On August 31 2010, 13 Women's Institute members from all over Oxfordshire marched up the hill to Earthwatch's Europe Regional Climate Centre in Oxford. Their mission? To arm themselves with the very latest scientific information about climate change and to see at first hand research projects in action. The group took home ideas and inspiration to tackle climate change in their local areas.
Field director Richard Sylvester talks to WI members.
Over tea and biscuits, the WI team heard the latest information on climate change and its projected impact on our planet. Earthwatch Field Centre Director, Richard Sylvester, began by explaining the latest climate models showing the observed and projected rises in CO2 within our atmosphere. He then showed the rise in global temperature since the 1900s and demonstrated how human activity has accelerated this rise.
With this information fresh in their minds, the team went to visit an Earthwatch research plot in Wytham Woods. The sun shone for the team as they were shown how scientists measure the growth rate of trees in different parts of the woods along with the impact of dryer and wetter conditions on the fragmented woodland.
Returning to the Climate Centre, the team were joined by Jo Hamilton from Oxfordshire ClimateXchange. Her presentation, entitled "Reasons to be Cheerful", showed the team that there is plenty each of us can do to begin tackling climate change at a local level. Jo introduced the Oxfordshire action groups that are working on this issue and highlighted upcoming events that individuals could participate in. The presentation concluded by inviting the group to think about climate change and the story they would tell their WI group to inspire change at local level.
Walking through the woods.
Earthwatch's Europe Regional Climate Centre is one of five research and learning centres around the world set up with funding from the HSBC Climate Partnership. These centres (in Europe, North America, Latin America, China and India) are the locations for a five year global research programme to determine how forests are being affected by changes in climate and human activity.
Learning tree measuring techniques.
During the programme over 2,000 HSBC employees will be selected to spend one or two weeks at a Regional Climate Centre to assist the scientists and learn more about what climate change will mean for their business. HSBC has also funded opportunities for members of the local community to come and visit the centre and learn more about the research and how climate change will impact their local area. As an organisation that can wield great influence in the local community, Earthwatch was keen to open its doors to the WI.