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YOUNG PERSONS’ PERSPECTIVE

 

The author

Hi I’m Hannah Walker and I’m going to talk to you about protecting our environment.

John F Kennedy once said:

«We each have to recognize that it is our shared responsibility to ensure we pass on, undiminished to the next generation, the natural wealth and beauty that has ours, to enjoy during our lifetime.»

We know that climate change is affecting our community, from sea level changes effecting our beaches to more frequent weather extremes like floods and droughts. It is up to us all as a community as well as an individual to take responsibility for our environment.

As a district we have to prepare for coastal erosion, floods, landslides, and droughts with an increased competition for water. Ways we can do this is through support of dune care programmes and becoming proactive about water conservation.

Not only is it important to start preparing for climate change but everyone can make a difference in reducing green house gas emissions.

Some simple ways you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions are:

  • Turn off lights, computer, radio and Television when not in use.
  • Close doors, windows, and curtains to keep in the heat.
  • Block draughts around windows and doors.
  • Hang your clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer.
  • Replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost your food scraps.
  • Walk or bike instead of using the car or car pool on long trips.
  • Have your car tuned regularly.

In order to do these things people must first become informed so that they can see Climate Change as something real and something they can personally do something about.

I live in Te Horo and so drive to school in Otaki everyday rather than take the school bus that drives down my road, as well as this I’m usually running late, so leave on all the lights in my room and bathroom etc, much to the annoyance of my mother who must switch off everything I leave carelessly on in my haste.

Some of my friends that live in Otaki will get driven to school each day, rather than getting up 15-20 minutes earlier and walking.

These actions are proof that our attitudes must change significantly if I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the beautiful Kapiti Coast environment, that I have grown up taking for granted.

It is important for me to understand that I am the future generation, so it is my responsibility as much as anybody else’s and we must all remember to think globally but act locally.

Hannah Walker

 
The author

Climate Change

I’m a teenager and I enjoy having sleepovers with my girlfriends, I enjoy playing volleyball and soccer, I enjoy taking my dog for a walk along Paekakariki beach and I enjoy tramping with my family. Plus I’m doing really at school. Yeah I guess my life seems pretty good, so yeah I’m enjoying the best years of my life; I’m enjoying being a teenager. Oh yeah and there is that issue of Climate Change. It’s actually quite an interesting topic, and as Al Gore put it, it’s actually a moral issue.

You see the people who created the issue, the generation above me are simply not going to be around to suffer the consequences and I was always told that you have to face the consequences of your actions. Quite a few years ago my sister and I were throwing a ball on the front lawn. But my sister threw my ball into Mrs. Lumbar’s rose garden, and I had to face the consequences of having to apologise to her and get my ball back! My sister ran off so I had to apologise. Mum told me to say sorry because it was the right thing to do, even when I had nothing to do with it, it was just my ball and I wanted it back. Even though Mrs. Lumbar’s breath smelt like rotten fish (sorry Mrs. Lumbar) and I really didn’t see the point in facing the consequence: I still did it because it was the right thing to do and Mum told me to.

But Climate Change? What is the right thing for teenagers to do? Why should we care about the planet when it wasn’t our fault? But it is still our planet that we want to live on! We are going to have to face all that aftermath of other peoples lazy lifestyle and actions and have to endure that horrible fish breath. And why should we have to suffer? Because it is going to be the young people that are going to have to endure the floods and the heat waves, since the causes of the trouble simply won’t be around to face the consequences of their actions. Yeah Climate Change, it’s a serious issue alright. And the people that will face the consequences and find a solution, yep, that will be teenagers.

I have talked a lot about consequences tonight. I think that people are under the impression that teenagers don’t realise the consequences of their actions. That’s why you always read about another drunken party where the police showed up, because teenagers are given too many choices. But with this whole climate change issue, I don’t think we really have a choice.

