taking it to the streets
It’s over a week now since Jane Crouch, Intrepid Travel’s Responsible Travel Manager, and Intrepid’s five sponsored trainees emerged from their intense three days at The Climate Project Asia Pacific Summit. Now their independent work begins with consolidating their learning and preparing personalised presentations for their audiences.
Each presenter has pledged to do at least ten significant activities within the year, including presenting Al Gore’s main slideshow, engaging the media, politicians and key decision makers and training ‘connectors’ – individuals who are motivated to get active on climate change. Jane shares with us some of her lessons…
“I have done about twelve public presentations thus far since I first trained as a presenter in 2007, and I’m still learning much about finding the right balance between sharing the harsh realities of the current devastating path we are on, with offering people hope and motivating them to walk out that door and take positive actions for our future. Over the three days of this year’s summit, we had about twenty people present to us and there was opportunity for questions after each session. Here’s a few of my random note-book jottings:
The 17 member Major Economies Forum and the recent G8 summit spoke of targeting a maximum of a 2 degree increase. It means that we must get carbon concentrations in the atmosphere below 400 parts per million, and preferably 350. We’re already at 389ppm and there is a catch up phase that means our current behaviour will have us soon heading over 400ppm, even if we stopped all our emissions from today!
But what does a 2 degree increase look like in practical terms? 20-30% of species are at high risk, humans will face much tougher competition for water, food and land, extreme weather events will be come more frequent, sea levels will rise and around 100 million people will become ‘displaced persons’ per one degree temperature rise.
Andrew Hewitt from OXFAM told us there are already some 26 million displaced people as a direct result of climate change. Rising sea levels mean degradation of beaches, contamination of fresh water supplies and more extreme events when there is a high tide and an atmospheric low pressure which also will add to the sea level increase. Sea level rise is not even around the world – it depends on the air pressure and the temperature of the water. With Australia they say sea level increase is likely to be below average on the west coast and above average on the east coast, where most populated.
From scientist Dr Graeme Pearman I learnt that our planet has not been this warm for 100 million years. But if we weren’t burning fossil fuels, we’d be actually heading for another Ice Age – well over the next 20,000 years! He said that one of the best things everyone can and should do is a personal inventory of their emissions. Their fuel and water use at home, car usage, flights, work place. Once you have measured your emissions, you can set yourself targets for reduction. At work places you can do this too and reward people with the savings.
David Suzuki spoke to us by video (to reduce his own footprint) and highlighted the incredible capacity of the human brain. By using our foresight, in 150,000 years of evolution we’ve become the dominant species. We have more memory than other creatures and with our foresight we can choose to avoid dangers and take opportunities. With the enormous information or communications explosion of recent years, we can know of drought in Ethiopia, floods in Bangladesh and a melting Arctic ice sheet and know that these are all interconnected and part of one system. Everything has repercussions.
Suzuki reminded us too about how our way of living has changed. In the early 1900’s most people were farmers living in small communities and understood the interconnection between nature and their own survival. 100 years later the vast majority of us live in big cities, with more than 400 cities having populations of over one million. Our economy serves us way more than we need, giving us things we want and our wants can be endlessā€¦ “But when you look at the earth from space, you can’t see the economy!”
Al Gore reflected that the Apollo space program was launched in 1961 when President Kennedy threw down a bold challenge to Congress to put a man on the moon within the decade. On this week when we commemorate 40 years since man first landed on the moon, we can consider how Kennedy’s audacious challenge was met. This time, the stakes are much higher – we must put the same kind of commitment towards solving the climate change problem.
In the last two years Al Gore has attended around 30 ‘Future’ summits and he’s come out feeling that we have enough ideas to solve three climate crisis and we only have one! The most critical thing we need is political will, and as we lead up to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December we must know that:
1) the consequence of us not getting an ambitious, fair and binding agreement is severe; and
2) there are way more opportunities, than hurdles if we make a strong commitment – to create jobs and a better quality of life for mankind to come.
If we do nothing, the oil price will soar and jobs will be lost. Renewable energy can be the biggest source of jobs in coming years.
A quote from Paul Hawken in his book Blessed Unrest that sums up our feeling of the event:
‘If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t have the current data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.’
Some useful links:
– To arrange a Climate Project presentation at your workplace or community group, in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific, South East Asia, India, North America, Spain or the UK, please contact www.theclimateproject.org/ and they will link you with a presenter in the region.
– TckTckTck is an unprecedented global alliance of non-government organisations, trade unions, faith groups and people like you – all calling for an ambitious, fair and binding climate change agreement at Copenhagen in December. http://tcktcktck.org/