Leadership
Climate change: get used to it
There is no choice but to adapt

According to Nobel winning Professor David Karoly (Melbourne University), lead author of the UN’s final IPCC report, even if we could magically stop all carbon emissions today, it would not prevent the huge changes to climate that are coming our way. Be assured, our physical world is set to change beyond all recognition.

Those changes will include rising sea levels and increasingly dramatic weather patterns, lurching from extreme drought to violent storms and floods. We will be forced to eventually change our whole way of life.

But this is nothing new. Throughout the ages, Mankind has always had to adapt to big changes, from flood to ice age and expanding desert. In fact, adaptation for us is a natural state: it’s hard wired into our genes.

In the past Mankind was able to freely exploit the Earth’s resources with little consequence. But that time is over. From today we can think differently. We have the know-how and the incentive to create a sustainable future, one that will utilise our natural inventiveness, that may just give us the best quality of life we have ever experienced.

There is no force like committed youth

Our Science Patron, Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal, believes in youth. He says: ‘Their enthusiasm, courage and energy lend a special flavour to their endeavours’. Our youth is generally well ahead of adults in terms of their understanding the challenges of climate change.

As American anthropologist Margaret Mead reminded us: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’.

And that is what the Arctic Climate Leadership Challenge is designed to be: a small group of 120 thoughtful, committed young citizens who will be at the core of climate change adaptation that will redefine Australia.

Measured in long-term economic and social benefits, ACLC Alumni can be expected to generate quantum returns on the modest investment that business and government will be asked to make in ACLC.

But measured in terms of the continuity of our families and traditions, indeed the Australian story itself, no cost-benefit analysis could adequately address the important role that ACLC will play.

And ACLC will be a force for change to be reckoned with. Australia has 3.4 million students (currently enrolled in primary and secondary education), with 980,000 of them engaged in Years 9-12. Together with their immediate families, ACLC will be addressing the hopes, futures and interests of some ten million Australians.

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Severity of drought will deepen

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Intensity of storms will increase

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They know what damage they inherit from us. Now they will help us adapt to the consequences.

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