My name is Jessica Breavington, or JB. Since you probably don’t know me. I have just turned 20, and currently waiting to start my final year of my Natural Sciences degree at Durham University. Natural Sciences is basically a degree for people who are interested in everything and/or have commitment issues to sticking to one subject. I fulfil both of those categories. Broadly speaking one could study anything physical or social science related. Some people study totally conventional combinations within natural sciences, like maths and physics, or chemistry and biology. I chose biology, geography and earth sciences (and Arabic as a first year module – but never again). I started off with absolutely no direction and basically picked the modules that sounded the most interesting. Thankfully, through the next 2 years my degree kind of began to take shape. Studying modules like ecology, climate change, geographies of crisis, hydrology and climate, environment and resources, and economic geography. More and more I began to realise that I could link almost any two modules together in some way, despite being across 3 different subjects. I still haven’t quite figured out exactly what I’m studying, but if everything seems to link then I figure I can’t be doing too bad.
Three different subjects gives me three different perspectives on an issue which can make for some interesting and unconventional views when it comes to popular issues. Taking climate change as an obvious example. Economic geography is all about capitalism which is a big obstacle for climate action so some economic geographers argue we need capitalist solutions to climate change like carbon markets. Other (Marxist) geographers argue that capitalism is the root of all problems and it has so many internal contradictions that it pretty much should not exist. In ‘Climate change: Geographical perspectives’, there are geographers who are much more concerned about the human impacts of climate change and issues of climate justice. Such as how carbon markets can leave the most vulnerable people worse-off than before. Also, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility which is a major point of disagreement at all climate negotiations. However, there are also my studies within earth sciences. When looking back over the billions of years of earth history one would be justified in saying that climate change isn’t even that bad. There have been points in time when there has been virtually no ice on earth. Events have caused over 95% of species to disappear. There is evidence to suggest carbon dioxide levels were around 5,000ppm a very, very long time ago (they are currently around 415ppm). Despite this, the world keeps spinning and life continues. Yet, scientists say reaching 500ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would essentially be a disaster.
Would it be a disaster for the planet as a whole? No. Would it be a disaster for the millions of people living less than 1m above sea level? Those living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa? Would it be a disaster for fragile ecosystems like the Great Barrier reef? Would it contribute to the disappearance of iconic species such as polar bears? The answer to all those questions is a very likely yes. The thing is – having a balanced perspective on environmental issues and the harm humans are causing the planet can help us take more effective action. And for me at least it’s somewhat comforting to be reminded that climate change won’t literally be the end of the world.
Coming to the end of this post I have realised it is a rather misleading title and I really haven’t told you much about me at all. This isn’t surprising because I’ve never been one to talk very much about myself (there you go -another thing you know about me). However, I hope through my future posts you will learn a bit more about me and at the very least the kind of values I stand for.
P.s. One other thing you should know is that I have started this blog/website with absolutely no prior experience. So please bear with me until I figure out how to make things look pretty. Until then I guess it has got to be plain black text on a plain white background with zero pictures or colour. How fun!