs. No longer will you be a polar bear on cracked ice whilst all your mates float away with their significant other. Wessex Scene were fortunate enough to snag an exclusive interview with the founder to give you a little sneak peek of just what you can expect from this totally-not-morbidand-very-inclusive app. Hey Dr Happy Feet, could we start off learning about the algorithm a little bit? How exactly do you match the perfect mates? Ooof now that would be letting you into a cheeky secret, wouldn’t it! I suppose because it’s almost the end of the world... what do I really have to lose? Essentially, Cli-mates doesn’t really have an algorithm. It’s not really the time to be picky with your high standards when the world is falling apart, is it? However, if you’re mainly concerned about icebergs, the three R’s, or whether a penguin like me is going to be preyed upon by a sea lion, there’s the opportunity to plug your qualms in your bio. Does the app use the usual swiping left and right on potential suitors? So, whilst I said there was no algorithm, the app won’t actually show you potentials that are out of your league. I just couldn’t have that on my conscience man, not when the world is ending. This should reduce the amount of potentials you’re swiping left on and give you the ego boost you need. Never fear, we will find you a companion. 34
What’s an example of a bio that would get you all the matches your lovestruck heart desires? Nothing worse than swiping on a fit mammal and not matching. The best bio I’ve seen on the app may or may not be mine. Here’s something to whet your appetite: ‘I may not be able to fly, but I can guarantee I will take you to places you never thought you’d go.’ Hmmm I’m not really sure I have any captivating pictures for my profile. Honestly, there are bigger concerns like, hmm, climate change? Just be daring and take a selfie there and then, you don’t exactly have time to waste. I feel for you though, not everyone is totally radical and able to whip out some pics from their surfing days. How about the dreaded openers? How do users break the ice? Let’s not get cold feet, now is your chance to reel them in! How about, ‘You have 48 hours left on earth. What do you do?’ Appropriate considering the concept of the app, but also leaves some room for their imagination *smirk*. Disclaimer: Dr Happy Feet lacks the real qualifications of a doctor. The title of an expert in love comes purely from his own experiences falling for a penguin out of his league - not the biggest success story, huh?
WORDS BY ALICE MACARTHUR IMAGE BY ETHAN THOMAS
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