Michael Williams on Climate Change Fatigue

Working as Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre has brought its surprises, its challenges and its learning curves, but perhaps none as pronounced as working on the 2010 Alfred Deakin Lecture series. Under the guidance of Curator Tim Flannery and Strategic Director Nick Rowley, I’ve been introduced to a whole (dare I say it brave) new world of people working to improve their work practices, their businesses and their ways of life in the face of climate change.

I consider myself an engaged and well-informed person, one with a social conscience who is passionate about campaigning for a range of issues from human rights to the environment. From time to time I would even have referred to myself as an activist in those areas. But if I’m being completely honest, I’d have to admit that I know very little about climate change. I believe in it. I believe it’s the most serious problem confronting the human race. So I… I recycle and turn off lights when I leave rooms. I am guilty of the very thing it infuriates me to hear the government hide behind: climate change fatigue. Because let’s face it, with a problem this big, nearing a saturation point of endless talk and discussion and reportage, it’s hard to know where to start. My brain has been as switched off as my electrical appliances. I care, but what of it?

As we’ve gathered the speakers together for the intensive week of Deakins 2010, I’ve begun to learn and listen again. I’m unlikely to be working in high-end finance, but reading essays by Denny Ellerman or John Daley has opened my eyes to the ways in which big business shouldn’t be hiding behind the cost of things, the ways business could be overhauled to respond to the new world order. I’m probably never going to have to do extensive agricultural work, but Johannes Lehmann’s thoughts on what could be done with soils have already helped make me see the world differently.

I can say geo-sequestration without giggling, so that feels like some kind of personal growth. Overcoming my own fatigue has been about feeling better informed and better armed with the individual changes we can be lobbying our government and our businesses for. I can’t wait for the conversation to begin on June 6. I still have a lot to learn.

Michael Williams is the Head of Programming at the Wheeler Centre.

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