An Australian Climate Story | Derek White

People in the Southern Highlands

Background

I grew up in the countryside, running around the back blocks of Queensland playing cricket.

It was a very Australian upbringing, and very conservative too. My parents were heavily involved in the national party and while I wasn’t interested in politics back then, I guess it coloured my outlook for most of my life.

Eventually I became a mining engineer, worked all over Australia (and overseas) before settling in Sydney to bring up my family. Once the kids had grown up, Gaye and I decided to move back to the country and we’ve been living in Mittagong ever since.

My Climate Story

I didn’t believe in climate change for a long time. A combination of my upbringing, and the working environment I spent my entire career in probably did it. Perhaps it’s different in
the mining industry now, but back then, anyone talking about climate change – even the possibility that we had anything to do with it – well, they were shot down and ridiculed.

The slow and gradual build-up of evidence, however, eventually changed my mind. Combine that with the reality of seeing the Great Barrier Reef bleaching on consecutive years, massive increase of extreme weather events and then, the final straw – when we were packing up to evacuate our home as the bushfires threatened to raze it to the ground.

I’ve watched our politicians with increasing disdain as they’ve sat by and done nothing.
I’ve looked at the mess that we’re leaving our children, and eventually, I decided to do something about it. I’m now Convenor of WinZero, and I know it’s grassroots movement
like this, that are going to actually make a difference in the fight against climate change.

 

 

Hope for the future

As an engineer once you know what the problem is, all you want to do is fix it. Well there’s too much CO2 in our atmosphere, and it’s heating the planet up quicker than our ability to adapt. So the answer is simple. Stop producing excess CO2, and reduce the amount we already have in the atmosphere.

We already have everything we need to be able to do that, so my hope for the future lies in the fact that we have the knowledge, and the technology to turn it around. 

And the growing acceptance from the general community, that something needs to be done. They say ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’. Well in this instance, there’s already a way, we just haven’t had the will yet. But it’s happening now. 

 

One Simple Thing

If everyone could do just one simple thing, I’d say install solar panels on your roof. They’re not too expensive, will reduce your electricity bills immediately, and will pay for themselves before long. There’s really no need to burn fossil fuels for energy, when there’s power simply falling out of the sky. That’s a major part of the answer right there. 

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