Crafting a Persuasive and Moving Speech

Felsted's Year 9 English students have been consolidating learning in a number of subjects while crafting some very persuasive and moving speeches.

Mr Crossley, who organised the six-lesson project for the English Department, said: "Their challenge was to tackle some of the big problems the world faces, but we thought it would be more interesting and useful if they could choose to write on issues and topics they enjoyed learning about in other subjects. We wanted to bring to life how being able to use English well can, in some cases, change the world we live in - and smuggle in the essential GCSE skill of persuasive writing."

Students began by studying how Greta Thunberg uses the structure of her speeches, including at individual sentence level, to make her arguments more effectively. Some stuck to the climate change theme, supporting their positions with statistics and other information from Geography and the sciences. Others crafted speeches about whether or not humankind faced a greater threat from its own conflicts or from natural disasters. 

They combined lessons from History about the First World War with learning from Geography. Student Sissy S, said she had brought ideas from Chemistry into her climate change speech and found the process very enjoyable. 

Sissy S

What do you think of when you hear the words climate change? Well, I imagine the green world we live in today, which is full of life, slowly turning into what I imagine hell to be like. The world is full of fire and nothing: no colourful plants; no birds soaring in the sky; no fish swimming in crystal clear water; no animals playing in the fields, nothing. Just dark, dry, desolate land.

Most people think of climate change as, “In the future” and consider “It's not our problem”, but it is your problem and it’s happening now - and it will continue to happen if you don’t do anything about it. I am not asking everyone to protest or act in any other major ways, but to act as much as we all can. For example, putting our rubbish in the correct bins, using less one-use plastic bottles, buying items with less plastic packaging when and if you can, and if you are part of, or own a business, try to pack your goods in less plastic.

Deforestation is a major cause of climate change. Unbelievably, more than 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day and 78 million acres lost every year. More than 20% of the Amazon rainforest is already gone, and much more is severely threatened, as the destruction continues. So, why is this happening? Well, we use the wood and space for logging, agriculture, cattle, mining, oil extraction and dam-building. Why do we need this particular forest? The Amazon rainforest is home to 10 million different species of animals, plants and insects, and without their home they will become endangered - or worse, extinct. Another reason is that the Amazon rainforest is also referred to as the 'Lungs of the Planet' because it produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen. People and other animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Well, plants are the opposite. They breathe in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. If we cut down the forests, we will not survive.
If we do not act now we will lose this amazing planet for good. Our existence is melting and falling through our fingers. But the solution is there: we just need to do little things in our community and it will make a huge difference. If scientists are already looking for life on other planets, are we too late? Either we save this planet or we will have to move. I think the majority of people in this room already know what it is like to move house and people will still do it in the future. Sometimes, we get upset because we have made so many memories in a particular house. But think about moving to a whole new planet, when earth holds so many memories. That might happen to your descendants. Young children will never know what Earth was like and they will ask their parents, who will say: “There was not much left. I don’t know why the people back then bothered.” On the contrary, we should bother - because this is our home and it’s on fire. Do you really want to be responsible for such a disaster?

Avoiding our problems will not make them go away but just leave them sitting there, in the back of your mind teasing you, tormenting you, making you feel guilty until the day you finally stand up and act. If everyone does their duties for the climate, and if everyone makes small changes in their lives, it would have a large impact and we would solve this climate catastrophe. 

Thank you for listening.

Hope F

All throughout history, we have thought our world to be powerful. From early on, Greeks thought that when the earth shook, and when the floor flooded, the planet was mad at them because of something they did. After this, they soon came up with the idea of Gods to explain this to a further extent. They had many destructive and incredible events happen that led them up to these ideas and beliefs. For a long time, we have suspected that our world was more powerful than us. But how powerful?

We have always known it has power and control, but the idea of its power and control going wild has increased tremendously since 1990. Why is this? Every day we help release more carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. By doing all of these, we pollute the atmosphere: travelling; needless fires; cutting down trees and even breathing. All of this heats our planet. This causes many life-changing events such as the following: hurricanes, floods, drought, wildfires, forest fires, even icebergs melting. Avoiding what we are doing to our planet is only going to make things worse. 

It is said that, “In 4 billion years the earth will burn to its fate, burning all of humanity to death.” They say, “burn humanity to death”; they assume that at that point there won’t be any more nature and wildlife left to save. Is this fair? Is this right? I ask this as I am curious about the opinions that we will pass on to the next, and next, and the next, generations. Will they be smarter than us? Will they be less selfish? Will they be disappointed?

One day there will be too much heat trapped in our atmosphere and it will essentially melt the Earth's surface melting everything we have built. Everything we have done. Everything we have ever loved. This is proof of its power and if we carry on living the way we do, not finding, not using sustainable energy supplies, will help the Earth fall to its doom. This isn’t intractable; the solution is simple. We need to do something now. Before it's too late. Before our planet - our world - meets its catastrophic fate. If we don’t do anything now, our planet as we know it will change for the worse. It will be too late. 

