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Planet is in your hands - green campaigner tells next generation

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

Sharing Views: Amy Evans, Arthur Bailey, Jonathon Porritt, Oliver Baldwin and Stephanie Garcia

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CURBING climate change linked to spiralling population growth is one of the biggest challenges facing our world – and you are the ones who have to tackle it.

That was the hard-hitting message from Cheltenham-based environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt when he spoke to an audience of sixth form geography pupils in Cheltenham yesterday.

The former head of Friends of the Earth gave a talk entitled Sustainable Cities at a geography conference hosted by Cheltenham Ladies' College.

And he pulled no punches, telling his young audience introducing sustainable practices in large urban areas was crucial to the planet's future.

"The growth in human numbers is by far the biggest influence on the world today," he said.

"Most of the growth in cities is going on in developing and emerging countries where there is an inexorable migration of people into cities.

"All big climate issues we are up against will be helped by a gradual decline in the number of human beings."

He said according to projections the world's population was set to grow to nine billion by 2050.

In cities, he pointed out, it was vital to improve sustainability by implementing contraception programmes.

He added: "Most cities are built close to the seaboard or rivers and the majority of inhabitants live close to sea level.

"Right now urban planners are looking at this with a growing sense of ill-ease.

"We are seeing the accelerated process of melting of Arctic sea ice during the summer.

"Data tells us it is getting worse and worse.

"For urban populations accelerated climate change and rising sea levels present an extra-ordinary challenge. You are the ones who will have to learn how to adapt.

"When you hear people banging on about the importance of climate change they are talking about what will happen to your world."

Following the talk the audience was full of questions.

Jonty Lawford, head of geography at the Ladies' College, said: "It's quite an inspiration for pupils to listen to someone who is globally well known.

"Theirs is the generation that will have to tackle these issues, which is quite a daunting prospect.

"But it is our job to empower them with the knowledge and confidence to do it."

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  November 16 2012, 10:45AM

    pingu61...........I have done too much research, that's the problem. And for you to say 'Climategate' was a lie, just shows how blinkered you are. I'm lucky enough to have been brought up by two brilliant parents that always listened to both sides of any arguement, researched further themselves, much more difficult then without t'interweb, then reached their own conclusions. I adopt the same unblinkered philosophy, such that I change my opinions on various things through my life, although I have to say that is usually when events change things, rather than historical facts. On this though, I'm with the science that says that warming is cyclical, indeed it was only thirty years ago we were discussing a new ice age, wth visions of The Thames freezing over!

  • JASB999  |  November 16 2012, 9:26AM

    There are always new technologies coming out. For instance there is work on storing wind generated power when it's not being used: http://tinyurl.com/clnz53r This makes wind generated power more viable and important as a mix of supplies rather than relying on one source.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 16 2012, 1:08AM

    johnstevens3 - Yor are absolutely right regarding the numbers/installed MW but feel assumptions of installed and useful capacity somewhat questionable. It is to be expected that wind is intermittent - however the way its usefulness is measured is to look at annual generation - not as a percentage of total demand met at any particular time or period. Typically commercial wind farms generate between 20 and 30% annual capacity factors, they have to measure wind potential at installed locations before banks will lend for the project and construction start. Off-shore fare much better - and also those in the North/Scotland compared with those close to built up or forested locations. Definitely much more than the 3% mentioned. without getting into fisticuffs with anti and pro-nuclear lobby, wind power is the most technically, and commercially proven, also environmentally balanced renewable power source. However given its intermittancy, there have been occasions, when generation had to be turned down to meet transmission and other system requirements. It is nevertheless a part of the energy mix within nuclear, gas, and even coal sources. We need all these sources to survive/secure supply within the political uncertainty of gas and nuclear fuel imports. "Wind power in the United Kingdom, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia " - "At the beginning of September 2012, the installed capacity of wind power in the United Kingdom was 6,858 megawatts (MW), with 357 operational wind farms and 3,873 wind turbines in the United Kingdom.[1] The United Kingdom is ranked as the world's eighth largest producer of wind power." My note - We will probably have over 25,000MW wind power by 2020, more than Germany's. But also will need large nuclear stations to provide stable base load. Having said all this - we still need to question the sustainability of this huge production/consumption economics in a world where populations, and expectations are increasing but the natural resources needed to keep the engine depleting rapidly, quite apart from the environmental pollution any form of energy generation involves - even wind turbines involve pollution during manufacture, transport, and installation.

