This new idea was created by Dave Kell, youth worker with a background in neuroscience, and developed with Dr Penny Fidler, CEO of ASDC.

In this one hour climate walk, families and school groups are encouraged to think about the huge length of time the Earth has existed and the relatively short length of time humans have been present and affecting the climate. Time is converted to distance with 1mm being equivalent to roughly 1000 years. You could lead a group on the walk or provide a physical or audio guide based around local landmarks, Google Maps provides various options to support with this too.

Activity summary:

1.Inspire families and school groups to go on a climate walk lasting 50 minutes to an hour and point out the geological human and other highlights on the way

2.Map out the walk using recognisable local landmarks in the city or area and highlight when on the walk they would see various geological events happening (see more detailed timeline below)

3.If you can, give various starting and finishing places across the city with routes for teachers, youth and community groups to do

4.It might be useful to have a shorter version of the route as well, starting around halfway

5.Use the #DoTheClimateWalk to share your walk

Why do a Climate Walk

The Earth and the planetary systems were in place for an incredibly long amount of time before humans arrived. The industrial revolution, which has caused significant changes to our climate, is incredibly recent within the scale of our planet’s history. This activity makes this time real by physically moving along the timescale and aids understanding.

The speed with which humans have enormously impacted planetary systems such as carbon dioxide and temperature is dramatic and this activity brings this climate change to life in a clever and simple way. This will hopefully open up conversations climate as well as about the geology and history of your local area (the more of this you can sprinkle through your walk the better).

Go on a climate walk

The following data should help you plan your own climate walk, don’t forget to use the #DoTheClimateWalk!

As the Earth is 4.54 billion years old, you’ll need to plan a walk which is around 4.54 km long (2.8 miles). This will take about an hour.

During  your Climate Walk, talk about climate and the Earth, and highlight how old the earth is, how recently humans have been around, and their incredible recent impact on a system that is 4.54 billion years old.


1mm = 1000 years


0 km: Your walk begins. The Earth is at its beginning, it formed at the start of our walk, 4.54 billion years ago

0.5 km from start: Life on Earth began with some single-celled organisms 4 billion years ago

1.6 km into walk: Multicellular life begin 1.6 billion years ago

541 metres from the end of your walk: The Cambrian explosion began 541 million years ago and lasted for about 13 to 25 million years ago (1.3 to 2.5 metres). This is when small animals such as molluscs (535 mya) began appearing in the fossil record.

520 metres from the end of walk: Trilobytes appear in the fossil record

278 metres from the end: The first mammals appear on Earth

60 metres from end: Dinosaurs become extinct

5-7 metres from the end of the walk: Human ancestors appeared on Earth 5-7 million years ago

13 cm from the end (good idea to have a ruler handy for this last bit)

The first humans appeared 130,000 years ago. This refers to anatomically modern Homo sapiens with a brain size evolved to the same size as today (earlier ancestors had smaller brains).

This is a good point to highlight how close to the end of the walk you are and how long the rest of the walk was in comparison.

Last 1 cm of the walk

This last centimeter represents virtually all of recorded human history (10,000 years) 

What happened in the last 30cm of a 4.56 km walk?

This is where your ruler will come in really useful. These are distances from the end of walk which marks the current day.

13 cm first humans

1 cm virtually all recorded human history

2 mm Roman Empire 27 BC – AD 476

1 mm 1066

0.5 mm Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 1st  (1558)

0.26 mm Industrial revolution began in the UK 260 years ago (1760)

The distance calculations

The earth is 4.54 billion years old

4 540 000 000 years

The walk is 4.54km = 4540 metres = 454,000 cm = 4,540,000 mm

0.1mm = 100 years

1mm = 1000 years

1 cm = 10 000  years

10 cm = 100 000  years

100 cm (1 m) = 1,000 000