Climate change is arguably the most important issue of our times. Communicating that message, and making people aware of what they can do to combat climate change, is a major part of the solution.
A national UK Speaker Network has been set up by Peter Hale of Climate Concern UK. It is called the Climate Change Speaker Network.
Peter explained the origins and purpose of the network:
"The Network started from my realisation that a way of getting in front of decent numbers of people to speak about climate change, was to make contact with the numerous societies which book speakers for their regular meetings. I have now personally given approx 40 local talks in this way during the last two years, mainly to ‘senior’ people. I soon realised that most people who join groups and societies are retired! There is usually some good discussion.
"I had started a campaign, Climate Concern UK, in mid-2004, with the intention of helping to increase public understanding of climate change issues and the dangers of our greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, a few local contacts and I manned a stall in several town centres in the North East of England on Saturdays, but the number of people who stopped to talk were disappointingly few.
"I was also aware that some climate change campaigners had set up public meetings but that they were often poorly attended. In early 2005, the secretary of a U3A group in my own village asked me to give a talk. Unsure whether I had the nerve for public speaking, I prepared a PowerPoint-based presentation and showed this to an audience of twelve, followed by questions. This felt good and I went on to make the contacts with various local societies; Women’s Institutes, Rotary Clubs and others, finding that many were willing to book me for a talk.
"Then in early 2006, I happened across an American web site with a ‘Climate Change Speaker Network’. It hit me that I could try to set up something similar in the UK, to encourage other existing and potential speakers to obtain talks in their local communities, as well as having a listing to make it easier for anyone wanting a talk to find a local speaker. To search for speakers, I managed to obtain national publicity through some of the large environment campaign groups' newsletters; this was successful and the web site now shows over 80 speakers around the UK."
Peter’s big project at the moment is to obtain maximum publicity for the network, so that people know it exists and that speakers can be found and booked.
All the speakers can explain and discuss the main climate change issues. Some also have specialist knowledge and include environmental consultants, renewable energy specialists, naturalists, Arctic/Antarctic visitors, teachers, lecturers, Christian campaigners, writers and journalists. Audiences are invited to ask questions, make their own points, and enter into discussion.
Peter said, "I would ask anyone interested in a climate change talk or discussion, and who belongs to a group which invites speakers to their meetings, to pass on the details of the Climate Change Speaker Network to their Speaker Finder".
How do you think the Climate Change Speaker Network is tuned in to the needs of Green Seniors?
"There are many societies whose membership consists of mainly elderly people and which book speakers for their regular meetings - the Climate Change Speaker Network can be referred to for availability of local speakers. Talk content varies for different speakers"
How can individual Green Seniors become part of your network?
"Speakers have been advised of the many community groups comprising mainly older people, and have been asked to make contact with local groups, although many may not have the time to do this yet."
If you have experience in speaking to groups on environmental issues, Green Seniors would recommend that you contact the Network directly. See the website for details.
What do you think are the three most important things that an individual can do to meet the global environmental challenge?
"As it happens, I was recently asked by a lady in an elderly audience for ONE thing - I gave three. These were:
1) Over 70% of the energy used in the average home is for heating, so:
- Ensure that your building is well insulated and draught proofed.
- If you feel cool, before reaching for the heating controls, put on a thicker jumper.
- The best thing you can do to help reduce emissions related to electricity is to change to a green electricity account (see http://www.greenelectricity.org/ if you live in the UK)
2) It is vital to consider your consumption. Everything we consume generates carbon, from a flap-jack to a flight. In the one world where we live anything we consume beyond eating a healthy diet and providing warm, dry shelter is ‘luxury consumption' rather than 'necessity consumption'.
3) We need to act now."