Think climate change is just a problem affecting coral reefs or people living in low-lying Pacific islands? Think again…
A new series of documentaries being launched on 25 February will look at how climate change is going to affect Cornwall, but also offer inspirational stories about the great projects happening around the county to tackle it.
The films, made by the charity Cornwall Climate Care will tell stories across a range of themes including housing, energy, transport, farming and health, and will be made available online, for community screenings and for schools.
The first film, Under the Surface, focuses on Cornwall’s marine environment and how, without many of us even noticing, climate change is already affecting species that depend on the sea for their survival.
One of the positive stories featured focuses on the company ARC Marine, set up by divers James Doddrell and Tom Birbeck to repair some of the damage they often came across in marine habitats, caused by bottom trawling and underwater construction.
Their company is making carbon neutral reef cubes as a nature inclusive design option for restoring devastated reefs, and as an alternative to the carbon intensive concrete blocks usually used to protect underwater infrastructure. This could be hugely important as the UK aims to massively expand its offshore wind farms.
The cube arrangements, which when submerged quickly become a safe haven for huge numbers of marine fauna and flora, are also being trialled as a means of protecting our coasts from increasing storm damage, as well as for propagating corals and mangroves to help restore tropical reefs and islands.
Each 30-minute episode of Cornwall’s Climate Stories is presented by a different relevant person, and this one is narrated by Claire Wallerstein, who spent eight years running the Cornish beach-cleaning group Rame Peninsula Beach Care (RPBC).
The film follows her as she interviews marine experts studying creatures ranging from tiny plankton up to grey seals and basking sharks – and learns that the success of groups such as RPBC in highlighting the issue of marine plastic pollution may have had an unintended consequence.
Claire said: “There’s so much awareness nowadays about the need to tackle plastic pollution – and rightly so. It is a huge problem and causes such obvious harm. But it’s only one part of the bigger and more complex issue of climate change, which doesn’t seem to get so much attention.
“People may not think of climate change being much of a problem in Cornish seas. But what I found while making this film was that dramatic and surprising changes are happening right under our noses here too.”
Film director Bryony Stokes said: “Cornwall will be first in line to experience many of the impacts of climate change – from more severe Atlantic storms to sea level rise and eroding coasts. But what people may not know is that it is also blazing a trail for the rest of the country in the fight against climate change.
“There’s a huge range of exciting and pioneering work happening here – from the world’s first electric ferry to geothermal energy plants, from a project to turn cattle slurry into green fuel to the replanting of seagrass meadows and reintroduction of beavers to help prevent flooding.
“Businesses, communities and scientists all across Cornwall are doing incredible things to face up to the challenges coming our way. We hope these stories will give people a feeling of pride and hope – and motivate them to help tackle the climate crisis too.”
One key aim of the charity is to make its films available to all local secondary schools, along with teaching materials and resources.
A recent survey by the charity Teach the Future found that just four percent of pupils felt they knew a lot about climate change, while 75 percent of teachers said they did not have adequate training to teach this subject.
Watch the first film (from 26 February onwards) on the Cornwall Climate Care website.