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Choices 18(2). Thinking About People & Nature in Times of War – case of Ukraine

Choices 18(2). Thinking About People & Nature in Times of War – case of Ukraine

May 15, 2022

Ece caught up with Alla Ljungman with whom we first spoke back in February at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. We talked about birds, agriculture, energy technologies, what the Ukrainian Environment Ministry and others are doing, and a whale in the Pacific

It is clear that the impact of war on the environment is not just on the battlefield or the immediately affected countries but the whole world - from migrating birds to global movement of goods and cost of such movement. European Union's decision to minimise oil and gas imports from Russia will mean more tanker movement from elsewhere; decline in fertilizer / raw material provision from Russia will affect food production costs. To understand and want to reduce such impacts and costs of how we deal with war is not about not dealing with war. But perhaps solutions that will reduce costs lie elsewhere - like consume less in the first place through insulation, reduced meat consumption, eating locally and seasonally. These are all acts of defiance! 

The whale - shipping lane visualisation Ece mentions is here: - of course this is not conclusive, timing is not clear for example. and maybe whales like chasing / being chased by tankers. There were a lot of comments on the Linked In post Ece saw. But she still feels sad about it. 

Choice 20. Biodiversity and Us

Choice 20. Biodiversity and Us

April 25, 2022

Did you know corals call out for the new spoors to land on them?

Did you know ecologists predicted pandemics like COVID19 before most of us even heard of the word pandemic?

Policy makers talk about the dual crises of climate change and nature – its loss, degradation and pollution.

We talked about climate change quite a bit on this podcast in terms of how we heat our homes, how / what we drive and daily updates from the Conference of Parties for the Climate Change Convention that took place in November 2021 in Glasgow.

We also talked about nature – how we produce our food, how we can reduce polluting our air and water.

But as we said in the last episode when talking about adapting to climate change – it is really silly to think about climate change and nature as if they are different issues.

In this episode we are joined by Kate Jones, who is a Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity at University College London. We talk about well ecology and biodiversity and the intricate links between the state of nature, the state of climate and human health and wellbeing, and the new centre she will be leading at UCL called People & Nature - creating a promising opportunity for many to work together for the benefit of all, bats and all.

Demystifying Expertise 11: Building People Together through Science: Tamar Hagopian Schlekat

Demystifying Expertise 11: Building People Together through Science: Tamar Hagopian Schlekat

April 9, 2022

In this episode, we speak to Tamar Hagopian Schlekat, MSPH, the Executive of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), North America.

She talks to us about her journey, from being an environmental consultant, helping clients use science to solve environmental and regulatory challenges, to becoming a manager and enabler of cross-disciplinary science to facilitate problem-solving, in the not-for-profit sector.

She tells us about her passion for bringing together experts in different disciplines, creating synergy, to promote science-based decision-making. She also talks about her successes in the past, vision for the future, and her strategy for breaking down projects and proposals into their costs and potential impacts, in order to choose those that will effect the greatest change.

Choice 19. Adapting to our Changing Climate

Choice 19. Adapting to our Changing Climate

March 21, 2022

Did you know the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet?

That depletion makes nature (and hence us humans) vulnerable to climate change.

Any investment in nature is investment in adaptation but where do we start?

On 28th February 2022, IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published its report on impacts of climate change, our vulnerabilities to it and how we can adapt.

They issued a stark warning that climate change is already happening and humans have already caused irreversible changes to nature. They also made unflinchingly clear that we are running out of time to avert catastrophic change, and to ensure that our planet remains liveable. These are stark and dramatic words, by mostly scientists, who are not given to dramatic statements.

In this episode we want to talk about what this means for our planet, our health and our wallets, as the strap line of our podcast says. Also, supported by this information, how can we make better decisions for our households, businesses and policies?

Perhaps most importantly, can we adapt to climate change in a way that creates a greener, cleaner and kinder world?

Evidence so far that adaptation works so we have every reason to talk about risks and actions to address them.

We are joined today by Kathryn Brown OBE, who is the Director of Climate Change and Evidence for the Wildlife Trusts in the UK. She has been working in this area for almost 20 years - the last 10 with the UK Climate Change Committee and before then on international negotiations and carbon budgets as well as adaptation for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

- know your carbon, Kathryn says

- don't buy peat compost

- write to your MP, visit their surgery, talk to them / ask them about climate change...are they asking questions against the Net Zero strategy? Why?! 

- join your local Wildlife Trusts and other NGOs and campaigns!

Choice 18. Thinking about people and nature in times of war - case of Ukraine (1)

Choice 18. Thinking about people and nature in times of war - case of Ukraine (1)

March 6, 2022

Our Ukrainian guest Alla Ljungman talks about how Ukrainians were increasingly empowered and engaged in environmental issues

Did you know Ukraine supplies grain to the world - 12% of the wheat for example?

War stalls progress and process but people continue to collaborate and will return to land

For what Europeans can do, see Jill Duggan's post for Environment Defense Fund Europe

Welcome to the first of our episodes on war and the environment and Ukraine.

We debated a lot whether to do an episode on Ukraine. After all there have been wars going on all over the world all the time with grave consequences for the lives and livelihoods of people and the environment. Would talking about Ukraine now mean we didn’t care about the others?

