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COP27 – Something’s got to change

It’s that time of the year again for the annual COP (Conference of the Parties) climate summit. This time we are in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27. Last year the UK hosted COP26 in Glasgow. The COP process is the political decision-making arm of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) its climate science arm.

The 1.2 degrees Celsius recorded increase in average global temperature; since pre-industrial levels (i.e. 1850s); has had devastating impacts on our planet. Recently, one third of Pakistan was underwater due to major floods, displacing millions of people. An IPCC report published earlier this year stated that 40% of the world’s population are ‘highly vulnerable’ to climate risks.

So have COP meetings made any difference?

Read further to find out more:

Edge Hill University committed to action on climate change

Edge Hill University has joined with Universities UK (UUK) and fellow universities from across the UK to showcase their climate change research as part of a major new campaign backed by actress and environmentalist Lily Cole.

The campaign follows a new poll carried out by Universities UK and Opiniom which has revealed that parents see universities as crucial to delivering on the Department for Education’s sustainability strategy published last week.

Results of the poll show that 64% of parents believe that going to university would equip their child with the skills and knowledge that can help make the world a better place, and 70% think a university degree is essential for those contemplating a career in tackling climate change. And given the opportunity, more than one in three UK adults (37%) would consider higher education as a route to upskilling to realign their career with efforts to combat the climate emergency.

Read further the commitment universities are making to climate action:

Ferns: the houseplants that reveal how tropical rainforests are responding to climate change

Photo by Nikita Tikhomirov on Unsplash

Ferns are at their most diverse and abundant in the world’s tropical rainforests. This warm and humid ecosystem is heaven for these plants, which unfurl their feather-like leaves in the damp and shaded understory. So how did they ever come to colonise British living rooms?

If you have a potted fern at home, your choice of household companion may have something to do with the Victorians. Pteridomania (pterido comes from pteris, the Greek word for fern) seized Britain in the 19th century, as people competed to cultivate ferns at home and in specialised greenhouses.

Only 70 species of fern can be found in the UK wild, but you can buy over 500 species as house or garden plants today. That’s if you fancy the challenge of growing these fussy flora at home, of course. Ferns are notoriously difficult to keep alive. Too much water and the plant’s roots rot. Too little water and the plant starts sucking up air, causing a blockage which kills it.

Their sensitivity to temperature and rain make ferns ideal indicators for environmental conditions. For example, if your fern’s tips go brown then it probably means the air in your house is too dry.

This property also makes ferns very useful for scientists trying to understand how ecosystems are coping with climate change. By studying how these ancient plants have responded to environmental changes in the past, botanists hope to open a window into the future of the world’s tropical forests.

Read further the fascinating world of Ferns:

Walking the Walk: Including Ethnic Minorities in Green Initiatives

Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

As the press has recently highlighted, walking is both an expression as well as a means to develop positive relationships with the outdoors. But is the ‘outdoors’ a flat realm within the Anthropocene? The inequalities of urban inhabitation are widely known and talked about. Since COVID-19 blurred the boundaries of the private and public while extending the urban lives beyond the urban perimeters, those same inequalities were extended and made more visible, too.

Recently formed minority groups that explore the green areas were given a boost by COVID-19. FootstepsNW is one of these initiatives operating in the North West of the UK, working closely with CPRE, the Countryside Charity – Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester

Read the full article:

Sefton Coasts for Kids Shortlisted

Kids running together along the beach in front of words 'beach school' written in the sand

Sefton Coasts for Kids – an initiative to inspire the next generation of learners to protect the world’s coastlines – has been shortlisted for a Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Award.

If you remember back to the Sustainability Festival ‘Together Tuesday’, Irene Delgado-Fernandez did a talk ‘Coasts for Kids – where imagination meets science!‘ highlighting the importance and need to teach our children why coasts are important, how beaches and dunes work, how people affect them, and what can we do about it.

Due to the success of the project, it is in the running for an Impact Award for Environmental Sustainability. It was covered in Educate Today and The Champion. This important also work supports the University’s wider commitment to protecting the environment and becoming more sustainably driven.

Read further the exciting news:

Tread Lightly On The Planet

Tread Lightly on the Planet five performers outside a building in Liverpool
photo credit Luke Waddington

Monday 31st January 4pm
Dora Frankel Ensemble
Tread Lightly On The Planet

Performances will take place in The Hub

Tread Lightly on the Planet is a dance work about the climate emergency and how humans are caught up in it, inspired by some of the painter JMW Turner’s most iconic images. Dance and electronic music, mixed live during the performance, are fused in this work by international choreographer Dora Frankel. With choreography that is rich, raw and punchy, yet filled with lyricism, this is a provocative and beautiful work.

