You often might not be able to see or smell air pollution, but it would be difficult for you not to have seen it in the news recently. Air pollution has been linked to illness and premature death. A recent report examining the impact of exposure to air pollution across the course of a lifetime estimated that in the UK, the air pollution we breathe causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths per year. The impacts of polluted air are worse for the most vulnerable people. Air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), have been found to damage lung development in children and worsen existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, particularly in older people. Furthermore, air pollution disproportionately affects the poorest in society who tend to live in areas near main roads with higher levels of air pollution. Continue reading
by Joseph Hirst
As a Geography BSc undergraduate, the natural environment holds a very important place in my heart. I wouldn’t study it otherwise! This love for the environment isn’t recent either- I was part of my secondary school’s environment team throughout my time there (including 6th form). It was no real surprise to see that I’d join the Geography Department Sustainability Champions team at King’s when I heard about its existence. Given my history, I was surprised to hear that much of the work of the sustainability champions scheme focused on the sustainable development goals, something I knew little about! These goals aren’t explicitly taught in the Geography BSc but, as I grew to learn, these goals are incredibly important for everyone – from the international community to a single undergraduate student. Continue reading
I am currently enjoying…. MSc Climate Change: Environment, Policy and Science. Arriving at King’s from a Bachelor Arts in Communication, yet continuously passionate about protecting the planet with volunteering work in several charities, like the Jane Goodall Institute Italia, this program has opened a whole new way of looking at this topic. Continue reading
Melanie is the newly elected Geography student representative for the year 1 BSc programme.
I chose Geography… because I am truly passionate about the subject. Unlike other subjects, Geography is broad and involves not only the world around us, but also how we influence it directly. I particularly enjoy studying both the physical aspect of the subject such as glaciers as well as the human side, in particular sustainability. Continue reading
By Becky Murphy @Christian Aid and @Kings College London
Image; © Becky Murphy, Christian Aid
“I am because we are” (John Mbiti)
It’s mid-October in rural north Kenya. The LPRR project has travelled to Marsabit, Kenya, near the Ethiopia boarder. Here, the LPRR project implements a six-day co-developed workshop to put the LPRR approach into practice alongside both Christian Aid and CAFOD’s local partners (PACIDA, MIONET, CIFA and Caritas Maralal, Marsabit and Isiolo). After two years of research and work, the team were very excited to start putting findings into practice in Kenya and compare how it might work with the pilot conducted in Myanmar in August. Continue reading
Emilia is the newly elected student rep for Year 1 BA Geographers.
I chose Geography because it explains the contemporary world through every possible lens. It connects the threads between the systems and spaces we interact in and lets me be a part of our global network. I am particularly interested in the cultures of urban spaces; how the city we live in can shape our identity and how we shape the city. Geography provides me with a broad palette of topics that are pressing issues right now, like the geopolitics at the Arctic or China’s growing hegemony in African countries. Continue reading
How to build resilience during emergency response: piloting the START DEPP Linking Preparedness and Response in Emergency Contexts (LPRR) approach in Myanmar
By Becky Murphy @Christian Aid and @Kings College London
Image: Credit to Christian Aid and their Rohingya Crises Appeal: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies
On Friday 18 August 2017, the LPRR team headed out to Myanmar to launch a new, practical approach to localisation.
After two years of research and work, the team were very excited to start putting findings into practice in both Kayin and Rakhine in Myanmar. However, we were also a little wary, knowing that we were not going into the easiest of contexts to roll out a new approach to humanitarian response. Continue reading
It is important not to over-react to the news that Donald Trump wishes to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement and seek to renegotiate a ‘fairer deal’ for America. The wailing and grieving around the media that has accompanied yesterday’s announcement is exactly the sort of reaction that Trump is seeking to provoke. It plays to his sense of self-importance and it fundamentally mis-reads the relationship between the Paris Agreement and the climate system.
The BBC’s top-level news headline for today on their web-site has been “Global dismay at US climate deal pull out”. World leaders, including Barack Obama, have lined up to denounce Trump’s decision and media headlines proclaim “A crime against the future of people and the planet”. Other commentators express concern about a set-back for the Agreement itself – a “devastating failure of historic proportions” according to Senator Chuck Schumer — and what it will mean for the future of the world’s climate.
This set of reactions may be understandable, but they play straight into the hands of Donald Trump and his advocates. They reaffirm his mission of self-importance, of fighting against the establishment, his self-belief that what he says and does matters more than anything anyone else says and does.
Overstating the significance of Trump’s announcement also mis-reads the nature of the Paris Agreement and its efficacy in ‘governing’ the world’s climate. The Paris Agreement is already a voluntary arrangement of self-determined and self-policed intentions to reduce greenhouses gas emissions from different national jurisdictions. There are no penalties, no sanctions for states which fail to meet their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
Even if, following Trump’s announcement, the USA now fails to secure its own NDC – and this if far from certain for reasons below – the projections of how this might alter the average global temperature by 2100 reveal the sleight of hand. Projections suggest a warming of about 3.6°C (without the USA in Paris) rather than 3.3°C (with the USA in Paris), a reduction of just 0.3°C and well-within the random noise in the system. The fact is, all the NDCs declared by nations leave the world well short of the declared goal of 2 degrees of warming, let alone the aspirational target of 1.5°C.
We should not fall for the hype of defenders of the Paris Agreement and its own self-pronounced historic status. Neither therefore should we despairingly denounce Trump for declaring he will remove the USA from the Agreement. Such reactions give too much weight to the actions of one man to shape the world and they place too much faith in the Paris Agreement to effect change in societies around the world.
This is not a defeatist position to hold. And I am certainly no defender of Donald Trump. It is rather a position that recognises the limited powers that Trump holds over his own economy and the limited effectiveness of any single global treaty to “govern” the world’s climate. What matters far more are the thousand and one sites around the world where change is taking place, the thousands of different political actors, social movements and loci of innovation and change which are shaping the trajectory of future world development.
For sure, some of these have taken inspiration from the Paris Agreement. But many have not and are driven by their own internal logics: new business start-ups and commercial opportunity; cultural movements for enhanced well-being and healthy life-styles; effective city planning to deliver cleaner air and efficient mobility; moral imperatives to deliver improved energy, health and education services for the world’s left behinds; and so on. These developments have a momentum and a motivational force of their own that do not stand or fall on the febrile politics of the Paris Agreement, even less on the whims of an American President.
Rather than obsess about Donald Trump’s “will-he-won’t-he” games it is far better to look on the up-side of what is already happening around the world and to lend ones shove to many of these changes underway. We should read Trump’s announcement in a different way: paradoxically, it will invigorate and make more determined many of the individuals, organisations and movements alluded to above.
One man does not control the world’s climate.
Mike Hulme, 2 June 2017