Name: Andrew Gorton
What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?
Moving to the countryside from London, then studying the environment with the OU
What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?
As mentioned above studying with the OU, and hoping to get a degree in Environmental Science.
What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
Thinking of working as a volunteer with BTCV in my local area.
Tell your story in your own words.
This is an answer to my final assignment question in the OU course I am studying:
At the beginning of this course, the only environmental issue I was really aware of was that of global warming. I had a rough idea of what was causing it, (CO2), and what dangers global warming might cause, both locally and worldwide, but no deep understanding of the issue. Of issues such as biodiversity and conservation, I had no knowledge at all. I felt that, apart from activities such as recycling household waste or travelling by public transport rather than by car, there was not a lot I could do to help preserve the environment. I believed that only governments and large organisations had real power to do anything. I was certainly unaware of the range of measures that could be taken by individuals through to NGOs, the private sector and governments, although it seemed that many governments often lack the political will to take action.
After completing this course, the breadth and depth my knowledge of environmental issues has increased dramatically. I have gained a new perspective on the environment both in my local area, as well as on a national and international scale, and I am keen to find out more and to take a more active role in these concerns. One activity I can do is to reduce my carbon footprint by buying locally produced food, and trying to reduce energy consumption. The food issue is an easy behavioural change to make, in that I can buy food from independent local butchers and grocers for example. This has the advantages of knowing where most of the food comes from, and that it is not heavily packaged. Another behavioural change is to have dry and/or fresh food, and not rely too heavily on frozen goods, reducing electrical consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions in the process. Reducing my energy consumption needs behavioural and technological approaches. I use energy saving light bulbs all over the house, and do not use heating or lighting in seldom used parts of the house. I have also considered the possibility of renewable energy, such as solar heating panels.
In my opinion, global warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases is by far the most pressing concern. Global warming has the capacity to do the most damage in terms of heat waves, flooding and land degradation such as desertification. These will have a dramatic effect on humans, especially in poorer regions of the world. The greenhouse effect can be reversed, or at least mitigated, although it sometimes seems an insurmountable problem. Another concern is the loss of rainforests in South America. Not only does this lead to reduction of large reservoirs that can absorb atmospheric carbon, there is also the loss of biodiversity. This will dramatically affect both the livelihoods and way of life of many indigenous peoples, as well as the loss of plants and animals that could be of immense scientific, medical and commercial value to the world at large.
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