The Elements: How we are tackling the global climate crisis with local solutions?
ITV Meridian's Holly Green has been looking at the four 'natural elements' of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Here, she explains the climate challenges we're facing with each element and the possible solutions.
Working in the world of weather, climate change has always been a subject close to my heart. It also feels like such a huge issue that it’s hard to know how to even begin to produce a series of reports about it, let alone tackle the problem!
Along the way I have met so many fantastic people - from students developing the only solar car licensed to drive on UK roads, to ‘Windy Pete’ the man who took a punt on building a wind turbine in his own back garden with the dream of supplying cheap energy to his neighbours.
‘Fire’ was fascinating but quite scary to film. After the summer of wildfires we saw, it was rather unnerving to learn how much greater risk we’ll be facing as the world gets warmer.
I felt very lucky to film a controlled burn earlier in the year. They only take place during a very small window when the weather conditions are just right which ensures the fires burn themselves out very quickly and don’t spread or get out of control. Even so, the speed with which the fires took hold were breathtaking to witness. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be faced with an out-of-control wildfire.
When searching for a story about harnessing the sun’s energy, I didn’t expect to find teenagers leading the way. The students at Ardingly and Ifield colleges who build solar cars were a brilliant bunch - so passionate and engaged - their teacher told me he even got emails from some of them on Christmas Day with ideas and suggestions for how to develop their new car!
‘Water’ is probably the element that brings the world its biggest climate change challenges including flooding, drought and rising sea levels. So it was fantastic to find a project using water to start creating a future where we can grow more food out of season using sustainable energy AND reduce the need to import food.
Then walking into Moulsecoombe Primary school with their wonderful little rain garden oasis in the midst of concrete was delightful. It goes to show that nature is often the best teacher when it comes to dealing with so many of our environmental challenges.
‘Earth’ was a huge learning curve for me. I still find it difficult to get my head around the idea that a handful of soil contains more microorganisms than there are humans on the planet.
It contains massive amounts of carbon - the oceans are the only place that store more - yet we so often treat our soil with disregard.
I also found myself having to hold a worm for the first time, pretending to be delighted as five year olds excitedly thrust them into my hands!
Finally, ‘Wind’ is probably the element that brings us the most hope for the future but was also the hardest to film. It felt too easy to focus on commercial wind farms - I wanted to find something more unusual.
The ‘wind wings’ being developed in our region is such new and exciting technology. Shipping relied on wind for millennia before the invention of the engine and I love the idea that it could finally be returning to its roots.
As for ‘Windy Pete’, he made an incredibly bold decision to remortgage his house to build his own wind turbine and it’s now finally paying off!
While filming this series I have been so surprised and impressed by the amount of novel and interesting ways that we are tackling a global problem with local solutions.
What has particularly struck me is just how much young people care about the issue and want to do whatever they can to make a difference. With the future of the planet in their hands, it makes me hopeful.