Salvation by Powerpoint

500 people from 32 countries gathered in Melbourne last week to be trained by Al Gore and some of the world’s leading climate scientists, campaigners, communication and psychology experts. Samantha Morris was one of those selected for the Climate Reality Leadership program. She shares five things she learned that will help you navigate the climate change maze.

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1. There is no denying the science. Scientists agree that climate change is already happening and that humans are the cause. Because most ‘debates’ have one person speaking about climate change and one denying its existence, this gives the viewer or reader the sense that there’s a 50/50 divide. There’s not. There is only one way to have a statistically valid debate about climate change and that involves having three people explain why they don’t believe in climate change, and 97 people explaining the science. As John Oliver says, polling people as to whether they believe in climate change or not is like having a poll that asks “are there hats?”

2. What shits climate scientists the most? I think Professor Andrew Pitman, Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science says it best.

 “Many people who would not dream to claim they understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work seem happy to wax lyrical on their views on climate change.

A politician or media identity who would be laughed out of office if they said “vaccines don’t work” or “I am certain the moon is made of cheese” happily speak equivalent rubbish on climate science, believing their views deserve credit.

I want engineers to build bridges; I want a trained surgeon to operate on hearts and I want some of our decision-makers and commentators to either shut up, or familiarise themselves with climate science well enough to talk sense.”

3. There is good news though. And it comes from the sun.

“Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. By 2020 more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.” So says Al Gore in a recent story he penned for Rolling Stone.

And if Australian data is anything to go by, he’s on the money. Between 2011 and 2013, rooftop solar capacity more than doubled and there are more than 1.1 million rooftop PV systems across the country.

4. We need serious political will to address global warming and halt emissions before it’s too late. Rush Limbaugh probably doesn’t provide the best example of strong political will, or even a basic understanding of science. Or cohesive thought.

“I have a theory about global warming and why people think it’s real. Go back 30, 40 years when there was much less air conditioning in the country. When you didn’t have air conditioning and you left the house, it may in fact have gotten a little cooler out there, because sometimes houses become hot boxes. Especially if you’re on the second or third floor of a house in the summer time and all you’ve got is open windows and maybe a window fan. Or you have some servant standing there fanning you with a piece of paper. Now, 30, 40 years later, all this air conditioning, and it’s a huge difference when you go outside. When you go outside now, my golly, is it hot.”

Wait what did you say Rush? You’ll have to speak up. I can’t hear you over the weight of scientific evidence.

5. I have more good news though. There are now 6 climate reality leaders right here on the Gold Coast equipped to fight the good fight one Powerpoint presentation at a time. You’ve heard of death by Powerpoint. What about salvation by Powerpoint? Since 2007, one in 60 Australians have seen a Climate Reality Presentation. You can book a free presentation through climaterealityproject.org.

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