I dare you to care: a Climate Emergency in St Albans

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you the Earth is getting warmer. The news has already told you that. You don’t need me to tell you that fossil fuels are bad, and renewables are good. You know that.  And you definitely don’t need me to tell you that, without change, we’re heading directly for extinction. But maybe what you don’t know is why should you care.

Today’s blog is written by Anna  Hardisty  age 20 years – university student at Warwick , and St Albans resident.

A Critical Junction

The Earth is at a critical junction. Imagine you booked yourself in for a driving test, nine months in advance. Now imagine that it’s almost two weeks before the test and you haven’t even stepped foot in a car. You’ve got your theory test tomorrow but that’s as far as you’ve got. I think it’s fair to say the appropriate response involves a fair amount of panic. And probably frantic searching for an intensive two-week course. This is the Earth’s current dilemma. The generations before us have spent the last 70 years ignoring the problem they were creating.  The consequence is a ticking time bomb with an expected explosion date of eleven years from now. Unlike a driving test, this can’t be rescheduled, and the ramifications are unbelievably more severe.

Ed note: The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. UN Report on Climate Change

The UK is currently failing to reach its target of reducing its carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change has just recommended the UK aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

Climate Refugees

By 2050 the World Bank predicts that 140 million people are likely to be climate refugees. That’s 140 million mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, babies, grandmas, grandpas, friends, neighbours, husbands, wives, doctors, soldiers, bankers, bakers, engineers, teachers, classmates, lawyers, and scientists displaced directly by global warming. They are unable to live in their homes and are forced to seek shelter and help; this would be an unprecedented refugee crisis. To give you some perspective, that’s equivalent to the whole of Russia becoming homeless. Or three UKs. Or half of the USA. The UN estimates 13.5 million were displaced by the crisis in Syria. Cast your minds back to a few years ago to the panic created by the refugee crisis then and multiply it by ten. 2050 is catastrophically too late

Let’s create a sustainable future for our world

The  Climate Emergency Petition calls for carbon neutrality for St Albans District Council by 2030.*  Eleven years sounds like a long time but in the grand scheme of things, it’s equivalent to that two-week intensive driving course you were panickily googling for earlier. Ambitious but not out of reach. We’re calling on the St Albans Council to act and use their power to make decisions that will benefit us and all those that follow. It’s time to do what the generations before us failed to do- create a sustainable future for our world.

And the truth is, it is change or have our lives changed for us. I’m twenty years old and, by current UK statistics, have another sixty years or so left on this planet. I want to have the freedoms my parents did. I want to pick a house not based solely on its likelihood of flooding. I want my children to grow up not in constant fear of famine, wildfire or war over resources. I want to be able to watch ‘Bananas in Pyjamas and ‘Happy Feet’ with the kids I babysit, without them thinking the casts are mythical creatures.

“Are we being good ancestors?”

This is a question posed to us by Jonas Salk, pioneer of the first polio vaccination. It’s not a question that crosses your mind often, if at all, as we’re understandably preoccupied with the demands of the here and now. But our future depends on keeping that question in mind constantly- when we’re choosing how to travel, what we buy at the supermarket, and who we vote for.

Sign the Climate Emergency Petition

So, sign the petition. Tell your friends. Tell your parents. Get them to sign it. Sustainable St Albans has a great list of events where you can learn about the difference you can make.

And the next time you hear about the greenhouse effect, the next time you see yet another hurricane on the news, the next time you see MPs shy away from the subject, I dare you to care. 

Anna Hardisty

*Editor note: Net zero by 2030 should be achievable for a district council with no airport or shipping in its patch, and no major imports to tackle

Harpenden explores nature for SustFest19

As part of Harpenden Town Council’s aim to encourage people to engage and learn more about their local common and green spaces, our Commons and Greens Support Officer runs events throughout the year, exploring a wide variety of wildlife and habitats.

Harpenden Town Council takes over our Guest Blog this week looking at events being run as part of the Sustainabilty Festival 11th May to 1st June. Details of all events below can be found at sustainablestalbans.org

Spending just a few minutes each day enjoying nature is known to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as help to create long lasting memories with children and adults alike. More information about events throughout the year can be found at http://www.harpenden.gov.uk/events-calendar as well as booking links for those below.

Bat Walks


Harpenden Common is home to two species of bat, the Common Pipistrelle and the Soprano Pipistrelle. These are species which hunt for their prey along treelines and hedgerows, making the common perfect hunting ground. What do they eat? How do we know we have these species on the Common? What can we do to continue to help these nocturnal predators of the sky? Come along to Bat Walks on Harpenden Common on the 14th and 16th May to find out.

River Dipping

29-5 58 - RIver DippingHarpenden is home to lots of special habitats and one of these is the chalk river, the river Lea, which runs through it. Chalk streams are a rare habitat, 98% of which are found in England. They boast a diversity which rivals the rainforest, from the tiniest aquatic invertebrates to a number of fish species. Can you identify a mayfly larvae or a stonefly larvae? What does a caddis fly make its home out of? Bring along some wellies and get stuck in, learn how to id these aliens of the waterways and how we look after this special habitat. Morning and afternoon session on the 29th May. 10am – 12:30pm Morning session. 2pm – 3:30pm Afternoon Session

18-5 57 Litter picking

Litter Picking on the Common

Come along and help us keep Harpenden clean by picking up a litter picker and a bag at Harpenden Cricket Club. Go the extra mile and separate the recyclable litter from the non-recyclable. Drop in session from 1pm to 3pm – Pop along at any point during that time to collect your gear.

Marvellous Mammals

Bank vole in the hand - small mammal trappingThis event is running in conjunction with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Small mammals like field voles, shrews and field mice are an incredibly important part of any food chain. Able to produce between 5-10 litters of 3-12 young every year, they are plentiful in number and are eaten by birds, larger mammals, and even insects take advantage! A healthy number of small mammals can indicate a healthy habitat. Come along and see the small mammal live traps (called longworth traps) in action, and hopefully see a mouse or shrew! Learn what they look like, what they eat, and what tracks and signs these and some of our larger mammals leave behind. Location TBC – Friday 31st May 9:30am-11am.