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News / Climate change is in our children’s hands

Meteorologists Alex Hill and Heather Reid at the centre of media attention on Thursday - Photo: ShetNews

TWO former TV weather presenters said they had faith the younger generation help sort out the world’s climate problems during a visit to Shetland on Thursday.

Heather ‘The Weather’ Reid and the Met Office’s chief adviser to the Scottish government Alex Hill were the stars at Shetland Aerogenerators’ first climate conference Change.

Reid and Hill discussed climate threats with Shetland’s secondary school children following a screening of the movie Chasing Ice on Thursday, with a second planned on Friday.

They are also hosting a question and answer session at Mareel on Thursday night, starting at 7pm with the showing of the film Thin Ice.

Responding to climate change sceptics, Hill said he had no doubt that man’s actions were having a detrimental impact on the world’s climate.

“Ninety seven per cent of reputable climate scientists think it is the human output that made the difference. Scepticism is required for good science, denial isn’t,” he said.

“Science develops because we learn. This is still a learning process and will be for quite some time.”

Reid added that one area where scientists were adding new knowledge almost on a daily basis were the oceans.

“Two thirds of the earth is covered by oceans, it has a capacity to absorb carbon dioxides, it has the capacity to absorb and to release heat,” she said.

“We still have a lot to learn about how the oceans work and what impact that has on our lives, but it is becoming apparent that they are a crucial part of the jigsaw.”

She said she was “amazed” at how technology savvy the younger generation was, and that gave her hope.

“Young people are well ahead of us in embracing technology and communication. They have awareness about the rest of the world and about our responsibilities, which I never had when I was their age.

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“I have certainly seen that in Shetland too, so I am quite optimistic about the next generation.”

Hill added: “These kids think much more widely than I ever did at that age. It took me 40 years to reach the breadth of knowledge some of these kids have.

“The important thing for me is that they recognise the interdependencies in the world in a way that we never did when we were young.”

He said that even though Scotland’s only produced 1/700th of the world’s carbon emissions, it was influential because of the action it was taking on the issue.

“That is a fantastic place to start from, and perhaps two generations from now people looking back will be able to say ‘we’ve solved the problem’ – that’s what I hope for.”

Shetland Aerogenerators director Angus Ward said the company wanted to encourage people to engage with one of the biggest issues of modern times.

As part of the event they commissioned a web-based app which shows how Shetland is shrinking with rising sea levels. The app is available at: http://changeshetland.com/

They also commissioned Lerwick textile artist Jo Jack who has created Where 2 Waves Meet, a visual arts project she hopes to take to local schools and youth clubs over coming months.

You can find out more about the project at: www.facebook.com/ChangeShetland

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