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Jasons idea:

An editorial thought: Two programmes made me wonder if we need to change tack a little on
conservation and educational outreach, in particular our approach to communicating about
climate change. To simplify our message.
The first was Oceans: the Arctic, filmed about 8-9 years ago, and used by me earlier this
week to introduce my first year marine students to the Arctic ocean. The end of that
programme showed temperate habitats with species diversity spreading north and looking
relatively healthy.
The second was the last episode of Planet Earth II, on urban environments, with the last 10
minutes on initiatives to regreen urban environments.
In a week's time, we'll be hosting 2-3 days of activities on the British Science Week theme of
change - for us specifically, climate change. This is the biggest issue facing us all. Not
Brexit, not Trump, but anthropogenic climate change. I think it's important to educate on this
issue. However, it's a fiendishly difficult subject to teach and our focus for these events is to
teach about climate change through the use of positive messages and the use of impacts on
habitats. Above all, they will teach about the small corrective actions and behaviour changes
that lead to big impacts.
After seeing these two programmes, though, I can't help thinking that worldwide
conservation efforts need to be even more focussed, laser-like, on habitat and species
preservation, urban habitat space creation, regreening urban environments and rewilding.
I'm NOT for one minute suggesting not covering climate change or conceding defeat to
climate change sceptics. We still need to educate and reach out and convince the
population. Climate change sceptics should never be allowed to win.
Nor am I proposing something new: there are thousands of urban environment, rewilding,
regreening, and habitat and species preservation groups and organisations. They all do a
fantastic job.
What I AM suggesting is that perhaps ALL conservation groups need to coordinate their
efforts into that one message, told a thousand different ways, with a thousand different,
tailor-made stories. And that message should be one of positivity and hope, about protecting
and extending natural habitats.
The general public have a degree of compassion fatigue and we hit them with so many
different issues. We as an industry are beginning to realise that the negativity - and I
understand the reasons for that negativity - is turning the audience off.
Anthropogenic Climate Change is so long term, so intangible, so insidious, so difficult to
grasp that it's difficult to convince people of the need to change behaviours when the
evidence is so damned complicated.
However, the beneficial evidence of habitat preservation and habitat recreation to nature and
to human well-being is very tangible, comparatively quick to develop, easy to explain, and,
above all, positive to talk about. This is especially the case when paired with initiatives to use
nature to improve physical and mental health.
If populations can see the benefits of concerted efforts to develop habitats and increased
nature in urban spaces, they might be more convinced by action on climate change and the
need for their behaviour change. And these new habitats give species breathing spaces to
cope with climate change.
Educating and reaching out about one message, one behaviour at a time, might succeed
more than our present multifaceted approach.
And climate change, taught through the lens of its impact on natural habitats, can then still
be taught.
Just a thought... What are yours?