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Code Red for Humanity, but there is hope

G+S speaks to environmental activists about what we can can all do right now 

By  Felicity Bonello

Our planet has taken an immensely long time to create the stable climate that we have benefitted from and flourished within. Unfortunately, due to our human negligence that stability has shifted. If you’ve scanned the news this week, you will have learned that United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres declared a “code red for humanity” in the wake of this week’s damning climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the panel of 234 leading scientists, climate change is widespread, it’s rapid and it’s intensifying. So, what does that mean exactly? And how, at what seems like the 11th hour, can we as individuals, make any sort of difference? We sought answers from Environmentalist and Presenter Laura Wells as well as Tim Silverwood from Take 3 For the Sea and Ocean Impact Organisation, who at this time in our environment’s dire need, are at the helm of climate change activism.

“It’s extremely sobering to see the language used in the report and the press coverage, and to know that so many people around the world would be feeling devastated and hopeless on the back of the news,” Tim says. 

“But we’ve known the climate crisis would send humanity towards a tipping point for decades. I’m not going to say that it doesn’t upset me, of course it does. But more than any emotion I feel motivation to continue my work and ‘level up’. Many of us are already doing lots to further the opportunities for a long, sustainable coexistence on our home planet and this report is a wakeup call to ‘do more’. That means doing more personally, in our communities, and in our nation. And we need to be unrelenting in our expectations of our leaders. They can no longer ignore the urgent calls for radical reform to reduce carbon emissions from our nation and the countries we export our fossil fuel resources to.”

Tim Silverwood in the surf
Ocean Impact Organisation co-founder Tim Silverwood says the report findings have made him more motivated to affect change

Along with the news that rapidly rising global temperatures pose a significant threat to humanity, the report deemed that while a global effort to tackle climate change has begun, we need to work faster, or risk exceeding the projected rise to 1.5˚C between 2030 and 2052 – which would have a catastrophic impact on humanity and our natural world. If that wasn’t enough, Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to the impacts of climate change but, we’re contributing little to solutions. It sounds foreboding, because it is, but there are changes we can, and must, implement now to redirect the trajectory we’re currently on.

“We need to act now which means changing habits and understanding our impact,” Laura urges. 

“Right now, we should vote with our wallets and support business with our future in mind. We also need to support climate change organisations driving for legislative change. Volunteer and donate your time, money or experience to really make a difference.” 

Inaction has already cost us dearly. A 1.5°C world, our best possible future, will change our lives even further. At just 1°C warming, Australia has felt the brunt of climate change – think heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, and storms – and we need a critical behaviour change from all global citizens now. 

“We need to be future, long-term thinking rather than the short-sighted and present-day thinkers our governments tend to be. As individuals we should really know where and how our money is invested. Look at your banks and superannuation company. Ensure they don’t invest your money into fossil fuel companies. If they do, switch companies but also let the old one know why you have changed. We all need to be aware of our individual actions as well. Keep working towards a life with a small footprint. Invest in renewable energy for your home, compost, reduce waste, and vote for a government that will enact climate action,” says Laura. Tim concurs.

Marine Biologist Laura Wells says we need to act now, which means changing habits and understanding our impact
Marine Biologist Laura Wells says we need to act now, which means changing habits and understanding our impact

“It shouldn’t matter what your political persuasion is – we all need a healthy home planet to practice our beliefs,” says Tim.

“It’s fundamentally clear that the current Australian political construct is not doing anywhere near enough. So, get on the phone and email and talk directly to your elected representatives who are there to serve your community – if they aren’t doing enough then look for someone else who is. If you’re not sure who your elected representatives are and where they stand (and vote) on issues important to you, check out the vote for you website.”

Additionally, consider supporting businesses driven by purpose who are creating a positive impact. The rise in the BCorp movement in recent years has been incredibly inspiring. BCorps and other purpose driven businesses are showing that making money and creating a positive impact (and therefore reducing negative ones) is completely possible.

“I encourage all businesses to further explore this framework,” says Tim, “and even if it’s not the right time to get certified, start the journey to ensure that you are on the right track.” 

Supporting innovation and the rapid scaling of solutions is also key.

“If people have the skills, passion and drive to create radical solutions to build a better future then we need to provide them with all the help they can get. Our goal at OIO is to accelerate 100 start-ups improving ocean health in the next five years and in doing so, help to put Australia on the map as a nation actively supporting ocean innovation. We’ve got no time to waste so let’s get down to business,” says Tim. 

Doing nothing is not an option, but when we look down the barrel of what it will take to make the changes required, it can seem almost overwhelming.  Having said that, we need to remain charged and resist inaction and any sort of complacency. 

“We all have the obligation to protect the environment. We are custodians of it, protectors, and creators of the future. So, understand it, love it, connect with it, and do everything in your power to create a beautiful, healthy future,” says Laura.

 “Yes, we are up against it, but our species is truly remarkable at adaptation when we fully devote ourselves to a mission. The more activated and charged we remain the better the outcomes will be across the many areas our species needs our help with,” agrees Tim.

Are you ready to embody the change you want to see in the world and share that change with your sphere of influence? You can guarantee you’ll sleep soundly knowing you’ve done your bit.  


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