“The people of Torres Strait taught me climate change is not something for people in faraway countries or in the distant future to worry about. Climate change is impacting people here in Australia in devastating ways, but this story remains largely unheard. There was a great phase said by one of the speakers – if we save the islands, we save the planet. And it is true – if we use our ambition and intellect to reduce emissions and prevent irreversible damage occurring on the most vulnerable people in the most fragile places – then we also manage to save everyone else and all the other places we love and call home.” Anika Molesworth
Anika Molesworth (right) with Natalie Isaacs founder of 1 Million Women.
Anika Molesworth, already on the forefront of research and action on global climate change, was invited to be a mentor at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, held in Brisbane in the first week of June. Here she discovered the devastating ways in which Australia is already affected by climate change, and how people at home can make a positive difference.
Led by former US Vice President Al Gore, the training was a three-day event providing “citizens concerned about the future of our planet with a strong understanding of climate science as well as the critical communications, strategy, and advocacy skills necessary to mobilise communities and catalyse solutions to the climate crisis.”
The Brisbane event attracted 800 participants and, as a mentor, Anika was assigned a table of 12 mentees.
“The energy in the room for hundreds of motivated climate changers was fantastic. With a primary focus on Australia and a regional focus on the Asia-Pacific we learnt about the impacts from summer heatwaves, raging bushfires and the real consequences of climate inaction on livelihoods, human health and natural ecosystems. We also heard from inspiring speakers who are reasons for hope; with a diverse coalition of courageous voices – many from Indigenous and frontline communities – calling for bold and ambitious transitions to a low-carbon future.” she says
Anika’s mentees were Year 11 and 12 secondary students and first year university students who discussed with her the recent student strikes and their disappointment at their school curriculum not educating on topics of great global importance.
“They taught me you don’t have to have a title or be in a position of power to have influence and be a change-maker. The importance of climate education in schools cannot be overstated. Young people are being recognised for facing up to challenges many find too difficult to engage with. Youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders today.”
Anika was also impressed by fellow mentor Natalie Isaacs. By learning how she could be more environmentally responsible in her own household, Natalie set about helping others do the same and in the process built a network of 1 Million Women championing climate action.
“Natalie exemplifies that change starts with you, right where you are now,. Big change is good, but small changes at home and in the workplace are essential. Evaluate your impact as an individual and don’t underestimate the good you can do by changing small things within your power.” say Anika
The highlight of the event for Anika was a contingent of people from the Torres Strait Islands and their stories of how climate change is affecting them here and now.
“Working on matters of climate change for over the past decade I know well the plight of the Pacific Island nations – such as Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands – and what climate change and sea level rise means for these communities and environments, but, I am ashamed I knew so little about what is actually happening right here in Australia. To learn about how climate change is destroying homes, unsettling communities rich in culture, tides washing away sites of great importance – right here in Australia – was truly upsetting and once again highlighted the urgency of the situation.”
Last week I made 800 new friends at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps. The energy in the room could have powered all of Australia, as we learnt about climate science, catalyzing change in our communities, and pathways to transition to a low-carbon future.
Thanks to everyone who made this event possible and to all the people in this photo who brighten my day and fill me with optimism.