Tread Lightly on the Planet five performers outside
photo credit Luke Waddington
Tread Lightly on the Planet, black and white image of three performers outside

Each performance is 20 minutes long.

Free no booking required

Five Fascinating Insights into the Inner Lives of Plants

Close up a a rain drop on a green leaf

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, Earth’s land surface was barren and devoid of life. It would take another 2 billion years for the first single-celled organisms to appear in the ocean, including the first algae Grypania spiralis, which was about the size of a 50 pence piece.

Plants composed of many cells have only been around for a mere 800 million years. To survive on land, plants had to protect themselves from UV radiation and develop spores and later seeds which allowed them to disperse more widely. These innovations helped plants become one of the most influential lifeforms on Earth. Today, plants are found in every major ecosystem on the planet and scientists describe more than 2,000 new species every year.

Read Sven’s article in ‘the conversation’ which gives a fascinating insight into the world of plants and five discoveries which help us see our distant green cousins in a new light:

Everything’s Gone Green

Like the Edge Hill ducks, when it comes to sustainability, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the Edge Hill campus. This includes reducing its carbon footprint (webbed and unwebbed).

From using energy from renewable sources to ensuring halls of residence have the most efficient insulation systems, from the development of “green” roofs to campus beehives, the University campus is buzzing with ideas promoting sustainable development. And we’re now a hedgehog-friendly campus.

And we don’t intend to stop there. These are projects which are being constantly reviewed, recycled and upcycled.

View of the Catalyst and Creative Edge buildings

We know the campus is very green, thanks to the dedicated ground staff. But a green mentality is also being cultivated. Our very own Paul Aplin, Professor of Geography, he believes the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could actually be an opportunity to address the next great crisis potentially facing the planet:

Read further the impressive way Edge Hill University is making greener changes:

A poetic reverie: reflections on a year spent getting closer to nature

Lecturer, researcher, poet and outdoor enthusiast Victoria Ekpo looks back on the first year of FootstepsNW, the walking and activity group she founded for Black women and their friends in the north west.

It was important that our group expanded to include others, like the environment does for us daily, and that this generosity be replicated in our activities and relationships. Our friends include spouses, friends, other walking groups and enthusiasts and we learn a lot from these interactions.

We joined up with CPRE Lancashire and members of the Ramblers Association to explore Preston’s parks, architecture and green belt and took some new friends along the historic Edges of Hope Valley and the Goyt River.

On a whim, we signed up to the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge and completed it and went camping for the first time as a group – the first time ever for many of our members and their friends.

Read the article in full:

Climate Change Expert Panel

Geoff Beattie staff profile photo

In the run up to COP26, Geoff was invited to join a ‘Climate Change Expert Panel’ hosted by the International Interdisciplinary Environmental Association and the Laboratorio Nacional de Ciencias de la Sostenibilidad-IE at UNAM in Mexico, the largest university in Latin America. The Chair was Dr. Paola M. Garcia-Meneses, a member of the Climate Change and Sustainable Cities Working Committees of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

The panel also included Dr. Ana Cecilia Conde Álvarez, General Coordinator of Adaptation to Climate Change of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) and part of the Mexican delegation to negotiate the Paris Agreement. She is also the Lead Author of the Sixth IPCC Report on “Decision-making options for managing risk”. And Professor Iain Stewart, the El Hassan bin Talal Research Chair in Sustainability at the Royal Scientific Society (Amman, Jordan), Visiting Professor in Environmental Studies at Ashoka University, India, and Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth.

Trophy Hunt book cover

The panel came from a range of disciplines; it was a chance for Geoff to discuss the psychological barriers to climate change, and highlight the great gap between expressed values and actual sustainable behaviour in most people’s lives. We could all do more and demand more from our politicians. So why aren’t we? Geoff outlined the psychology behind this. The discussion, he reported, was excellent.

Book cover 'the psychology of climate change.

Geoff did an interview on the 29th October with Business Daily on the BBC World Service on the psychology of trophy hunting based on his book ‘Trophy Hunting: A Psychological Perspective’. The programme also involved interviews with the famous conservationist Richard Leakey and a representative of the Born Free Foundation.