Sometimes you just do things that need to be done. Even if you don’t drop that bit of rubbish, you still pick it up. In fact, we actually have a choice, do we want a future or not? Well me? I want my children’s children to be able to experience the sensation of sand between their toes. I know that it’s not going to be an easy battle with a quick fix solution, but no matter how much hard work it is going to be, I know that the feeling of sand between your toes is worth every possible effort to fight against Climate Change. Yeah maybe there will have to be sacrifices; like having walk once and a while or turn a few lights off. So as teenagers we have a choice, to sit down and watch our futures pass us by, or we can take this opportunity to actually make a difference.

This leads me to the key question that I want answered; why are we wasting all this time and energy fighting wars that only result in separation and division amongst one another? If we put that energy into really combating and solving the serious issue that unites every single person on this earth we might just be able to find an answer. But to fight those consequences it requires cooperation from everyone. Because that is the thing about Climate Change it affects every single person. It is not an issue that can be passed by a comment like «Oh that sort of stuff only happens in America. It won’t affect me». Therefore is it not an opportunity to finally unite everyone and appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature?

Yeah a whole lot of scientists can tell us that it is a problem; but knowing is not going to change anything. It’s the actions that really count and anyway I always like to think of knowledge as an opportunity not as an advantage.

This battle against Climate Change is not about saving people; it is about changing people. You can still save millions of lives by some genius invention, but that is not a solution. The only solution is to change the way people are thinking. So then my children’s children can enjoy this beautiful planet because their great grandparents were smart enough to fight and solve the issue, rather than just cover it up.

Everyone has realised what a serious problem tin is, yet I still don’t understand why everyone hasn’t just stopped everything and wanted to solve this issue. Why are people not changing their way of life to help combat Climate Change? Maybe it’s because it is such a huge issue that is on such a large spectrum, it then becomes hard to take a step back and realise what is actually happening to our planet.

When I asked a few students what they thought of Climate Change, they were aware of the issue, yet it didn’t seem like something they could easily create a fix to. It’s not an issue like a dirty river when you can see the problem and find a solution and see the results. The tragic effects of Climate Change, some of us are so blind to because we are just adapting and accepting it as a way of life! If one person walks to work instead of taking the car, yeah that will kinda help, but it isn’t visible and no one will really realise the difference that it made! But when there are no glaciers left on this earth and the temperatures are going ovens to freezers; those effects will be visible and people will have to accept the differences and impact that it will have on their daily life and lives of future generations.

Can we really let that happen to our home? Can we really destroy the planet that we live on? If there is a tap leaking in our home or foundations are wobbly, we don’t just ignore the problem and hope that our roof doesn’t fall down! So why is no one really caring that everyone’s home will soon be destroyed?

Yet there is still hope. Just think of all the bumps on the road we have smoothed over. Yeah this may be a bit more than a bump maybe a knoll, and we know that we won’t get it totally smoothed over. But as long as there is a speed limit over that stretch of road we might just be able to use that road for a long time to come!

And finally the thing about Climate Change; it’s actually not at all about what I think or what I want to do. It’s not at all about the “I’s” or the “me’s”, because there is no way that individuals can physically change the situation. But if all those “I’s” and “me’s” turned into “we” and “us” imagine what impact we could make together.

 
The author

KCDC Climate Change lectures.

Imagine this:
You see a small boy and his grandfather paddling across a calm sea. After some time, the old man motions to his grandson o stop paddling. He waits for the canoe to come to a halt, and begins to speak.
«You know, my Grandfather was born here, on this spot.»
«What, you mean he was born on a ship?»
«No, I mean he was born right here, when this was an island. Though it makes up the seabed now, ten metres below us…»
This could happen in the not too distant future. With Pacific neighbours like Tuvalu and Kiribati likely to be the first states to lose their islands to raising sea levels. It could happen to coastal communities in New Zealand too, even in my lifetime.
To prevent a scene like this ever happening, we need to act now on Climate Change.

