Peter Smout Memorial Essay Writing Competition 2019
We are delighted to announce that our annual Peter Smout Memorial Essay Writing Competition is now open!
This competition is for Kimbolton School pupils in the First to Lower Sixth Forms. It has been made possible thanks to the generosity of an anonymous Old Kimboltonian who thought highly of Peter Smout, a much-respected former Kimbolton Senior Master.
Please read the instructions below on how to enter (also available as a pdf download from the bottom of this page).
The essay topic for 2019 is: Where does the responsibility for climate change lie – with governments or individuals?
Climate change is a global problem. The UN and widely-accepted scientific opinion both state that urgent action is needed to combat climate change and issues such as CO2 emissions and plastic waste disposal. These warnings include that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 2 degrees, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The recent BBC television series Blue Planet demonstrated the increasing damage being done to the world’s oceans and wildlife by excessive plastic waste.
Merely demonstrating and talking about such environmental issues will not achieve the necessary remedies, so which concrete personal and governmental actions should urgently be taken to achieve them and where does most influence lie?
Recent international conferences on climate change in Paris and Poland have seen nations make a variety of pledges to cut emissions, but in reality commit very little in terms of concrete action to bring about change. The USA has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement altogether. There are plenty of successful examples where individual countries have tackled environmental issues. Sweden for example has introduced an effective carbon tax and is on target for zero emissions by 2045. A ban on plastic bags in China has been in place since 2008, whilst the sale of diesel cars in the UK will be prohibited from 2040. Overall though faster progress is needed and energy policies and fossil fuel use have not been adapted as far as required.
One problem facing governments is the pollution caused by multi-national companies and more responsibility needs to be taken by business leaders. Should consumers support companies that ignore their environmental impact? At an individual level, we all need to think about our habits and how we contribute to climate change. Should we fly or drive less frequently? What about our consumer habits in terms of both clothing and food? Can individuals really make a difference or is the problem too vast? And are people really committed enough to bring about lasting change? In France for example, a citizens’ protest movement began in early November 2018 against a planned rise in the tax on diesel and
petrol, which Emmanuel Macron insisted would aid the country’s transition to green energy. A poll at the time found that the price of fuel had become France’s biggest talking point. The movement was named “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) because protesters wear the fluorescent yellow high-vis jackets that all motorists must by law carry in their cars
We are looking for you to consider both sides of this debate, whilst presenting your own line of argument. It would be a good idea to include some specific examples of government and individual actions in your response to support your explanations.
Starting your research:
In addition to a range of resources available in the school library, a super introduction to the topic can be found here:
Length of Essay
Essays submitted should be in the region of 1500 words.
To Mr Newsam’s pigeon hole Monday 9th September 2019.
Overall winning essay – £200
Two consolation prizes:
Senior Category (4th to L6th Forms) – £100
Junior Category (1st to 3rd Forms) – £100
Charles Anthony Peter Smout (known as Peter) was born in Birmingham on 14 November 1929. Following school at The Leys, National Service in the Army, a degree at Cambridge and teaching practice at KES Birmingham and Kimbolton, Peter joined the staff of Kimbolton School as an English teacher in 1954. He remained here for 35 years, becoming Second Master in 1964. Many former colleagues and pupils remember him as the originator of outdoor Shakespearian productions in the castle courtyard – now home to a memorial bench bearing his name.
Peter had many and varied interests, including football, birds, butterflies, the church and opera. The Kimboltonian magazine of 1989 notes: "He always welcomed the opportunity to broaden his already diverse interests, and the Printing Club, the Wine Club, the Paperback Bookshop and the School magazine all benefitted from his enthusiasm and efficiency."
In addition to his School commitments, Peter also stood three times as parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Party in the 1970s, highlighting environmental issues and on one occasion polling over 17,000 votes. A former colleague recalls: "Many of those votes were in addition to any national swing, reflecting personal support gained by diligent long-term canvassing."
Peter celebrated his golden wedding anniversary in 2004 and remained in good health until his death on 22 December 2006, aged 77. He leaves his wife Mary, two sons and four grandchildren.