The implications of a 2-degree rise in temperatures had never really sunk in for me. Needless to say, neither had those of a 3-degree increase or 5-degree increase. Listening to a conversation at The Wheeler Centre recently made the potential challenges of rapid climate change significantly more real for me.
Soon afterwards I found myself channel surfing free-to-air TV. It’s not something I normally do but I stumbled across a program about the First Australians living near Alice Springs at the time of European arrival. I was taken by the contrast between the intimate and ancient connection between land and people of the First Australians, and the brutality and arrogance of the European Australians.
Contemplating these two experiences over the next few days, I started to feel a sense of grief. I had heard about this happening to others before but dismissed it as over-sentimentalism and something irrelevant to a truster in humans’ ability to adapt, like myself.
The grief grew slowly. I contemplated that abruptness of the change First Australian’s experienced after tens of thousands of years living close to the land. I found myself thinking that things do sometimes change quickly and dramatically for the worse.
I also contemplated all that has been lost or continues to be ignored. First Australians have much to teach later coming Australians about taking care of a place with tens of future generations in mind. We have treated our environment with such disdain and complacency, and have lost so much of its beauty.
This experience is what prompted me to reach out to one of the speakers from that event at The Wheeler Centre. Her name is Katerina Gaita, and she is the guest on this week’s episode.
Katerina experienced her own degree of grief for our planet, albeit quite a few years before I did. She wrestled with it for quite some time, wondering if there was any point in trying to do anything about it. As she thought about this, she asked herself, “Have I given up hope?” When the answers was a clear “No”, Katerina decided to do all she could to start to reduce and reverse the impacts of rapid climate change.
Katerina and I had a hopeful and contemplative conversation about the reality of the time we are living in, the possible ways of making a meaningful impact, and how each of us can contribute to this with a relatively small amount of effort, and achievable change to how we live.
It was a poignant and uplifting conversation, and I hope you enjoy listening.