Hello, my name is Aidan Smith. I’m 13 years old and am in year 9 at Paraparaumu College, I’m here because I was invited to talk about my thoughts on Climate Change.
I see Climate Change as a serious threat to Earth and all of us as Earth’s inhabitants.
We know that human-induced Global Warming will cause a lot of problems in the future even if greenhouse gases, like CO2, nitrous oxide and methane continue to be produces at their current rate.
Unfortunately the rate of production is not steady — it is increasing.
In New Zealand, our greenhouse gas emissions have increased 22% since 1990, and they’re forecasted to hit 30% by 2012 when our Kyoto commitment is supposed to bring them below 1990 levels.

Most of you are probably already aware of the problems Climate Change will cause: Rising Sea Levels, increased frequency and severity of extreme weather systems, and the expansion of the range of tropical pests and diseases, to name a few.
Rising sea levels mean less land, as experienced by the old man and the boy in the canoe.
Extreme weather systems mean destruction of buildings and loss of plants, animal and human life.
And more pests and diseases mean more people, livestock and crops get sick, putting more pressure on health facilities and the economy.

All of this will have horrible repercussions for me and my peers.
If the adults of today do not address these problems now then they will just be passed on to the next generation. My generation.
We cannot just sit around and let that happen, we have to do something! There are plenty of ways to cut down the production of Greenhouse gasses, but it seems to me that there are a lot of people who couldn’t care less.
It’s not enough just to talk about what those who care should do. We also need to educate others about what can happen if this gets out of hand, before it gets out of hand.

And now I would like to quote some more inevitable statistics.
Just under half of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture — methane and nitrous oxide from farm animals.
However, the main area of growth in emissions today (43%) comes from increased carbon dioxide production from the energy sector — mainly transport and electricity generation.
So how can we stop this undesirable growth?
One way of attempting to reverse this growth is to promote the use of public transport. It would not get rid of all the gasses produced by transportation, but it is a start.
Also, there seem to be a lot of new roads that are planned to be built, Transmission Gully, for one. New roads are not going to help our situation as far as Climate Change in concerned as more roads encourage more cars and therefore more CO2 emissions. Did you know that one-third of all New Zealand car trips are less than one kilometre long? Think how much it would help if we just walked that kilometre, or biked even! Sure we have bike promotion weeks, but that’s one week, there are other countries with bike promotions going on 24/7.
Take Switzerland for example.

I recently lived in a town near Zurich for two years. Roads there are deliberate smaller in townships to discourage car travel, and their bike lanes are huge!
The Swiss also run the best rail system in the world. Breakdowns are very rare and so are late arrival’s. If trains are late they are late by seconds or a few minutes — not hours.
This encourages people to travel by train because they can rely on the system.
What we need in New Zealand is a faster, more frequent and more efficient train system. Apparently, I will have to wait until I’m in Year 13 (that’s 2010) for new carriages to arrive for the Greater Wellington region.
Perhaps our Government should buy back our rail system, invest in upgrading it and that way encourage commuters to use it.

If you insist on travelling in a car, take note of this:
If two cars travel 50 km one at 90km per hour and the other at 100km per hour, the time difference for the journey would only be 3 and a 1/2 minutes while at 90km per hour you will save 15% of your fuel! Speed really does kill. In more ways than one.
One greenhouse gas, methane, is mass-produced in your local landfill. That’s right, out rubbish has come back to haunt us. In landfills, rubbish is compacted together and this does not allow oxygen in to help the breakdown process.
There are two obvious solutions to this.
The first is composting. Household compost heaps are of course small than the average landfill rubbish mountain, and the good gardener turns their compost regularly. In this way oxygen in allowed into the decaying material and this limits the methane production.
The second solution is recycling which goes one step further than composting. The rubbish is reprocessed into new products. Next to none of this recyclable material needs to end up in a landfill.
We must encourage composting and recycling in order to help significantly reduce this methane problem. With the Otaihanga Landfill due to close soon because it is reaching its full capacity, I hope we will have kerbside collection of recyclable waste on the Kapiti Coast before too long.
I’m sad to say that again Switzerland beats us in this field. Where we lived it was required that you recycled all that can be recycled. Paper, cardboard, tin cans, aluminium cans, all plastics (including plastic bottles and plastic bags), and batteries. I mean 60% of all Switzerland’s batteries are made from recycled ones! Our apartment had solar panels on the roof that powered the water and drying rooms as well as all the lifts an the building. The whole building was constructed with environmentally friendly building materials.
Switzerland is way ahead of New Zealand in this respect. The Swiss have been conscious of the need for environmental care for so long that is part of their everyday life, part of their culture. We need to take advantage of New Zealand’s competitive spirit and we need to make it known that countries like Switzerland are beating us in most aspects of being environmentally responsible. Why don’t we learn from the Swiss, just like they learned from us with the America’s Cup?