We might live our lives. We might get married, have children. We might even have grandchildren. But what happens when they ask you or your children why you didn’t do anything to stop this? Why didn’t you better care? Why are there no more animals? Trees? Unpolluted seas? What should we say? Do we lie? Or do we do something about it now to prevent all of these questions from being asked. This makes me disappointed and ashamed of ourselves. So should you be. They say that the next generation will do something about this but the truth is that they said that to the generation before us. So I say, "No, we have to do it ourselves. We, as the current generation, need to sort this out. Now." 

Luca D

In 1914, what would later be known as World War I broke out. At the time it was known as “the war to end all wars.” 

If only they knew how wrong that name would be. 

There are still wars going on today, as we speak. When I hear the word “war”, I think of blood everywhere; a dead body around every corner; children crying; gunshots every second. All these horrors and yet we still go to war anyway. Even though there are no winners - just losers. We have said that it will never happen again, but with the current state the world is in, World War Three is essentially inevitable.

There is no point in war, no justice in war, no good reason for war. Only death and suffering. At the moment, in the world, there are at least 10 major conflicts going on. That number may sound small but in World War One there were more than twenty million deaths in a conflict that only lasted four years. Some of these current conflicts have been going on for at least 10 years.

Avoiding another world war is essential and if you do not believe me, just listen to the cries of dying children in Syria. The outbreak of the Syrian civil war was 15th March, 2011. That is more than 10 years of plain murder. Ten years of mindless violence. Ten years of pain. In 2010, their population was 21.3 million. In these past 10 years, 400,000 people have been lost. Syria isn’t even a big country. Think about how many last breaths would be taken if the inevitable World War Three were to break out.

Has someone that you love ever died? Do you feel comfortable at night? Do you ever worry about if your house will be gone when you get home? No one ever thinks about these questions. If someone that you love were to go to war, and then two weeks later you had a message saying that they were dead, how would you react? I hope that for your sake that never happens, that you don’t have to go through that pain. Some people that survived World War Two are still alive today and who knows what they lost because of that conflict. If we go into another world war, we’re basically asking for someone to make us feel that pain.

The crisis of World War Three could break out  within the next year or two. I don’t want anybody to suffer like they did 100 years ago. But what can I do? I'm just a 14 year old kid from Hertfordshire. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean I still can’t say something. If World War Three begins, I think that the world would literally be turned to ash. Wars and conflicts will never end, but that doesn’t mean that we can try and prevent one that's on its way. The War to End all Wars should have been 100 years ago but the  conflicts never end. You should all try to use your words, rather than plain selfish and childish violence, to put an end to war.

Mason M
What do YOU think is the largest threat to mankind? Terrorism? Poverty? War?  I’ll tell you…

The biggest threat we face is happening as we speak - although some remain oblivious to this maddening situation. It is climate change. 

What do you think of when you hear the phrase? To me it signals an increase in natural disasters, the destruction of economies, causing poverty and homlessness. The warming of oceans and rising sea levels, destroying ecosystems and forcing extinction upon countless species. The average populations of the world’s animals have dropped by up to 60 per cent in just over 40 years, according to one World Wildlife Fund for Nature report. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years. In 2019, Indonesia announced £27 billion plans to move the capital city away from Jakarta. Home to over ten million people, some parts of Jakarta are sinking as much as 25cm per year, making it more vulnerable to rising sea levels. With these kinds of headlines, I stumble at the fact that people still remain clueless to the current crisis.  They still don’t seem to know or care that by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and raising more and more livestock, humans are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature. This adds massive amounts of greenhouse gases to those already in the atmosphere, magnifying the greenhouse effect and contributing to global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions have a wide range of environmental and health impacts: they contribute to respiratory disease caused by smog and air pollution, and they trap heat. Perhaps more devastatingly, they fuel extreme weather, provoke food supply disruption and increase the number of deadly wildfires.

We must help now or there will be no “we” by the year 2100. For many of us, 2010 will be in our lifetimes, if not our children’s. At this rate, we may not be able to see our grandkids without having to wear a mask - not to avoid a virus - but to stop ourselves from suffocating in Earth’s toxic atmosphere. The world in 2050 is more hostile and less fertile, more crowded and less diverse. Compared with 2019, there are more trees, but fewer forests; more concrete, but less stability. Imagine a world where the rich retreat further into air-conditioned sanctums, behind ever higher walls, to block out the increase in natural disasters which will, as ever, fall more heavily upon poor towns and villages. 

If we fail to act, our generations may be the last to enjoy some of the natural wonders of the world. Would you rather your child or grandchild was born into a world where we have saved some of the amazing animals we hold so dear? I bet you would. A recent study in Nature Sustainability suggests that nearly 90% of land animals could lose some of their habitat by 2050 if current agricultural systems continue as they are. And so it falls to us to do something. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” It is time we took that lesson to heart before it is too late.