Thanks to Christina for this account of the day's events.
The Marnhull Eco Day held in the village hall was organised by Sustainable Dorset’s Jenny Morisetti and was really well attended. It was a positive and informative event and in addition to the speakers, there were display stands and stalls covering issues ranging from the carbon footprint of our food and purchase of fresh flowers to Lucy’s Coconut and Cotton, along with several others of interest.
The gathering was opened by Dave Smith who introduced the speakers, the first of whom was Neil Morisetti, Honorary Professor and Director of Strategy at University College London’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy Department and formerly the government’s special representative for climate change. Neil Morisetti’s talk provided an overview of the current climate emergency, outlining the key areas of concern, what the implications are and the time frame for what might be done about them. He described how the pace of climate change is the fastest in the planet’s history and that humans are contributing to it. He pointed to the frequency of high temperatures in formerly more temperate climates, the frequency of extreme weather events and how globally widespread these now are. Not only is the polar ice melting at a greater rate than ever before and with the repercussions of the rising sea levels, but the seas themselves are becoming warmer and more acidic, and contributing to those very extreme weather events.
The meeting was reminded of how countries in the equatorial belt are already being affected by climate change factors, consequences including crop failures, high food prices, instability in the region and increased migration. He thus illustrated how the rest of the world, notably Europe, is affected by this situation; and yet northern hemisphere countries are also seeing the effect of those weather patterns on crop yield reduction, disruption to food supply chains and other negative impacts on the economy and global trade.
When it came to the government’s declaration on the Climate Emergency, Neil Morisetti said that words are not enough and immediate and collective action needs to be taken: this means a long-term strategy involving everyone of us. With 97% of scientists agreeing that there is a human-made climate emergency, we need to listen since they, along with climate technologists, are also the people who are working on solutions. The government needs to create a framework but so do our local councils since they are in a position to inform and educate local people, explain the benefits of changing behaviour but not delivering a negative, ‘doom and gloom’ narrative which can only alienate them. Suggestions he made for individual action included dietary re-appraisals, locally produced food to reduce transport emissions, energy use and electrical charging points together with improved public transport. Although he acknowledged that many changes would have significant cost, he advocated the holding of our local councils’ development plans to account and that good leadership was critical in reducing the risks of the worst aspects of the climate emergency.
The following two speakers, Alan Mash and Jenny Morisetti, focused their talks on everyday things we can do ourselves at home in order to reduce our carbon footprint: these included improving the insulation of our homes against heat loss, turning the temperature down and wrapping up warmly, using renewable energy, using energy more efficiently and having our boilers checked regularly to ensure that they are performing optimally. He described how Dorset Council, with the help of The Centre for Sustainable Energy and Evolve Home Energy Solutions is providing lots of help under the banner of Healthy Homes Dorset where some grants are available for loft, wall and boiler installations (see https://www.healthyhomesdorset.org.uk/ ). He underlined how it was consumers who could call the shots for change by their greener choices and purchasing power.
Jenny Morisetti’s talk concerned the interior of our homes, a talk she gave to Planet Shaftesbury in June. She elaborated on Alan Mash’s speech by explaining how we can improve the efficiency of energy use but particularly the health of our homes. She pointed out the dangers of certain modern building materials because of chemical emissions and advocated the purchase of environmentally friendly products: hence locally produced wood, plywood and straw board, rubber or cork flooring, non-chemical paint and natural fibre fabrics for curtaining, bedding and carpets. She reminded us of environmentally friendly cleaning and cosmetic products, water-saving practices and the upcycling of clothes along with a number of other suggestions.
Jenny Morisetti is very keen that we all engage with The Dorset Green Living Project (https://www.sustainabledorset.org/green-living-project/) which encourages neighbours and communities via positive actions to work together on projects to reduce our carbon footprint and to share knowledge, resources and skills. Project and recruitment co-ordinator, Rachel Lamb, would be interested in anyone willing to create household groups of 6-8 people who could work through one of the free manuals designed to help one another reduce our carbon emissions. Incentives and benefits include how much money can be saved from such practices. Rachel can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Is anyone in Shaftesbury interested in forming such a group?
The last speaker was Anna Pelly who is a mentor for Health Creation, based in Bath. She gave a talk about the impact of adverse environmental factors on personal health, describing the increase in various physical diseases and illnesses, allergies, obesity and diabetes, as well as mental and emotional conditions like stress, depression, addiction and loneliness. The Health Creation programme offers individuals a means of uncovering what the environmental factors are which influence our health and wellbeing or lack of it. Trained mentors and counsellors assist people to examine the choices they make about their lifestyle and diet, their relationships and in fact all aspects of our lives. (See https://www.healthcreation.co.uk/)
There was a short break after the speeches followed by a panel made up of the speakers to take questions from the meeting. On the panel was also the Deputy Head Girl of Sturminster Newton High School, Reshide Sladunova, who talked about her school’s environmental activities.