What Rotarians can do to help the Environment
Gloria Barnett, Rotary Club of South Foreland meeting on July 28, 2021.
Gloria Barnett is a member and Environmental Lead of the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise. She is an advocate for the world’s oceans, giving talks to people around the world and the author of a non-fiction Guide to the Oceans and educational resources for primary schools.
Gloria, aka the ‘WeirdFish Lady’, gave an interesting and eye-opening talk on environmental issues to the Rotary Club of South Foreland, along with practical recommendations and resources to try to help us get to grips with the environmental challenge set for all Rotarians.
She told us that all life on earth relies on oceans supplying 80% of our oxygen and it also supplies all our fresh water. We need healthy oceans but they are unhealthy because of too much heat and carbon dioxide. Every year, we use more resources than the earth can supply, in fact, 1.6 of Earth’s resources are being used every year. July 29, 2021, is ‘overshoot day’, the day we have used all the resources for the year that Earth can supply.
This is Not Sustainable.
Gloria recommends that we should ‘think global, act local’, meaning learn about what’s happening in the world and then act from your home and your community. As one person you can’t do a lot, but as 100 people, or 1000 – you can start to change things. Get together in groups and communities of people and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.
We need to do more as individuals to reduce carbon emissions by using less fossil fuels, reduce our consumption of meat and fish and reduce waste, especially food waste. We need sustainable management and use of resources. If we don’t need something then don’t buy it and stop One-Use Plastics.
Rotary International (RI) has added the Environment as a new focus. We can all change the world by what we do and we all have a part to play. (Video number 1 played from 2018 RI Conference in Hamburg in which incoming RI President Barry Rassin talked about Rotary taking on the challenge of Environmental Sustainability)
RI suggests that all club members belong to an Environment Team and do activities such as review club activity to ensure compliance with Environment principles; invite two speakers a year to educate members on environmental issues; educate others by visiting schools and providing resources; promoting community awareness; initiate at least one project to enhance the local environment.
Suggested activities could be Tree Planting, Creating Wildflower Gardens to increase pollinators, animal and plant diversity, Recycling Programs, Litter Collections, Visiting Primary Schools and supplying them with materials and environment education resources, run a yearly Young Environmentalist competition and joining the ‘End Plastic Soup’ Rotary Project.
A very powerful second video was played in which young children sing a song about the damage being done to the environment while accompanying video footage is shown. The text of the song is displayed and includes the following:
Why can’t you wake up and see what you have done?
Where did you think all the plastic would go?
Global destruction by human kind
Hey human, it all starts with you
If not you, then who?
If not now, then when?
We, as a club, decide what we want to do. Gloria writes an environmental blog for the District website and we can use the District website for ideas.
Gloria also referred us to the Rotary Environment Education Project in which she is involved and for which she has written books. It has many resources that can be used when visiting schools to promote environmental awareness. Primary school children are those we need to educate and if we do it correctly, it will stay with them.
‘The Amazing World Beneath the Waves’ is written in plain English so that while the science is there, it’s told in a way that people can just sit down and read it.
Fishy Tales books for 3-6 year-olds – Logan the Lobster, Prickle the Puffer Fish.
The Lucy Morgan Adventure Stories, books for 8-12 year-olds, are about three children exploring the underwater world, rain forests and caves on an island in the Caribbean. These are adventure books with an environmental, real-life science twist.
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