The tricky job of hammering out a climate wishlist
The first World Youth Sustainability concluded in Berlin recently. It brought together over 150 young people from 31 countries who met policymakers and experts to talk about how their dream of a more sustainable, equitable world could be realized. Two young participants, Anne-Sophie Risse and Teresa Thalmaier, describe their experiences at the tightly-packed summit.
Anne-Sophie Risse, youthinkgreen-Team Osnabrück:
Friday, May 17 – Day seven of our first World Youth Sustainability Summit. Off to an early start – my alarm rings at 6 a.m. It’s not so unusual really since I get up at that hour anyway during a normal school week. But yesterday was a long day. We spent the whole day at the Pariser Platz in central Berlin for our Tree of Hope project. It’s made of trash and has pages bearing the wishes, demands, hopes and requests from us and from other people addressed to lawmakers, governments and people around the world.
Now, early Friday morning, it’s our job to hand over the Tree of Hope to German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier. We – that is 160 young people from 31 countries – arrive at the ministry at 8 a.m. We’d come together in Berlin to draft a document expressing what we want to policymakers, business and society. Our meeting with Altmaier lasts just 15 minutes.
In order to get a solid understanding of some of the issues that made it into the document, we’ve been listening to daily talks by various experts on climate change and other topics. Today, it’s the turn of renowned climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. We head to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to hear him speak. He’s very competent and understanding and begins his talk by saying “I’ll wake you up when something important comes up!” In addition to several interesting facts on climate change, I take away this impression from the talk – if there’s an acute, common problem then even nations that are sworn enemies can manage to work together.
I wonder if things have to go that far. With that thought, we head to the next workshop “Climate change – an intergenerational problem.” Carl-Friedrich Schleußner is the expert in this case and says that people need to live in such a way so that life for successive generations is at least just as good. It’s a topic you can discuss forever. So that the day doesn’t end on too theoretical a note, we’re shown videos by the “ClimateMediaFactory.org” – the world as a user of a network dubbed “Earthbook.” The videos were really well done.
Teresa Thalmaier, youthinkgreen-Team Windhoek:
After absorbing so many new impressions, faces, fascinating lectures and different cultures, we headed to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
“If you thought the last few days were grueling, then you’d better get prepared for something really tough today. But that’s what you’ll take home with you, something you can be proud of.” That’s how Helmut Spiering, the project founder of youthinkgreen, welcomed us.
Another two long hours to go before lunch. Initially, we sat in groups of maximum ten young people and racked our brains – what do we actually want? What needs to change? How can we shape our world in a more sustainable manner? How can you achieve that aim?
It sounds easier than it is. How do you formulate things that are politically correct and still compelling? But we weren’t the only ones struggling with the problem. After another discussion in a smaller circle, further groups were created. Now four larger with 40 members each worked on their wish lists. Exhausted, we dragged ourselves off to lunch to recharge our batteries. We all really needed it!
But the tough part was still to come. We were asked to discuss the four wish lists from all the groups and to combine then. We – 160 young people from 31 countries – sat excitedly in a large conference room. There were so many different cultures and languages represented. But all that wasn’t meant to hinder us.
The most difficult part often was formulating the document. Often, our statements weren’t concrete enough, at times superfluous – though there were really good ideas behind them. We gained a deep insight into how a parliament works, how politics is done on an international stage. At the end, we had our final document. It’s unbelievable what we achieved in the last weeks and I’m happy to be a part of the youthinkgreen family!
DateMay 21, 2013
North pole changes places
Climate change has many impacts on the planet, and researchers recently discovered another striking one: North Pole is moving. It’s not the ice masses in the Arctic, but acually the Northern pole of the earth’s magnetic field.
With help of satellite measurements, scientists figured out that the pole is shifting about 20 centimeters per year towards Greenland. Position of the magnetic field’s poles is determined by mass distribution around the planet. This mass distribution changes due to climate change: Accelerated melting of the poles account for 90 per cent of the movement, the study concludes.
