I spoke to my sister Wendy on the phone and told her about my first blog that mentioned our Nan. She said she would give it a read. I went on to tell her my next blog would be on COP28. She laughed and said “Oh, you believe in climate change now”. I said “of course” but my answer was a little hollow.

I gave this some thought. After the call, I realised my unsettled feeling was ‘yes I believed in climate change, but I did not understand climate change.’ (Not a good start for someone who is Climate & Ecology Ambassador and about to write a blog on the subject.)

I have tried to understand and ask questions but the replies I get back do not aid my understanding. Like, “it’s science” or “it’s real” or the best one – “don’t you believe in climate change?”. I want to know the nuts and bolts of this subject and be able to take part in the debate on the solutions of how to be ready for whatever bad events are coming my way.

To educate myself more, my next stop of course was YouTube and this is where I found out that whales keep their orifices closed until near the surface due to water pressure. Once near the surface they defecate. It makes the cloudy patch on the sea surface. Now before you think I have gone mad, one thing I have learnt when trying to educate myself on YouTube, is that good sources matter. The information about the whales comes from Sir David Anthony King who is founder and chair of The Centre for Climate Repair’ at Cambridge University.

I did a little more searching and I came across Sir David King talking to a Youtuber in a way that was very easy for me to understand. I cannot say everything on this particular YouTuber’s channel is accurate; but I trust David King, and this video is great. You can watch it yourself – Sir David King: “Global Heating: The Science and the Response” The Great Simplification #95 It is a little long, 1 hour and 49 minutes, but such a great starting point to learn the facts behind climate change.

These are some of the points that jumped out to me, and I look forward to learning more:

· The continued burning of fossil fuels is like watching an unfolding tragedy.
· Time is not on our side.
· We need greenhouse gases in our atmosphere to keep warm, just like being under a nice snug blanket! Yet if we keep adding more and more blankets, it gets to damn hot.
· The levels of greenhouse gases are already too high… We are seeing the result with extreme weather events now and it is going to get worse.

(If you start thinking about rising sea levels, it gets very worrying.)

In 2002, the British Met Office got to use the most powerful computer in the world (based in Japan). This allowed them to make predictions for the next 100 years. They can now test these predictions and they may be slightly out by one or two years, but they are proving to be correct. It makes you think that the Met Office know what’s coming in future years. These are not just numbers pulled out the air.

Sir David King’s group ‘The Climate Crisis Advisory Group’ have come up with four Rs

R – Reduce emissions

R – Remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere

R – Repair Damage

R – Resilience

So, getting back to the whales and the R for ‘removing greenhouse gases from our atmosphere’. It turns out that not only is this cloudy whale excrement good for feeding fish, but it also helps the ocean act as a carbon sink, sucking in carbon from the atmosphere. The only problem is the humans that came before us killed almost all the whales and used the oil from the whales to light their lamps and make soap.

So, one Idea is to use fake whale excrement held in place by rice husks and cover 2% of the world’s ocean. Not only will this suck in tons of carbon but will also help to bring live back into the oceans that have become devoid of fish, and we can even help increase the whale population.

A different project is to make the clouds over the Arctic Ocean whiter, so they reflect more sun light. This project is called “Refreeze the Arctic”. How can someone not find these projects super exciting and follow them every step of the way? Even if they fail, we will learn and move on to the next big thing. Now that’s what I call science.

Britain has been world leader in tackling climate change but the Government watchdog “The Climate Change Committee” says the backing for new oil and coal, airport expansion, and plans to slow progress on heat pumps means the UK has lost its leadership on climate issues.

I can see an unstoppable force that is building, and once it takes hold, it will scare governments across the world. I am not talking about climate change but normal people taking the time to educate themselves and uses the one power they have; the power to vote.

We must support groups like the UN with its COP conferences and politics matters, but I am not surprised that COP was too little and too late with the targets it has set. Also, science needs the public to get on board and be part of the conversation. Once we vote for change and demand change, it will come.

In my lifetime, young people have stood up and been part of the change. It may not always work out as good as you hope but it is good to know you tried and was part of the fight. I remember people power it felt powerful not to buy South African apples to protest against apartheid or the pop songs that challenged Section 28, the UK anti-gay legislation. I can feel another big awakening coming but this time the battle will be to stop climate change.

It was great fun to meet everyone who collected their free tree to plant at home and it shows that Chelmsford City Council is doing its part in reducing greenhouse gases. There were three different days across the district – I attended one of the days close to home in Compass Gardens, South Woodham Ferrers.

If you have a real Christmas tree this year, Farleigh Hospice has a great scheme to collect and recycle trees post-festivities. It raises money for them, so please register for a collection before it’s too late. I have just lost a good friend Alan to cancer and Farleigh Hospice were amazing, a real help when him and his family needed it – they came through. So, from me, a big thank you for all the work you do.

Happy New Year everyone.

Cllr Terry Sherlock