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Young people told of dire consequences of Earth’s melting ice for Bermuda

Scarlett Westbrook (photograph supplied)

Most of Bermuda would be underwater if the ice on earth were to melt, young people were warned yesterday.

Bermudian environmental scientist and PhD candidate Andreas Ratteray said: “If we were to melt all the ice on the planet, the sea levels would go up about 70 metres, or 230 feet.

“The highest point in Bermuda is around 260 feet, so pretty much all of the island would be underwater and the few places not submerged would certainly be inundated during storm surges. It would not be an ideal situation for us.”

Mr Ratteray was speaking on the first day of the second Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute Youth Climate Summit.

He is co-hosting the event alongside the co-ordinator of the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme Noelle Young. The virtual summit runs at BUEI until Saturday.

Award-winning journalist Scarlett Westbrook opened the day and spoke about her various plans and accomplishments.

Ms Westbrook helped set up the school climate strikes in the United Kingdom, when thousands of students skipped classes to protest against climate change.

Ms Westbrook also wrote the Climate Education Bill, which said climate change should be taught in UK schools, and teamed up with British MP Nadia Whittome to help make it law.

Ms Westbrook said: “The Bill passed its first reading in Parliament and parts of it are beginning to be implemented within the British education system.”

The audience also heard from Berkeley Institute student Zahra Trott, who was in the summit’s conservation working group last year.

After last year’s summit, Ms Trott and other young people went to Burt’s Island and Trunk Island to learn more about Bermuda’s environment and how it can be protected.

Ms Trott said: “By the end of our trip, we were able to plant 29 plants native to Bermuda [on Trunk Island].”

She added that last year’s summit gave her a different perspective on climate change. “We have always spoken of climate change and conservation in Bermuda as a doomsday event, like we are all going to die,” she said.

“Now that I have different, hands-on knowledge from amazing, wonderful people, I can say that if we keep doing what we are doing, we will not drown or die.

“That knowledge is reassuring and definitely helps me sleep at night. It is great to know that I have a home.”

At the end of the day, attendees were asked about their thoughts and what they had learnt.

Some of the responses included “a better understanding of what conservation is”, “we need to save the planet and change our lifestyles significantly”, and “it was interesting to see how Bermuda might be in the future”.

Today’s session, which will be virtual, will feature youth environmental activist Rayne Sullivan and biology professor Isabel Rivera-Collazo, from the University of California.

The summit will be live-streamed on BUEI’s YouTube channel, called BUEI Bermuda.

Director of the Bermuda Weather Service Mark Guishard was scheduled to talk, but was unable to make it due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Dr Guishard’s summit lecture from last year was replayed for students instead.

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Published November 22, 2022 at 7:52 am (Updated November 22, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Young people told of dire consequences of Earth’s melting ice for Bermuda

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