You wonder about the remaining 10 per cent? Well, you might not have known yet (so did we) that the pole is constantly moving as earth’s mass distribution changes anyway seasonally/continuously by snow- or rainfall or continental drift. The movement due to melting ice sheets adds up on this trend. For scientists, this is more than just a “nice-to-know”-fact: the satellite measurements can help climate researchers to tell, where ice is lost and in consequence provide more detail to predict climate change impacts.
DateMay 20, 2013
Coral collapse considered evitable
Normally, we mostly present you animals threatened by climate change – but this time, we have some good news for you: Researchers recently found out that there is a way corals might actually survive the multiple threats of humanity. We actually give these small creatures a very hard live: pollution, overfishing and last but not least climate change. The latter influences the reefs by ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures.
For a long time it was thought that those cnidaria folks won’t cope with those impact. But the new study gives a glimpse of hope: If we manage to lower CO2 emission under the current level and stop overfishing, then all reefs with more than 20 per cent coral cover will survive. That’s the only chance, the researchers figured out.
For their work they took into account models for climate change, ecosystem dynamics, and carbonate processes. That way they could show that fish colonies are crucial for corals to survive, as they eat away straggling algae on the reefs resulting in more space for corals to grow.
DateMay 19, 2013
Tagsclimate change, coral reefs, corals, global warming, ocean acification, ocean warming, overfishing
Eat (more) insects!
Ever wondered what you could do to fight climate change, but never came up with a proper solution? A quiet common way is to switch to a vegetarian diet, as meat production accounts for about 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. If you can’t do without your daily portion of proteins (aka meat) – here might be a convenient idea: Eat more insects! This is not a suggestion of some weird person being anxious about animals with too many legs and wants them to go extinct. It’s a seriously meant proposal from the UN to feed the booming population all over the world.
If a simple recommendation is not good enough for you, but you need some convincing numbers- the New Scientist has put them down:
To produce 1 kilogram of beef, for example, you need 10 kg of feed, whereas 1 kg of crickets requires just 1.7 kg. What’s more, 80 per cent of a cricket is edible compared with just 40 per cent of a cow.
In consequence, much less land would be needed to grow food for our food (as insects could even grow on kinds of waste) – we would get more food from the same amount of grain and would thereby cut pollution.
This kind of diet is already familiar in some parts of the world, yet the most consumed are beetles, ants and bees. In total 1,900 insects have been identified to be suitable for human diet.
But for lots of people it is quite unthinkable to take a bite. What’s your opinion: Is the argument of sustainability strong enough to change people’s minds?
DateMay 19, 2013
Jane Goodall: 300 days on the road for the cause
Meeting Jane Goodall, British primatologist and avid environmental activist, is an honour. Global Ideas took the opportunity to talk with the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees during a film screening in Brussels. The documentary Love MEATender focuses on earth’s growing hunger for more meat and the price we already have to pay for the excessive consumption.
A lot of people are already aware of the situation we are in, Goodall says. But that does not automaticly change something:
One of today’s main problems is that earth’s population is growing fast and with it the number of people who want to consume meat, Goodall adds. As the middle classes in the developing world are rising up, they want to have the same standards of living as the industrialized countries have. “Which is of course understandable.” But the planet is not growing, so it won’t be able to support this lifestyle much longer.
For Jan Goodall the newest generations are the key to a solution. Her organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, runs an initiative called “Roots and Shoots program,” with the goal to “provide young people with the knowledge, tools and inspiration to improve the environment and the quality of life for people and animals,” as the program’s website says. “We need to train a new generation to be better stewards than we have been,” she adds. Otherwise there would be absolutly no point:
DateMay 18, 2013
Tagsactivism, chimpanzee, environment, environmentalist, global ideas, growth, hunger, jan goodall, jane goodall institute, knowledge, meat, organization, population, vegan, vegetarian