I’m sure everyone knows that we should live in harmony with our earth rather than in opposition to it. This has been well understood by the Hopi Indians of North America and other indigenous peoples all over the world, including Maori, for countless generations. The idea of control, mastery or dominance of nature is completely foreign to the Hopi. They consider that they have a crucial role to play in the relationship — to the benefit of both themselves and the earth.
If we could consider ourselves a part of the Earth like the Hopi do — not set apart from it as observers or set against it as manipulators — then I believe the Climate Change problem would disappear because we would recognise and accept the responsibility we all have to keep our planet healthy.
A couple of things have happened in the last few weeks that I find encouraging. Both the New Zealand major political parties seem to finally be getting more serious about Climate Change with the Labour and National parties recently releasing their Climate Change policies, as well as the Greens who have been talking about Climate Change for a long time, And Richard Branson has announced that he will donate the equivalent of more than 4 billion NZ dollars over the next decade towards combating Climate Change and promoting alternative energy. If more of us could follow his example — perhaps not by donating billions of dollars — but by recognising that we have a problem and doing what we can to help, then the problem can be resolved.
Think about it, then take positive action:

  • Drive and fly less
  • Cycle, walk and take busses and trains more
  • Conserve energy at home and work
  • Compost food scraps and garden waste
  • Choose less packaged products and take your own bags to the supermarket
  • Reuse and recycle what you can
  • Buy recycled products
  • Plant trees (and leave them in the ground)
  • Educate your family, friends and colleagues

Ask yourself:
What are you prepared to do about Climate Change?

Thank you.

Aidan Smith — Wed 11th October 2006

 
The author

It’s our future and we need to get control of it.

Hi, my name is Anais.

My speech is about how oil is running out and what we can do. Everything you are wearing, all your household furniture, packaging, toys, computers, food, chocolate biscuits [sigh] is made using oil.

Oil is a fossil fuel which means it is made from the bodies of tiny little critters who lived in the ocean between 90 and 150 million years ago. When they died they were buried under the ocean floor where they were squashed, crunched, heated and eventually turned into oil.

There were about two trillion barrels of oil made — but in the last 125 years we have hit the peak, we have already used half of it. Once oil fields reach their half-way point it gets harder and more expensive to get the oil out of the ground.

Because our population keeps growing we need more and more oil every day. We are running out. If we run out the world might be like it was 150 years ago. No play stations, TVs, overseas holidays, mobile phones or junk food.

So, what do you think we should all do about it?

We need to learn to do things without using oil. For example, we will need to ride horses and bikes, know how to grow our own organic food to feed ourselves, and know how to makes our own clothes and shoes. At least we will eat healthy!

We have lots to learn and we need to start now. We also need to tell our parents, councils and government to find out about peak oil and stop doing dumb things like building more roads and buildings. It’s our future and we need to get control of it.

Thanks.

Anais is 11 years old

 
The author

Denial, Denial — The End Of Cheap Oil

The year is 2020 something. Is it all just a bad dream or the future we are creating?

Civilisation has travelled a similar path many times before. Can the voices of the few engage enough of humanity to make some serious change in our use of resources before it’s too late?

Denial, Denial provides a young persons perspective on our future without preparing now, for a world without cheap oil.

