Youth Climate Conference reports

Forest of promises

This was about how removing forests will affect us. We need to keep the climate from rising 1.5%more. Changing rooftops to tree gardens. The leaves remove co2. They are homes for lots of creatures. They send chemical messages to each other, this is still to be explored. We need to learn more, we need ideas about what to do not just yell do something. That is useless. What does it mean for you and how could you do form the planet. The school is an important role. It gives us an opportunity to work with others and not on your own. Helps people exchange ideas. Schools can get you to speak to MPs and get noticed by the press. Leaf do something on one side and a promise you will do. Plant more trees. Pick up litter, eat less meat, throw away less. Leaves what you want to happen. Put on fallen branch, make a tree out of these leaves. Million of children are doing this. Boris says to make other world leaders cut carbon emissions.

International Climate Conference

During COP as part of the Connecting Classroom programme, we are organised an online climate conference with the 6 schools involved, 3 in the UK and 3 in Bangladesh. We started by introducing each school:

Coleg Meirion Dwyfor – a sixth form college in Wales; Sutton CofE Primary School – near Ely; Sreepur Govt Pilot High School, Gazipur; Khalishak uri Govt. Primary School, Dhaka; Azim Uddin High School, Kishorega.

Next we split into breakout rooms with students from each school and looked at:-

Discussion 1: How much our country is contributing to climate change and what are the main sources of Greenhouse Gases. What can we do as a country to reduce our climate emissions

Discussion 2: What effects / impacts might we see as a country due to the effects of climate change. What can we do as a country to adapt to climate change

Discussion 3: What can we be doing as individuals about climate change – this could include personal actions, household actions, contacting politicians, student climate strike

World’s largest lesson

Students from Comberton attended remotely the World’s largest lesson which was broadcast live from COP26.

A recording is available here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HExapQfulPg&t=826s

Online were students from all over the world – Peru, South Africa, Italy to name but a few.. The lesson consisted of a summary of climate change, the effects that it has, solutions including a look at farming and diets.

This coincided with a focus on climate change in lessons at Comberton on Friday (which had been nominated as the ‘Youth and education day’ at COP), where teachers were encouraged to look at some of the issues and solutions, including watching some documentaries on iplayer: such as – ‘Climate change: Ade on the frontline’ (a documentary than can be recommended) and ‘Shop well for the planet’ (a guide to what you can do in your home to help the planet and your finances).

Youth Climate Summit

Students from the Eco Team have been watching parts of the youth climate summit, which has coincided with COP 26. Year 7 have watched sessions on a climate ‘Dragon’s den’, WWF ‘forest of promises’ and ‘A call to Action’. Year 8 watched a session on digital story telling and year 10 a session on ‘Climate Anxiety’.

Videos are still available to watch on

Transform Our World: bringing environmental action into the classroom with quality-rated resources (transform-our-world.org)

Username: comberton-_student

Password: education

Eco bricks

At school, we have been collecting eco bricks. Eco bricks are plastic bottles filled with non recyclable plastic. https://ecobricks.org/welcome.php

We received a STEM grant from the Royal Society to help run our project and linked with a STEM ambassador (an engineer) to look at how to use a STEM approach to tack the problem of plastic waste. We decided on eco bricks as a way to highlight the amount of plastic wasted that we generate. The plan was to advertise this and get students to make their own out of the own rubbish that they created, and then to create some practical item that would bring the problem of plastic use to people’s attention. Our first project was a bench made out of eco bricks. The eco bricks are are all the same size and then were made into hexagonal modules which could be fitted together. The problems we encountered was how to connect the bottles together, we tried a variety of glues (mostly unsuccessfully). Our bench though as you can see below is functional.

We now have been looking at using cement free concrete to bind the bottles together. (https://dbgholdings.com/cemfree/). This proved possible as we found a concrete mixer in school – used for construction. We have made one block and are learning from our mistakes to produce some more (whole process was stopped for 18 months for COVID). The aim now is to produce enough blocks to make a raised bed for the food tech department to grow herbs in

This has been a huge learning experience and hopefully will also have a useful finished product.

2 of our team presented to the green zone at COP of Friday 5th November. The green zone is the public zone and they had 2 15 minute slots, where they presented their project via zoom and then were asked questions from members of the public and representatives of the Royal Society.

Presenting live to COP via Zoom
Students presenting whilst sitting on the eco brick bench

5 Major Extinctions

THE FIVE MAJOR EXTINCTIONS

The Mesozoic era ended in what is almost certainly the most notable catastrophe ever, but the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction was in fact only the most recent of the five major extinction-level events in Earth’s paleo-history.

First was the Ordovician-Silurian event; up until the Silurian period the only life on Earth lived in the extremely biodiverse seas of the Cambrian and Ordovician, primarily arthropods, but one animal called mikomingia. Mikomingia had no fins, teeth or eyes and was about the size of your thumbnail, but it had a backbone, making it the very first fish, and the earliest vertebrate. During the Ordovician, the seas had much more variety than in the Cambrian and one life form which would lead to the first major extinction. During this period the first plants started growing on land who performed photosynthesis at a remarkable rate which leads the majority of scientists to believe that the great dying happened as a result of the oxidising of the atmosphere. The Silurian period brought great change to the planet, obviously the fish and cephalopods still thrived but the arthropods, mainly land-based, had shrunken to animals recognisable today. Amphibians had also evolved and headed onto land.

