Facing our Environmental Emergencies

Talks and workshops to develop your understanding of the environmental crises we face and to formulate your responses.

My Circumnavigation and how it turned me Green

A talk illustrated with slides, film clips and poetry about my experiences of sailing around the world in Clipper Round the World Yacht races, which, coupled with the birth of my grandsons, which turned me into a Green activist.

It will describe the connection you feel with the energy of planet as you sail across oceans, The race is an adventure in which women take part as crew and skippers on equal terms with men, coming out of our comfort zones to experience the planet in a unique and challenging way.

On the voyages I learned, paradoxically, how very small the planet is, even though it feels vast and intimidating, and how very delicately balanced it is, even though it feels powerful and violent. I connected with dolphins, pilot whales and albatrosses in their world but saw graveyards of bleached coral. I learned and felt how the planet offers more natural, clean energy than we could ever possibly require and resolved to do whatever I could to reverse the dangerous environmental course we are on now.

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Adventure, COP26 and Activism

Spiced with first-hand experiences of the effects of global warming on oceans and mountains, this illustrated session will explore the importance of COP26 in Glasgow this year for the future of humanity.

This vital international conference will assess whether the ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ of the signatories to the Paris Agreement towards CO2 reduction have any chance of limiting global warming to 2c, let alone 1.5c. At the moment, there is very little change of them doing so. If they don’t, what will happen next?

If politicians once again fail to take adequate action, can technology save us?

Has the election of Joe Biden made a difference? What impact has Greta Thunberg and the School Strike had? What can I do about it? Does activism have any chance of succeeding? Or is it all too late?

After the initial input, this session will give delegates the chance to discuss and debate in groups, develop their own thoughts and conclusions, and recognise the power we all have as consumers in a democracy.

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Climate Change: a first hand account

Sailing across the oceans of the world in a racing yacht, or climbing mountains in the Alps or Himalayas, choosing to go to the edge of your personal limits of endurance seemed to connect me to the energy, beauty and terror of the planet.

This illustrated talk explores some of those life-changing moments and relates them to the challenges we all face in a world of heating oceans, extreme weather events and shrinking glaciers.

This talk combines my very personal, direct experiences of the oceans and mountains with a more detailed look at the science and politics of the climate crisis.

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Climate Reality: The latest Al Gore presentation

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth was first broadcast 14 years ago. What is the current position? What has stopped us taking action? Should we live now in hope or despair?

Climate Change has at last made it onto the political agenda thanks to Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough and Extinction Rebellion. But is it too late?

Starting with the fundamental facts of the science climate change, this powerpoint presentation offers an up-to-date review of the situation: the actions being taken and the scope for hope in the future.

What about China? What about Donald Trump? Must we fly less? Can we afford to change? Will a Green Economy work?

The workshop then allows plenty of scope for group discussions and questions.

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Is it too late? What can I do?

For someone living on the banks of the River Severn, who has been flooded several times and can no longer get insurance; for an Australian whose home has been burned down and for the 80 million animals who died in the fires; for the farmers of Kenya or the Sudan whose crops have failed and whose cattle have died…. it is already too late.

Is there a moment, though, that might really constitute ‘too late’ for the bulk of humanity?

This illustrated talk will explore what we can all do to avoid the worst effects of climate change and environmental collapse; how we can take personal responsibility for our own lifestyles and have an impact in our communities? Will local action make a difference when Australia, Brazil and the USA are still in denial about Climate Change?

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Widening Horizons

Aimed at schools, the Scout and Guide movement and mindful of the many children who rarely or never get opportunities to travel, this talk will inspire children to take the first steps of adventure.

Sitting on the deck as ocean waves crashed over me, I often wondered what had prepared me for this adventure. What had inspired me? It clearly wasn’t the school curriculum, but rather the curriculum of scouting: the resilience, connecting with the natural world and practical problem solving.

It all starts with exploring locally, coming out of familiar territory and comfort zones, gaining confidence and resilience, accepting challenges and progressively expanding individual horizons. It might provide a launch for your Duke of Edinburgh scheme, of your scouting AGM.

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Poetry of Adventure Workshop

Aimed at Y9- Y18, this workshop will inspire students with the excitement of poetry, exploring how words can capture more than pictures, and how the beauty, terror and challenge of the oceans can be translated into verse.

Illustrated with slides and readings, students will work together, discussing and evaluating word choices, rhythms, structure, imagery and metaphor, all in the context of poems written on watch and scribbled in my bunk directly afterwards while also trying to grab a few hours’ sleep. They will be able to trace the process from scribbled draft to final version, analysing the poetic choices involved.

If they thought poets could not be men and women of action, this will change their minds!

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Why the music to ‘Jerusalem’ is wrong.

‘Jerusalem’ is probably our most patriotic anthem. It stirs our souls, makes our hearts beat faster and fills us with pride. It is a National Treasure.

But did Blake intend it to be patriotic? What if the answer to all the rhetorical questions isn’t ‘Yes’? What is the second verse about? Revolution? Sexual liberation? The imagery doesn’t feel like a celebration of the status quo…

The music was written by Hubert Parry in 1916 while war was raging. Was he still comfortable with its patriotic, bellicose nature as the true horrors of the carnage in the trenches became apparent?

This talk will explore all those questions, along with other extracts of the visionary poetry of William Blake. How he taught us to see ‘infinity in a grain of sand’ and how ‘the tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction’. The talk will take you from disease ridden 18th century London to the outer reaches of the Universe….

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