By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
PUPILS from four junior high schools showed ecological films to chief scientific adviser to the Scottish government Anne Glover this week as part of a sustainable development and climate change project.
Introducing the four short films, made by pupils from Aith, Scalloway, Mid Yell and Baltasound, convener Sandy Cluness told the audience it was an important time in the history of the earth and something had to be done about global warming.
Although Tavish Scott MSP said in his introduction that he found science at school “dry”, Professor Glover aimed to enthuse the pupils by telling them: “You can change the planet.”
Aith’s film examined the fuel used in pupils’ homes; Mid Yell’s had a panel of local people discussing global warming and discovered that fishermen were catching species such as Ray’s bream and lamprey, associated with warmer waters; Baltasound’s looked at flooding and coastal erosion and the effect on wildlife; and Scalloway’s had wildlife including ponies, sheep, seagulls and crabs telling humans how they saw the problem.
Professor Glover declared herself delighted with the creativity shown in the short films. She then gave a presentation to the audience which painted a gloomy picture of the future – even if we cut all carbon dioxide emissions immediately, the damage already done will remain. It will be difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and even if we try to decrease emissions, population growth and economic growth could make them increase.
This would affect us all, she said. If the Greenland ice cap were to melt – and once it got to a certain point the process would be irreversible – sea levels could rise by six metres, causing disastrous flooding.
We have to adapt, she said, indicating that she was confident technology would provide the answer, possibly through a variety of renewable sources such as wind, wave and tidal power, and Scotland could take the lead.
Meanwhile she gave some practical advice – we could share cars and opt for soft drinks in cans, which can be recycled, rather than plastic bottles which cannot.
However there was some good news – the hole in the ozone layer was replenishing thanks to the banning of CFCs, and she was optimistic the future generation would have solutions to the problems of climate change.
Speaking afterwards, Professor Glover said: “The kids will be annoying us [about conserving energy]. The future is in their hands, it is for them to tell us what to do.”
She said Scotland was very lucky in having no lack of qualified science teachers and an increasing number of young people wanting to study biological sciences. “We need to ensure the teaching of science is relevant and fun and not to deny experimentation, we must make sure kids have the opportunity to do experiments in class.”
The festival was organised by policy unit graduate placement Jennifer Nicolson, who said the project built on the work already done by entreprise officer Beryl Smith and environmental management officer and Eco-school co-ordinator Mary Lisk, would count towards the schools’ Eco status and in the case of Baltasound and Mid Yell, getting their first Eco flags. Ms Nicolson said it would help the pupils to see science as “interesting, not geeky – events like this promote sustainable development and climate change, and show that it is happening here and now and not somewhere else”.