The second of the major events was one of the smallest and happened midway through the Devonian period. There is much debate surrounding what caused this extinction because there were lots of possible causes at the time, for instance; asteroid storms, super-volcanoes and the movement of the tectonic plates could all have had a part to play in the Devonian event.

After the Devonian period came, the Carboniferous period came about, whilst not connected to any major extinction level events I still thought it was worth mentioning. During the bulk of the Carboniferous period the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere was over 60% above what it is today, as a result of the extreme climate, plants like ferns and arthropods were able to sustain much larger bodies and the Earth was covered in swampy forests. Then you could’ve found spiders and scorpions the size of your head or, most infamously, creatures like Meganeura and Arthropleura. Meganeura would be recognisable today as a dragonfly, except with a wingspan of over a metre. Arthropleura, on the other hand, was an early ancestor of the millipede which, if it were to stand upright (or as upright as millipede can stand), would be over 2 metres tall.

The largest of the extinction events ended the Palaeozoic era and caused over 90% of animal life to be wiped out. The Permian was hot, and a stark contrast to the Carboniferous period before. By this time, lizards from the Carboniferous and late Devonian had evolved into a strange class of animals called synapsids. Synapsids were somewhere between mammals and reptiles, they moved like a mix between the two, some had tough skin and fur, other scales with smaller hairs. By the end of the Permian almost all large animal life were synapsids, but during the Permian-Triassic extinction event the globe began to heat up. Oceans dried up, drought and desertification brought the end of the synapsids. The only synapsids who survived were small burrowers, capable of extracting water from the last of the desert plants and after the extinction, during the Triassic, they would flourish.

When the Mesozoic era begun, with the Triassic period, the burrowing synapsids evolved into vast herds, spanning the globe. Lystrosaurus were the most successful species ever to have lived, throughout the Triassic period they ventured to every part of the world and were the only large herbivores, there were more of them then there ever have been humans and so their demise, along with of course the numerous carnivores who relied on them for food, made up the Triassic-Jurassic major extinction-level event. The synapsids died out due to the birth of a new species, who, via competition, eliminated such a momentous portion of animal life on Earth. These new reptiles were, of course, the dinosaurs which would dominate the planet for the rest of the era until they had their own extinction at the end of the Mesozoic.

During the next period, the Jurassic, dinosaurs ruled the land, huge marine reptiles the sea, and pterosaurs in the skies. It’s also between this period and the Cretaceous that we can see glimpses of the Earth as we know it today. In the Jurassic, the planet’s sixth super-continent, Pangaea, split up into the seventh super-continent, Gondwana, in the South and Laurasia, which made up Europe, North America and Asia. In the early Cretaceous period the first grasses evolve and later in the period bees and butterflies began pollinating the first flowering plants. During this era, the Himalayas and the Andes would grow, and the Atlantic was still expanding. But the pinnacle of life, the Mesozoic era, would eventually come to a close in the most infamous extinction event ever.

The Cretaceous period was mostly a dangerous and hostile planet, with super-volcanoes, climate change, an increasingly more toxic atmosphere and finally a comet which stuck the Gulf of Mexico and over a few weeks destroyed 75% of animal life. Still the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction has left its marks on Earth including a boundary deep below the Earth’s surface and, of course, what came next. The Cenozoic era gave rise to some of the first mammals including the first human species, homo habilis.

But I have a concern which I share with many, which is that we are leading out planet towards a sixth major extinction-level catastrophe. It’s not a crazy as you might think that littering and deforestation could have a similar eventual affect to the third great dying. Nature will bounce back, as sad as it is, this isn’t about saving an animal you’ve never heard of in a place, far away in a place you’ve never been. This is about us fixing the problem we made for our own good. We need to learn how to save ourselves.

COP26 talk report

The green group were lucky enough to have Aled Jones, the dad of a Year 7 pupil and a very important person in sustainability who will be going to COP 26, join them over Microsoft teams to deliver a talk about climate change.

Firstly, Aled spoke about the Paris Agreement (a agreement between world leaders stating what they would do to save the environment in the next few years) and how it was relevant to COP 26 (a meeting in Glasgow in November this year where world leaders will make more pledges about what they will do for the planet, which will hopefully achieve enough this time).

Aled then talked about what the world has done in the last decade to combat climate change in several areas of the problem: energy, transport, forests, food, homes, jobs, waste, behaviour, community and leadership, and what we need to do in the next ten years. One interesting statistic is that, from less than 1 percent ten years ago, nearly half our lighting sales are now of efficient LED lights globally.

Lastly, Aled told the green group about a new book coming out which he had helped to organise. It was a series of letters from young people across the globe to world leaders, telling them what they want governments to do in the next decade. A Comberton pupil (Freya in 7N) has written one of the letters in the book. This book will be given to world leaders at COP 26.

All in all, it was a fascinating and informative talk. Thank you for coming to speak to us, Aled!

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