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Summer 2021: Hotter, Wetter, Stormier - Together

This summer has been momentous, if for no other reason than the publication of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thankfully, it comes with some small seeds of hope which could possibly be expressed in one ‘new’ Olympic word; “Together”.

The IPCC’s seismic report comes in the wake of a global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics, and closer to home, A Level and GCSE results like no other. The report clearly requires our unequivocal acceptance, deep consideration, and urgent action - no action is simply not an option!

The reality is that our world is becoming much hotter, wetter, and stormier. We know that climate change exacerbates inequalities, our challenge is in how we minimise this. How to act and finding the time to do so will be tough; the pressures already upon us will threaten our response. There are other numerous existential challenges we are currently facing - recovery from a global pandemic, drastic public and third sector budget cuts, increasing inequality, and a digital and technological revolution - all of which are driving further societal change. Oh, and that’s not to mention the day job - ensuring children, young people and their families are safe, healthy, and achieving.

Recent consultation with children and young people in my area revealed some stark messages. Amongst heightened fear, anxiety and concern, and increasing mental health issues, they have unequivocally stated (in some cases with some anger) that they want adult leaders to act now; to act decisively, and importantly to appropriately replace the negative “lost generation” rhetoric with realistic optimism. And this was before the IPCC report.

Whilst I recognise that dealing with climate change on the scale, and with the pace required, may be daunting for many leaders (and even now just too distant and just too unreal), my fear is a road to an environmental global disaster for our children that is not paved by climate deniers, but by inappropriate and unfair competition.

Like many of you, I have been enthralled and moved by the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. Together, these young athletes went faster, stronger, and higher (literally in the case of the high jump gold medalists), highlighting the wonders of camaraderie and the shear delights and power of togetherness and diversity.

What I have learned from the world’s fastest, strongest, and fittest athletes this momentous summer was that this biggest of challenges for our children (stemming the tide of the hotter, wetter, stormier weathers) will only be tackled successfully if we are also truly…Together!

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