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  • pingu61  |  November 15 2012, 10:27PM

    Wow JimKerr I don't know where that 15 year figure came from, but the real figure is between 5 and 8 months for an onshore wind turbine to recover the CO2. And about 8 to 12 months for an offshore one. Climategate was a lie - no evidence of deciete was ever found. The release of that data was timed to obfiscate and give excuses for procrastination. On the other hand today headlines has video evidence of Tory's MPs lieing to suppress wind farm developements and hide the risks of over-relience on gas. Nigel Lawsons Anti-green Lobby group is designed to support the oil industry - hiding behind the label of an "educational charity" - another lie! That is the sort of mentality we're up against from those indiviuals and organistation which are supported by the multi-billion pount oil industry. Do your research!

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  • johnstevens3  |  November 15 2012, 7:32PM

    There are 4000 wind turbines, on and off shore in this country, they produce just 3% of our energy needs, those who believe in this technology do the maths, the energy to make them, to ship them here from China, the transport to site, the concrete used to pin them in place, and the damage to the land, and the eco warriors say they are green.

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  November 15 2012, 3:11PM

    pingu61...............calling him an idiot is part of the whole response. In particular, it's his remark about UK residents thinking there was a role for nuclear. And if you read everything, I haven't just called him an idiot, I have given reasons why. The climategate emails from last year, the science (it being SCIENCE, means that it was there all along, but conveniently overlooked by some) that onshore turbines take about fifteen years to recoup their manufacturing costs...........then die, as that's the life expectancy too. The fact that we are smothering south facing fields with solar panels. The fact that China is buying up vast tracts of Africa, so that it can feed itself! The fact that last winter, when we had snow, turbines accounted for 0.01% electricity generation on many days. The fact that the world population of 7bn, is likely to double by the end of THIS century, and is the real elephant in the room. And the Tories are vilified for daring to suggest that child benefit stops at two! No, nuclear REALLY is the only option.........................for powering all Apple iPhones!.......other brands of hand held appliances are avail.............!

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  • Douglasknows  |  November 15 2012, 11:18AM

    I wonder if mankind has saved the planet by extracting the oil/gas/coal etc. bfore it blew us to kingdom come.

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  • pingu61  |  November 15 2012, 11:15AM

    I don't agree with Porrits comments about nuclear and nor do I totally agree with his focus on shale gas, but I wouldn't call him an idiot. We need people like him (and those who disagree with him) to take help us form our own opinions over a very complicated technological subject with massive political and social implications. If the only response to that you can come up with is to call somebody an idiot, then your argument must be very flimsy indeed. I have only ever seen him on bicycle and train. Both of which are, of course, manufactured, but with far lower impact than a car. I bet his home has much better insullation than most. His electricty is likely to be from a renwable source. But you have me on the Apple (oh hang on - try googling for "Apple sustainability report"). Get some eveidance that somebody is a hypocrit before making the accusation, and drawing conclusions from that. Non of us can live a zero impact lifestyle, but we can all work to minimise our impact.

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  November 15 2012, 10:35AM

    I expect Porritt to attend his next 'lecture' wearing a purple shell suit à la David Icke! To quote from the last time this idiot appeared in print; 'A long-term blogger, Mr Porritt, who co-founded the green pressure group Forum for the Future, recently wrote of how he was "staggered" by how many people "think there is a role for nuclear power in the UK". And as I commented last time; 'That'll be him wearing his manufactured clothes, jumping in his maufactured car, back to his manufactured house, where he'll be blogging on his manufactured Apple something or other, using manufactured electricity............that is, blogging to all his followers using the same manufactured electricity, on their manufactured Apple something or others, in their manufactured homes........................get it?"

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  • Lecorche  |  November 15 2012, 10:32AM

    The Planet will win by getting rid of mankind. It's known as natural selection.

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