Geography education is vital in the age of climate change, says broadcaster Nicholas Crane at Suffolk conference
- Credit: Archant
Geography education needs to be made a priority, so people have a greater understanding of the implications of climate change and sea level rises, broadcaster and writer Nicholas Crane has told a conference in Suffolk
Mr Crane, who is best known for his BBC TV documentaries Coast and Map Man, spoke at the Suffolk Coastal Forum held at Wherstead Park in Ipswich last Friday. The event attracts a range of people involved in looking after the county’s coastline from engineers and councillors to conservationists and academics.
The topic of how best to adapt to climate change and predicted sea level rises dominated conversations at the forum and speaking prior to his presentation, Mr Crane said these issues are so important that they require people with a scientific understanding to deal with them.
“We need among policy makers a much higher level of geographical literacy,” he said.
“We need people in positions of decision-making - both at national and local government level but also in business and in NGOs – to really understand the complexities of geographical systems. The decisions made in the next 15 to 20 years will be incredibly important for Suffolk and the whole of the UK.”
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“Everything is interconnected – it’s not enough just to look at rising sea levels in isolation. Why are we building housing estates on flood plains – why is that happening? The human side of geography is connected to the physical natural side of geography.”
Mr Crane, who originally hails from East Anglia and was one time president of the Royal Geographical Society, stressed that he is “not an expert.”
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“I am a writer who has a geography degree from a long time ago – I simply read a lot,” he said,
His latest book, You Are Here, out this week, focuses on the vital role geography plays in the understanding of the big issues facing humanity and the planet today.
New forecasts on predicted sea level rises around the UK to the end of the century are due to published next month - a document Mr Crane referred to as the “most important Government report for a generation”.
He added: “We’ve always had rising sea levels ever since the ice melted at the end of The Ice Age but we now have rising sea levels both because of the melting ice and the thermal expansion of the oceans – because of global warming the water is expanding with heat and occupying a greater volume.
“So, it’s important that we understand about geography at every level – including the voters, so we vote in the right people.
“Most children at GCSE level today understand about the climate system but it should be taught from primary school up – it’s as important as reading and writing.”