As we rang in the New Year for 2020, I had a similar feeling of deep apprehension and anxiety to when I turned on the news coverage of planes flying into the World Trade Centre in 2001. After the initial shock and horror, I imagined the implications, thinking ‘Is this the start of WWIII? I have a two and a half year old daughter; how will this impact her? What kind of world have I brought her into?’

Now, as a parent of two young adults, I would like my daughters to become mums one day (no pressure, just hope), so they can experience the joy and wonders of parenthood. But with record high temperatures across the planet, our polar caps degrading, more frequent and damaging storms and droughts, as I watch the news coverage of fires engulfing people, property, parkland and wildlife, I wonder what Earth will be like in 10-20 years and whether my daughters will want to bring children onto this planet.

I’ve talked with many people, particularly parents, about their thoughts and feelings on this, to gauge if my own reaction is over the top. It isn’t: they also express huge anxiety, fear and anger. Like me, they want a positive future for their kids and the world, they don’t like where we are heading. Like me, they believe that we should lead by example, no matter how little Australia’s emissions contribute to the global problem. They want direction on what we can do to make a difference, on personal, community, company, media and government levels.

Listen to the experts and the facts

Sir David Attenborough – the leading authority who has documented the flora and fauna of the planet for over 50 years – has been trying to get world leaders to listen to him and act to mitigate climate change for decades. 97% of climate scientists are united behind this message.

Climate change deniers still don’t believe the evidence when it’s stacked up in front of them, or they can’t because they are financially and/or politically conflicted. Successive governments have put off making decisions about investing in alternative energy sources and transitioning the country to a low carbon economy.

Listen to our youth – they will be living with our decisions

16-year-old Greta Thunburg from Sweden put it bluntly: ‘Act as if your house is on fire, because it is’. She has inspired action in some parts of the world while others condescendingly tell her to ‘chill and go watch a movie’. I’m glad she inspired many of our schooler students to strike to bring it to everyone’s attention and that climate change is now in everyday conversation.

Unite to reduce carbon emissions

With drought and bushfires devastating our country, people are rightly angry.

What we don’t need is anymore denial, egos, blame-shifting, greed, politicking, roadblocks, fearmongering, misinformation or fake news. We’re sick of that – it’s just causing paralysis and delays when united global action is urgently needed.

What we do need is strong, focussed leadership, a can-do attitude, solutions, a plan and clear communication on what we can do, how it will help, what it will cost and how we can be a catalyst for change across the globe. If we take a proactive and bipartisan approach, we can transition to new industries, grow new jobs and save our people, flora, fauna, and the world.

How I’m making a difference

Bill Gates has moved his focus from curing the world of malaria and polio to curing the world. Our local start-up hero from Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brooks, fiercely advocates for renewable power and puts his money where his mouth is by investing in technologies and renewable projects to lower emissions for his children’s and our future. Here’s what I’m doing:

Personally

  • Donating to the Red Cross and sharing useful links and information on climate change, the current fires and how people can help, on social media
  • Working with my family to ensure we reduce our use of water (e.g. by taking shorter showers with a bucket to catch water for the garden), electricity (e.g. by buying energy efficient appliances and LED lights) and plastic, and that we avoid, reduce and recycle waste.

Professionally (through my company, gemaker)

  • Donating cash to the Rural Fire Service and new STEM books to the four schools on the South Coast that lost their libraries.
  • Continuing to provide flexible, decentralised employment for my team, so they can work from home and minimise transport emissions.
  • Conducting market research into technologies, knowledge and ideas that can enable a rapid transition to a low carbon economy, and publicly sharing trustworthy information and contacts for maximum impact.

I’m also forming a group of intelligent, pragmatic and influential professionals and business people to brainstorm ideas and combine our efforts to move the conversation past whether climate change is real, to how we will transition to a low carbon economy. We will identify opportunities for Australia, our companies, communities and families, and create 1-, 3- and 5-year action plans.

If the Australian bushfires have made you feel as scared as you were on 9/11, and you want to be involved in positive action against climate change, please let me know.