I have spent the last three days in Melbourne with 525 people from 32 counties. We were there to become Mini Me’s of Al Gore. You know the guy.
Mr Gore leads the Climate Reality Project – an organisation leading a movement to get community, business and government to act on the climate crisis. The theme of the work hasn’t changed much since “Inconvenient truth”. The problem is even more apparent. The science is now clearer. The solutions are cheaper and more available. Encouragingly, it appears there’s political will in the USA and China, which together account for 70 per cent of harmful ‘greenhouse gases’.
As a part of this, there’s a “Leadership Corps” where everyday people are trained to tell the story and advocate for change. I was one of those trained. It was the 25th training since inception. This was the third ‘class’ in Australia. I applied to be a part of it a few months ago because I am concerned about the climate crisis and the direction the issue is taking in Australia. I also see the environment as being a part of my personal and professional future. I will write more about is in the coming days. This is just a quick post-training post.
Two things struck me about the last three days. First, it was the every day people who turned up to be a part of this. They weren’t all rabid ‘greenies’; they weren’t all the usual community suspects; they weren’t the professional protester crowd. They were people from all walks of life. Everyday people concerned about extraordinary issues which threaten the future of humanity. And yes, it is that serious. There were teachers, researchers, PR people, students, those who work in renewable energy, firefighters, investment fund managers, mums and dozens more ‘categories’. Some wanted to go big and tell the world about the need for change. Some were content to work the local school community and talk to classes of students. One guy wants to do a comedy show as a means by which to communicate the need for action. All in all, they were ‘concerned citizens’ who want to do their bit. They were so nice. They were so committed. They were so genuine. They were awesome.
The second thing that struck me was the ‘rock star’ nature of Al Gore. Amongst this group, he really is a rock star. Not only was this confirmed by those whom I was with but also by the extraordinary events of Wednesday when Al Gore convinced Clive Palmer to leave in place much of Australia’s infrastructure to address climate change. Without Gore’s intervention (in convincing Palmer not to support the government’s dismantling of Australia’s climate change infrastructure) we would have lost critical policies and instruments of policy. Mr Gore was with us for one day – all day Thursday. He started at 8 am with an inspirational speech. He then spent 90 minutes on delivering an incredible and updated version of “Inconvenient truth”. It was compelling. The passion, the authority, the charm, the dry Tennessee humour and the gravitas were incredible. Then for the rest of the day, he went back and walked through each slide, slide by slide, and gave an explanation and at time used scientists to go into further detail. I had to pinch myself. This guy is a former ‘Veep’, a Nobel Laureate, Oscar winner and Apple Director. And here is is, working his own Keynote address on his MacBook and editing slides on the fly! Incredible. And he remains so passionate. A few times he got into table thumping mode. His candour was refreshing. He stopped himself lashing the Australian Government, much to the disappointment of the audience. At the conclusion of the day, Mr Gore posed with 100 people at a time for photos. It was like a school class photo. People swarmed around Mr Gore, your correspondent included. I just wanted to shake his hand. I did. I said, Mr Gore, “you are a hero of mine”. He paused, looked me in the eye, and said “thank you”, pausing again, “that means so much to me”. He moved on to the next well wisher @. It was a highlight of my life. It was like a devout catholic meeting the Pope or a Rolling Stones fan meeting Mick Jagger. I’m still grinning.
Two hours ago, I got my certificate, lapel pin and USB ‘stick’ with ‘the show’ on it. I am planning to do my bit and I will detail more about that in the next few days. For the moment, I am feeling energised, proud, honoured, privileged and, this might sound a bit silly, but ‘chosen’.
I have had a life changing experience with a world changing movement.