A-level Sustainability Conference
  • Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth

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Join us for our A-level Sustainability Conference.
This conference will offer A level students a range of talks centred around the theme of sustainability. With academics from chemistry, earth sciences, environmental sciences and geography, this conference will draw on expertise from across the whole of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Plymouth. 
From 10:15 | Registration
10:30–10:45 | Welcome to the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science
10:45–11:15 | Dr Scott Davidson
11:20–11:50 | Dr Tim Daley
11:50–12:30 | Lunch
12:30–13:00 | Dr Mark Holton
13:00–13:30 | Dr Andrew Seedhouse
13:30–13:45 | Comfort break
13:45–14:15 | Dr Michelle Harris
14:15–14:45 | Dr Alison Turner
14:45–15:00 | Wrap up/evaluation forms
Please book your place via the above link or email sciengoutreach@plymouth.ac.uk for any queries.
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Each talk will be 30 minutes long with a break for lunch. Please find talk details below.

Superheroes in the Fight Against Climate Change: the Role of Peatlands as Natural Climate Solutions 
Dr Scott Davidson, Lecturer in Ecosystem Resilience)
Peatlands are among the most valuable ecosystems on earth and are one of our best nature-based solutions to climate change. Not only are they important for biodiversity, water quality and flood management, but they are also the largest terrestrial carbon store, storing more carbon than all other vegetation types combined. Peatlands cover vast areas of the globe but despite their importance, they are becoming increasingly threatened by both climatic (e.g. wildfires) and anthropogenic (e.g. land-use change) disturbances. 
This presentation will explore the variety of peatlands that are found across the world, as well as the types of disturbances that impact the functioning of these incredibly important ecosystems. Finally, we will explore what we can do to prevent losing one of the best players in the fight against climate change.
The Climate Crisis
Dr Tim Daley, Associate Professor of Physical Geography)
Geography and geographers play a key role in developing an understanding of the climate crisis, from its causes to the risks it poses and the current and possible future impacts. This talk offers a view of the crisis: its origins, the main drivers, its impacts, and some proposed solutions. 
Among other things it:
  • explores the meaning of a climate ‘crisis’
  • discusses how the concept has arisen as scientists gain increasing confidence in the data signalling dramatic changes in global climate systems
  • examines the causes of the crisis and assesses the impacts, both now and in the future
  • considers why the nature of the crisis is complex, and how any solutions may need to be radical, e.g. in energy production and use.
Promoting Geography for Sustainability
Dr Mark Holton, Associate Professor in Human Geography)
The world is changing at an accelerating pace, with human actions seen as the primary cause of global environmental change. To combat these issues, sustainability science has emerged as a way of integrating human and environmental issues and improve planetary health and wellbeing. The discipline of Geography plays a unique role in sustainability science in that it explores the relationships between people, places and the environment. This means that geographers are well placed to understand the impacts of, and solutions to, contemporary global challenges such as sustainability and climate change. This is important, as exploring these relationships between the natural and social world is a crucial step in promoting successful human-environmental system dynamics at various spatial scales and in a variety of global contexts.
The Importance of Sustainable Mobility to Carbon Reduction
Dr Andrew Seedhouse, Director of Transport, Sustainable Earth Institute)
The UK is signed up to the Paris Agreement for reduction CO2 emissions. Transport within the UK represents around 24% of our total CO2 output and car-based road transport is responsible for over 90% of this. 
The talk will explore the UK's approach to sustainable mobility and how far we need to go to reduce our emissions to the agreed target levels – are our green solutions, really green at all? We will explore how we have structured the UK's delivery of sustainable transport and whether this is a help or hindrance. 
The talk will conclude by looking at what individuals can do to reduce their carbon footprint associated with transport. The talk has been prepared to support themes associated with the Human Geography syllabus.
Minerals and Metals for a Sustainable Future – Where Will They Come From?
Dr Michelle Harris, Associate Professor in Earth Sciences)
To deliver a sustainable future and to transition our energy landscape to green, renewable resources, we require an extraordinary amount of minerals and metals. 
This talk will outline the resource demand, ask the question ‘can mining be sustainable?’ and look at projects being developed in the South West that are hoping to deliver local supply chains for some key metals needed for a sustainable future.
The Cost of Gold
Dr Alison Turner, Lecturer in Chemistry and Environmental Geochemistry)
Pollution from widespread, small scale gold mining can have devastating consequences for the local environment and its people. Here we explore the cultural, chemical and environmental challenges associated with the extraction of gold from low-grade reserves in Ghana, West Africa.

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