 

Scene One — Family Kitchen

BBC Reporter This is the BBC World Service on Saturday 11 May 2003. The latest from the World Markets is that Brent Crude Oil has risen to $US27 a barrel after long term stability at $US25 per barrel…
Mummy Are you OK Jimmy?
Is it your breakfast?
Jimmy… can you hear me — are you feeling OK?
Jimmy (sounding very floaty, but sure, not scared)
I see bones, lots of bones…
Pause
They’re everywhere…
Mummy What sort of bones are they darling?
Jimmy They’re people bones; they’re everywhere.
They’re in cars and outside… all over the place.
There are lots and lots of cars full of bones, people bones.
It’s like they just sat there… waiting.
Mummy So when you look around where are these bones and cars?
Jimmy They’re on a big long road… it’s really wide too. It’s like they just sat there in their cars and died.
Mummy You’re not scared or anything are you, baby?
Jimmy No, just a little sad, that’s all.

 

Scene Two — Family Kitchen

BBC Reporter This is the BBC World Service on Sunday 27 February 2005. The latest from the World Markets is that Brent Crude Oil has reached $US52 a barrel…
Jimmy Mummy, you know that guy we listened to on the MP3 player on that long drive we went to, in the holidays.
Mummy You mean when we drove down to Oamaru?
Jimmy Yeah, that’s right.
That guy… he talked about a place where they cut down all the trees remember, until there was nothing left and no one knew why.
Mummy You mean Easter Island?
Jimmy Yeah, that’s it.
Mummy That guy is Ronald Wright and he wrote “A short history of progress”.
Jimmy Well… remember those people on the Island… they just kept cutting down the trees until they cut down the very last one…
Even I know it takes a long time for a tree to grow.
Mummy Yeah you’re right, it’s very interesting how those people just kept on the same behaviour, almost with blinkers on, while clearly they were destroying their Island and all their resources.
Jimmy What does resources mean again Mummy?
Mummy For them it meant things they need to live, such as water, trees, food, supplies — if we don’t manage our resources, they’ll run out, like the Easter Islanders.
Jimmy Well remember that day dream thing I had a couple of years ago — the one about all the bones in the cars.
Mummy Yes, I remember that darling.
Jimmy Well I think what I saw was a bit like the people on that Island that just kept cutting down the trees.
Mummy Yes, I can see the similarities.
How does that make you feel right now?
Jimmy Well, I’m not really sure — I do think it could be a lot of fun living a bit more simply — we could even try living without electricity mummy.

 

Scene Three — Family Kitchen

BBC Reporter This is the BBC World Service on Saturday 15 July 2006. The latest from the World Markets is that Brent Crude Oil has reached an all time high of $US81 a barrel…
Jimmy Mummy, I had this really weird dream last night.
Mummy Do you want to tell me about it?
Jimmy First I noticed the silence…
Then I was walking, looking for food.
All my supplies had run out where I was staying, so I was out searching for food.
Mummy So where were you in the dream?
Jimmy Well, it was a road, actually lots of roads really, going in all different directions, all sort of squiggerly.
Mummy Were there any cars on the roads?
Jimmy No, that’s the thing, it was so quiet, it was like I was the only person left.
Mummy Did you recognise anywhere familiar in your dream? Was it in Nelson?
Jimmy I think it was Auckland because I could see the Sky Tower really close.
Mummy How old do you think you are in your dream?
Jimmy Well, my body looks grownup, but I think I’m like an old teenager.
Mummy Do you have any idea what year it is?
Jimmy I think I remember seeing a calendar where I was staying and it was 20 20 something…
Mummy How did the dream make you feel?
Jimmy I felt really lonely and sad. Sad that we didn’t build communities and look after each other and plan for the future.
It’s like if we don’t change now, it will be too late to change later. Just like us, people have done this lots of times before, just like the people on Easter Island.

Liam FitzSimon Cooper, 8 years old

Click here to listen to an audio version of Denial, Denial. [file size: 2.1 MB]