Bugbears: Aaron and Clare's advice about the environment
I really don’t like to see rubbish that people have left on the ground or on the beach. Why do they do it and how can we stop it?
Aaron: I don't like that either! People do it because they are not thinking it through. If they thought about it, they'd know that dropped rubbish ends up polluting the sea or clogging up drains. The best way to deal with it is to set a good example yourself and among your friends. Don't let people around you pollute. Also, you could organise a group to clean up rubbish from a local park. Find out what local environmental groups are getting up to in your area and ask your parents if you can join them!
Clare: Interestingly, our beaches and streets are in much better condition than even ten years ago. And that’s because there are stricter rules and regulations – with hefty fines and penalties for all who break them. Recycling bins are far more available in the street than before and dropping litter is something that is frowned upon.
I am worried about tsunamis and hurricanes because I'm scared one will happen to us.
Clare: Firstly let’s tackle tsunamis – I would never say that it couldn’t happen on our shores in the UK, although the chances are incredibly slim. That’s because they tend to occur in regions of the world that are vulnerable to major earthquakes, such as South East Asia, or the Pacific, and so we are not anywhere close to a fault line that could generate one.
Hurricanes – in the UK we don’t get hurricanes, but we can inherit the remains of such a storm from the Caribbean. These ‘ex tropical storms’ are normally well forecast and take a few days to travel to the UK from across the Atlantic, by which time they will have lost their power and you will have had lots of warning.
My worry is that some beautiful animals, like tigers, are being hunted down and will soon be extinct because of humans. Is it possible that this could happen?
Clare: There are strict conservation laws for protecting large creatures such as tigers or elephants, and they are much more protected across the world than in past times. Although there are always, sadly, exceptions to the rule, the penalty for poaching such animals is massive.
Aaron: Loads of governments and organisations are aware of this problem and are trying to help by protecting species and creating national parks where they can be safe. If you're concerned, you could contact one of these organisations to see what you might be able to do, whether that's signing a petition, writing letters to important people, or learning more about it.
I worry that humans will destroy the natural habitats of wonderful animals so that they don’t have anywhere to live, like in South America where they cut down rainforests. I wish that everyone would just look after the world.
Aaron: Fortunately more and more people are thinking like you, though there is still a lot of work to be done. Lots of people don't understand that the things that we do can help those habitats by choosing the kinds of foods we eat, or the products we buy. By educating yourself about these kinds of things, you can take some control by making better choices and then help others to do so too.
Clare: We all have a part to play. Look around you and see if there is a place close to you that needs a little help to be restored to its natural habitat. Green spaces are vital for the well-being of a community, as they let nature flourish and can help to take excess carbon dioxide out of the air. Enjoy doing your bit and by doing so you will set an important example.
I worry that people are lazy and go in cars and buses to places that they could easily walk to. I also worry when people leave lights on in rooms when they are not even using the room – it’s such a waste of electricity.
Aaron: Some of these things are worrying, but take heart! In the 1980s when it was discovered that some chemicals were affecting the ozone layer, the whole world got together to stop producing those chemicals, and now they're all illegal. A little at a time, the same thing is happening with lightbulbs that use a lot of energy (they'll be outlawed in the EU soon).
Clare: I admire your concern for such important issues. Keep on with your own campaign, arm yourself with facts and figures and get out there and tell friends and family. For example, tell them that switching to walking saves tonnes of CO2 through a year. Exhaust fumes emit many harmful gases, like particulates and nitrogen and sulphur dioxides that are a major cause of asthma. You could badger your local MP for more public transport that uses cleaner energy, like hybrids and electric vehicles.
I’m worried that if we keep using coal and oil our earth might be polluted with chemicals.
Clare: Pollution is one of the biggest concerns for environmentalists around the world, and coal and oil are up there as some of the worst offenders. Switching to alternatives is the key, such as forms of energy that do not produce such harmful by-products.
Aaron: You can play your part by finding out what you can do locally; perhaps convincing your parents to use a green energy tariff (where your home is supplied by solar or wind energy) and making sure you reduce energy use. By learning about what you can do, you can worry less and help change things for the better.
Clare: Also think about how you could contribute to new innovation in alternative forms of energy, through pursuing science subjects at school and perhaps eventually becoming a specialist yourself.
I'm worried about how much paper we use. I think cutting down trees is really bad for the environment and not many people recycle, they just throw things in the bin.
Aaron: While it is true that people
may not be recycling enough, the good news is that these days it's really easy
to get recycled paper or paper from sustainable forests. You just need to check
the label of where the paper comes from (everything from writing paper, to
envelopes to loo role!).
If you're worried about this, perhaps you could check what paper is used at home or at school and spread some awareness for change? Usage is important too. Always consider whether or not something needs to be printed, and think of creative ways to use scrap paper. You can set a good example, and help other people to follow!
How can I save water?
Aaron: It's a good idea to save water, and there are lots of ways to do it. A great way is to have a water butt (a bit like a water tank) in the garden to collect rainwater for all sorts of things from washing floors to watering plants. Also small things like not leaving the water on when you're brushing your teeth, and taking showers instead of baths.
Clare: You could also insist that your parents fix any dripping taps. A dripping tap can waste 5500 litres of water a year. Always use full loads on your dishwasher and washing machine and remember the ECO option. Fill a jug of water and place in the fridge so you don’t need to run the tap until the water gets cold enough. Never fill a kettle full if it’s not necessary.
How can I save the planet?
Aaron: Unfortunately, it's pretty
impossible for one person to save the planet (well, Superman, maybe). That's
why we all need to come together to treat our planet better. The best way to do
this is to educate yourself about what's going on with the environment, and
find out what you can do on a local
Check out local environmental organisations. There are loads of ways to help, from cleaning up a local park to campaigning for environmental change. Get your friends to come along too, and all together, we can make the planet a better place.
Clare: Saving the planet starts at home, in your school and your local community. Voice your concerns about the environment. Always be aware of how you use your own environment (food we eat, clothes we wear and the disposal of waste). Be forearmed and learn about what’s happening in your world. Get involved in local groups that promote good environmental practice. Make a difference! Be brilliant!