When Earth Hour descended on Sydney in March 2007 there was a mixture of cynicism from some who screamed of tokenism and delight from others who wanted to stand up and be counted to support action on climate change. So, six years on what’s happened to Earth Hour and what’s happening with climate change?
Let’s start with climate change. Scientific evidence gets stronger and stronger with each passing year that human activity is the key driver of the warming period we are experiencing right now. The melting in The Arctic, the acidification of our oceans, the loss of species, the loss of soil, the increased intensity of rainfall, extended droughts, the growth of deserts, the pollution of our atmosphere are all trending worse than science expected.
At the same time Australian leaders in business and politics are turning their back on the climate science and relying on personal ideology and opinions to validate their lack of action on climate change. Australia is now a country that is actively winding back action to slow climate change.
It’s frightening to consider that this inability to understand the very real impacts on Australian jobs, economy, families, farmers, soils, oceans, salinity and water is threatening the things that we love. The Great Barrier Reef is one of those places.
As a kid I was fortunate to spend several September school holidays snorkelling and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. On one dive I came face to face with a 150 kilogram Potato Cod or Grouper at a world famous dive site known as the Cod Hole. We stopped, face to face, 10 metres below the surface, less than one metre apart, as I swirled a red bandana through the water in front of its enormous face. We were both mesmerised with each other. This continued for more than 20 minutes. Nothing else existed in the world for these 20 minutes and the moment still lives with me. Sadly, this Cod Hole and the Great Barrier Reef are under threat from climate change.
So what does Earth Hour have to do with some ‘dumb old fish’ and the Great Barrier Reef? Earth Hour has come in for criticism for having zero impact of reducing temperature of our planet. This is valid if you look at Earth Hour in isolation but not if you understand that taking the first step is often the most difficult step one can take. Earth Hour gives people in more than 7,000 cities across 152 countries an opportunity to start creating good habits that will last a lifetime.
Earth Hour is a time to pause and think about the destruction we are causing to our natural world and all of the plants and creatures that live in it. Many people still fail to understand that our natural world is our life support system. Do you know anyone who would wilfully damage and destroy their own life support system? It sounds crazy but sadly it’s true. Ideology, self-interest and ill-informed opinion dictate that we continue to destroy the very thing that supports us all for the sake of growth and getting rich as if the two are mutually exclusive.
This year Earth Hour is focussing on the Great Barrier Reef and how we can all do better in protecting the greatest natural of the world. If we fail, the economic loss to Australia is estimated at more than $2billion each year in the tourism industry alone. This is not some ‘greenie dreaming’ this is jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s real and it’s with us now.
So when you turn your lights out, or when you deliberately leave them all on, stop, pause and think about what we are really risking and how you might be able to do a better job for all generations to come. Now is the time to get educated, get organised and take action while we still have a chance to change.
Will we continue to destroy or can we learn to change? The choice is ours.
Jason Kimberley – Founder and CEO Cool Australia.