Definitely not.

But at a time when environment was gaining such mainstream attention, we felt it important we continue to talk about nature. And talk about what was, is and will be good. 

We also felt it important to talk about war and how its impacts can be minimised and cleaned up - especially as others want to push nature into “not now” “important but not a priority” category... or even try to convince us that as our grain supply from Ukraine is at risk, food security should become more important than bees and butterflies. Bu we want to remind them bees and butterflies = food security.

We have a couple of episodes lined up on biodiversity and climate change. And we are trying to bring other guests to talk about war and the environment. 

On this episode, we are joined by Alla Ljungman who is originally from Dnipro, now based in Washington DC and is an expert on energy policy working in particular on renewable energy projects.

Here is a list of campaigns and charities you can support. As we learn about more we will add them here - 

British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal 

Disaster Emergency Committee - which also has a campaign for Afghanistan

Choice 17. Net Zero Banking with Dr Sarah Kemmitt

Choice 17. Net Zero Banking with Dr Sarah Kemmitt

February 15, 2022

What is Net Zero banking?

What is your bank doing about climate change? Not just their own emissions, but also the emissions they facilitate?

What does it have to do with you? Have you heard about green mortgages, green  loans and investments?

In previous episodes, we talked quite a bit about how we can spend our money on a variety of things, from as little as a re-usable mask, to as large as installing a heat pump or buying an electric vehicle.

But it’s just as, if not more, important to talk about how our hard-earned cash works for us, and for others.

In this episode, we talk about where we keep our money – in particular banks, and their environmental impact, behaviour and influence…

To talk about banking, we are joined by the most unlikely banker – or not really a banker – Dr Sarah Kemmitt. Sarah is one of those wonderful examples of a career wanderer - from a PhD in Ecology, to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, via Bank of England, and many more stops.

She talked to us about the Net Zero Banking Alliance and Make Money Matter 

We learn about how banks and other investors are responsible for not only their operational greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts, but also those they finance or facilitate through their investments. 

We also learn how, as individuals putting our money in banks, we have a right to enquire about banks' performance - what they invest in, what they divest from, what pledges they make and how they put those pledges into action. 

Finally, Sarah ends the podcast speaking about the power of asking the right questions....that seems to be half the battle. 

Demystifying Expertise 10: Building Communities through Theatre - Angie Pena Arenas

Demystifying Expertise 10: Building Communities through Theatre - Angie Pena Arenas

January 19, 2022

Angie came to the UK, from Colombia, when she was 5 years old. She worked her way through youth theatre (a clear argument for good value for public money!), studying drama at University of East Anglia, and recently culminating in creating plays that make the distant and difficult relevant here and now. 

We talked about how the current discourse around climate change could be divisive and how listening to what individuals care about can help make better policies. She makes a great point for strategic thinking for public policy - when everything is an emergency it's too late to prioritise. If you know something may happen, plan for it! 

Angie is working with young people at Company Three. She recently wrote Are You Ready?  which was staged in the Good COP Bad COP festival organised by the Rising Tides environmental theatre company to coincide with COP26. 

If you'd like to try your hand at playwriting and use it for communicating about climate change, check out the monthly online workshops Climate Acts by Write Now Berlin

Choices 16. One Thing in 2022!

Choices 16. One Thing in 2022!

January 2, 2022

Back at the start of 2021 we promised ourselves and each other to improve 'one thing' in our reduce our environmental impacts. 

Listen to our update on how we got on, and our "one things" for 2022!

Happy New Year! 

Demistifying Expertise 9.Oceans to farms: Denise Manker

Demistifying Expertise 9.Oceans to farms: Denise Manker

December 27, 2021

Hear about how a scientist manages to have so many patents to her name and still stays interested and fresh in her thinking.

Dr Denise Manker speaks to us about how to use science and technology to solve our problems. But even as a scientist, she says facts don’t change people’s minds, emotions do – making evidence relevant but also revealing the emotions and passion of the scientist who talks about the evidence. The scientist as a human. Expertise demystified.  

Listen to her and let us know what you think of her approach to using science. 

Choices 15 Festive Drinks

Choices 15 Festive Drinks

December 17, 2021

Season's Greetings come with a tipple or two...

What where do those tipples come from and what impacts do they have?

We talked about the festive / holiday season last year, in season 1. Not being able to meet up with family due to COVID made us focus more on the true gifts of spending time, showing love and support rather than spending money, buying the next toy, indulging in festive spending perhaps even beyond our means.

All that is still valid this year - including COVID (omicron) postponing in-person reunions. 

But wherever we are, at least in the UK, there is an increase in alcohol consumption during this time of the year.  They do say ‘don’t drink to drown your sorrows, they know how to swim’ and the same applies to considering (if not worrying) about our environmental impacts. 

As usual, we are not interested in telling anyone to drink or not, or what to drink. We want to explore how to become more discerning customers - what to look for when trying to buy alcoholic drinks? Is it better to buy local, if their production is dirtier? How about packaging? How about certification? 

Again as usual, let's use the power of our enquiry and money - what information should we demand from producers and retailers? 

And about much more - all about wine, and whisky, but with lessons for all other tipples too, we spoke to Dagmar Droogsma

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