01.09.2014

Climate Really Bytes

Danielle King reports on Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training

Many of you would have noticed that Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Training was run in Melbourne in 2014. I was lucky enough to be one of those accepted to attend, along with around 525 others who came from far and wide around the globe. It turned out to be an inspiring event which helped to rejuvenate a slight case of ‘green fatigue’ and reminded me why I do what I do.

The line-up of impressive and passionate presenters were too many to name here, but included Al Gore, Chairman and Founder of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, Kelly O’Shanassy (CEO Australian Conservation Foundation) and Anthea Harris (CEO Climate Change Authority, Australian Government).

Together they took us on a journey of evidence that clearly demonstrated that we are dealing with global warming issues right now. Climate change may be considered a major issue for future generations, but it is already impacting many all over the globe, including Australia, much more than we realise. This timely ‘update’ reinstalled in all of us a sense of urgency that is desperately needed in order to spread the word and deal with what really is a crisis unfolding.

As part of the three day session, Al Gore provided a remarkable eight hour on-stage presence where he presented on the current situation and included up-to-the-minute research and examples of climate impacts in Australia. Impacts such as…
If you live in a bushfire prone area, global warming is contributing to increased risk of more fires that are more severe as our temperatures rise and rainfall reduces. Something those of us in Victoria and New South Wales are becoming all too familiar with.

  • If you live in a cyclone-prone-area, the cyclones are also becoming more frequent, stronger and more devastating. Such as those devastating parts of Queensland over the past few years.
  • If you work in the health industry, the additional pressure on local health networks during heat waves, which are happening more often, are putting significant stress on the medical networks.
  • Insurance premiums have increased and in some areas people can no longer get insurance. This is affecting farmers, householders and businesses in what are now considered ‘high risk’ areas and even the saleability of some properties.
  • The Climate Council’s Angry Summer report from March 2014 where it has been clearly demonstrated that in just 90 days, over 156 records were broken around Australia.
  • And the list goes on. There is absolutely no doubt – we, here, today, have a problem.

There is a solution, but is the light at the end of the climate reality tunnel a train? No, not yet anyway. That feeling of being totally overwhelmed by the enormity of the issue can be quite depressing, but there is so much we can do, and are doing, to combat and adapt. The opportunities are everywhere.

Many of us are making a difference, personally, in our work and in some cases as organisations. The ground-swell is growing and the solutions are there. So hold onto the hope, share the good news stories and encourage action whenever you can.

Here are just a few of the things that are happening around us, making a difference, right now:

  • Investors of all sizes are moving from traditional investments to cleaner technologies and highly efficient buildings.
  • Rooftop solar is now on more than one million homes providing energy to over 2.6 million Australians (source: Clean Energy Regulator, May 2013) reducing dependence on ‘dirty’ power.
  • According to the Climate Institute, the Clean Energy sector is now employing more people than the mining industry. Great for the renewables industry and the country’s economy.
  • Community solar and wind farm projects (i.e. Hepburn Wind Farm now powering all of Daylesford and some of the surrounding area) are popping up all over the country.
  • Schools are now including sustainability topics as part of the curriculum. Teaching the next generation about our impact on the environment and how to minimise it is a fantastic move forward in education.
  • Smart businesses are realising that to remain economically viable, they need to look at the ‘triple bottom line’ which includes environmental and social policies and practices, just making money isn’t cutting it anymore. To survive and be ‘sustainable’, businesses are changing.
  • Householders are learning how to grow food again (the veggie patch is making a comeback); many are reducing their waste, energy and water use.

I think you get the point – there is so much positive work going on out there it sometimes gets forgotten. But we should not get complacent and think ‘She’ll be right’ (‘she’ being us, our families, our country, our planet, our home). Because ‘she’ won’t be allright without continued and increased efforts to minimise the effects of climate change and adapt on every front.

So let’s ramp it up a bit. How? There are thousands of ways you can make a difference. My top tips are below. Minimise your impact and be more active by…

1.  Simply taking your business away from companies that are not in line with your moral values (and being sure to tell them why you are moving/not buying the product);

2.  Supporting clean energy in any way you can (i.e. install solar, choose green power);

3.  Reducing your meat intake and increase your fruit and vegetables;

4.  Ensure as much as possible of what you do buy is sustainably and ideally locally sourced and can be recycled or upcycled later;

5.  Teaching your kids how to recycle, look after ‘worm’ pets and grow veggies;

6.  Attending rallies that support climate solutions, put a price on carbon and that protect our natural environment;

7.  Being the change you want to see in the world (didn’t someone famous say that!).

One thing about us humans, when we put our minds to it, we can achieve almost anything. It was clear from the Climate Reality Training is that it’s up to us, we the people, to shout loud and clear and ‘be the change’. Why? So that our home can remain our home, and when our children ask ‘What did you do to try and prevent or resolve the climate problem?’, we’ll have an answer we’ll be proud of. So please, make that extra effort, be active and be the change. The cost of doing nothing is massive; but the benefits of doing something are enormous.

Danielle King is a Sustainability Consultant, founder of Green Moves Australia and is a Climate Reality Leader. She is available to give presentations on climate change, its impact and opportunities to any group that is interested within the Melbourne area. She can be contacted at dking@greenmoves.com.au.