Student Union Address Climate Change

Climate change is a critical topic worldwide, especially with the younger generation in society who are thinking about what the future holds for them. 

Our Student Union recently entered a competition with Portsmouth News in which they produced some great journalism with a focus on environmental issues facing the City and wider world. We are delighted to say that the team were awarded second place in the competition and won a small fee for their achievement, which will be donated to a charity of their choice. Great work! Here’s their submissions;

Storm Dennis – A prediction of the future?

The world is facing a climate emergency. Experts warn of the catastrophic effects climate change will have: a 2-11% increase in average maximum wind speed, a 20% increase in rainfall and sea levels increasing by 1-4 feet, amplifying the effects of catastrophic storm surges. Not only are small islands and communities being annihilated, but the UK is witnessing these effects too. At the time of writing, Storm Dennis is on his way. This, along with the previous impacts of Storm Ciara, will devastate many areas of the UK. Ciara was set to be the most ferocious beast to hit us since 2013, with a danger to life warning being issued by the Met Office and it definitely didn’t shy away from bringing 80mph gusts; leaving damaged infrastructure, and large waves battering the coast. Climate change isn’t going to wait until 2050. Climate change is happening now.

Climate change and unsettling times 

The impacts of climate change around the world are becoming clearer to see, with major loss of sea ice and increases in extreme weather being some of the more obvious ones. Many species are becoming extinct due to habitat destruction and their sources of food going into decline. Soon, native creatures will be disappearing from all of the continents across the globe and the animals that we learnt about as children will not be known by future generations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that an average rise of 1.5°c could place 20-30% of species at risk of extinction. Deforestation means that habitats are being destroyed as well as adding to climate change. The huge amounts of CO2 being released when trees are cut down is adding to the greenhouse effect, warming our planet further and intensifying the impacts of climate change. Trees are one of the best natural methods that will allow us to achieve net zero emissions but we are not utilising it. Another major impact of climate change is rising sea levels. As an island nation we may be severely affected by this but as an island city, it could be devastating. If sea ice continues to melt, mainly due to our warming planet, sea levels will continue to rise, placing many island countries and cities at risk of completely disappearing. We cannot continue to live in the way that we currently are because we may end up destroying our planet; our home.

A future without change is no future at all

Portsmouth could suffer hugely from the impacts of climate change. We are already beginning to see the impacts of rising sea levels and increased storms, with new sea defences being built and old sea defences being destroyed. With sea levels rising, coastal towns and cities face an uncertain future, one which is hard to predict and even harder to avoid. We need to take action to reduce global warming because this will in turn slow the melting rate of glaciers and sea ice, meaning that sea level rise will not occur as quickly or as dangerously. Reducing air pollution within the city is something which Portsmouth City Council are beginning to focus on and with 29% of deaths from lung cancer, 24% of deaths from strokes and 25% of deaths from heart disease being due to air pollution, this is definitely something which needs to be changed. The city wants to reduce its carbon footprint by around 60% by 2050 but this requires a lot of coordination between the companies that provide transport, the council and the public and although it seems like a big ask, it is something which has to be done. Electric charging points for cars have already been appearing around the city, food waste trials have been successful and there is a vision for an extension on the current park and ride into and out of the city centre. These are all a move in the right direction but we need to take our own personal actions too, for example by making sure that we recycle and trying to walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible. The Council are beginning to act, a climate group has been formed within the local region and together, we can and we will tackle climate change head on.

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