In case you missed her profile on the Climate Mama website, our Summer “Climate Mama” was Erica Charles, founder of Schools Low Carbon Day which took place at the end of June 2010 in the United Kingdom. Erica inspired and organized over 1600 schools and 600,000 students to learn more about climate change! Erica is one of our Climate Change Heroes. Join Erica as she tells us more about her project and her perspective on Climate Change.
Also, please take a moment to “meet” our September Climate Mama, Lisa “Diz” Glithero, Educator, Polar Explorer, Adventurer and mom!
Current project/position/adventure: Schools Low Carbon Day 2010
Parent or grandparent? Parent, mother of three!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, the steps you took, life events, decisions you made, that helped you arrive at where you are at today?
I am a mother of three. I have been listening to the climate change debate for a few years now, thinking: “If the scientists are right, we are really not doing enough to tackle this problem.” Until the last 12 months, very little seemed to be happening in this country (the United Kingdom). Now more has happened at a government level – we now have a Climate Change Act committing us to carbon reductions – but the reality is that the commitments will only happen if people change their behavior. [Unfortunately] there is not a whole lot of evidence of that – big cars are still everywhere, we are expanding our airports etc, etc. The majority of people here do not believe in man-made climate change (or they do not know what to believe.)
So I thought I must do something to raise awareness of the issue and try and influence people at a grass roots level. I [jumped in] and set up Low Carbon Day, a place where schools can learn about climate change and pupils pledge to do something to reduce their carbon footprint. We now have nearly 1600 schools participating, representing 600,000 pupils.
What inspires you to keep going, to keep fighting this challenging battle against climate change?
I look at my kids and I think we have to ensure that climate change doesn’t wreak havoc in the next 30 to 40 years or so. I also think an energy crisis is possibly ‘round the corner so going green makes sense, no matter what you believe.
What are the three greatest challenges and/or opportunities you feel the world faces with climate change?
Scientists don’t seem to be convincing enough people that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be tackled. So it is a very divisive issue. Convincing more people to change their behavior and to accept green taxes and green measures imposed by government will be difficult, if the majority of people do not believe in man made climate change.
The main challenge from climate change actually happening, may be the instability arising from migration of people who don’t have enough food or water. This will put considerable pressure on resources [around the world] and potentially lead to war, etc.
I think there is a real opportunity to move to a cleaner, greener world with less emphasis on consumption and ‘biggering and biggering’ (my favorite phrase from the Lorax by Dr Seuss!) and more emphasis on living healthier, greener lives.
Scientific predictions seem to be pointing to dire scenarios, a shorter time frame for a warmer planet and all of the negative ramifications that this will cause. What will it take for us to avert these consequences?
I am not a scientist so I can only rely on what they say is needed in terms of emissions cuts. If the scientists are right it is going to take a massive commitment from political leaders throughout the world and from individuals if we are going to make the necessary cuts. A complete change in our way of life [will be required] – our non-stop consumption, our feeling that we can fly or drive anywhere we want, as often as we want [needs to change].
Do you see any hopeful signs that people are waking up to the dangers of climate change?
Yes and no. The UK government has done and is doing quite a lot, but people are very cynical particularly after emails discrediting climate scientists and lots of negative publicity for the IPCC (United Nations International Panel on Climate Change). No one in this country except the (small) Green Party is prepared to say that tackling climate change and endless growth in consumption are not compatible. I think we are in danger of going backwards not forwards ….
What advice would you give to other Climate Mama’s and Papa’s, steps they can take both as individuals and collectively to help change the course we currently find ourselves on with climate change.
Lead by example and change perceptions of what a ‘must have’ lifestyle is! Try to fly less, drive less, and consume less. Conserve energy as much as possible. Put in the insulation, low energy bulbs, maybe some solar panels or other renewable technology.
Contact information, website, or related story you would like us to link to this article?
Favorite book or movie?
On this topic it has to be one for kids – The Lorax by Dr Seuss.