Shropshire student bags top national award for climate change study

Tackling climate change is concluded by a Shropshire student as the biggest challenge his generation will face in an award-winning article.

Barney Cansdale, the second Concord College student in successive years to win the prestigious University of Cambridge Compass Magazine competition
Barney Cansdale, the second Concord College student in successive years to win the prestigious University of Cambridge Compass Magazine competition

Barney Cansdale, a British day student at Concord College, submitted a 600 word blog on a critical global theme for a national competition, and claimed the top prize.

Barney is the second Concord student in successive years to win the prestigious University of Cambridge Compass Magazine competition.

Compass is a geography magazine and website run by university students with an annual essay/blog competition for sixth form students from across the UK.

The Compass editors say the competition provides an opportunity for students to explore geographical concepts and current issues in greater depth away from the school syllabus and practice some ‘outside-the-box’ thinking.

Barney’s entry answered the title 'What is the most effective policy that government can enact to tackle climate change?’ – a critical global theme.

Concord College’s head of geography Miss Susan Cunliffe invited geography students to take part with some of them taking up the challenge.

Challenge

Barney said: “We studied the carbon cycle in our geography lessons, looking at the effectiveness of different human interventions in tackling climate change.

“It was Miss Cunliffe who recommended the competition to us if we wanted the opportunity to look at the issue in more detail.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge our generation will face so it is important that young people are engaged in the ideas and solutions to tackle the problem.

“I think it’s really important that we find methods to tackle climate change that not just reduce human emissions, but also bring wider economic recovery and development.”

He concluded that retaining and restoring natural habitats and green spaces would be the most effective policy that governments could enact to tackle climate change and researched a UK government peatland restoration scheme.

Further work demonstrated mass afforestation programmes with a research study showing that planting 1.2 trillion trees could potentially remove up to two thirds of the human-originated emissions in the atmosphere.

Benefits

Barney added: “I concluded that not only would this help to tackle climate change, but bring economic benefits through the provision of new, green jobs, particularly important as countries recover from Covid, and help improve health and wellbeing.”

Barney, who is looking at applying to study human, social and political science at Cambridge, was awarded first prize in the competition achieving the Gold Award and his entry will soon be published on the Compass Magazine website.

He will be the recipient of a geography book from the university, Climate change: a very short introduction.

Miss Cunliffe said: “The competition was only announced at the beginning of term and with a deadline of January 31, Barney completed his entry while revising and taking his January exams.

“This makes his achievement all the more remarkable.”

Last year Ben Somerville beat hundreds of entries to win the competition for his short essay on ‘What does the Anthropocene mean to you?’ and ‘How would you define it?’.

Miss Cunliffe added: “This is now the second year in a row that a Concord student has been awarded the first place prize. We know Concord students are amazing, but they can still surprise me at just what a talented group of young people they are.

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