Damon Gameau paints a compelling vision for what our world could look like in 2040 if we embrace the best of what we have today.
It’s hard not to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair when we see news headlines about climate change, isn’t it? Scientists are telling us that the state our planet is in, is so dire, that even if we accelerate the pace of change, it’s too late, that it is a problem that cannot be fixed.
If the stories we tell become our reality, this is a dangerous narrative, isn’t it?
Indeed, scientists have found that feeling hopeless about a situation is cognitively associated with inaction and predicts decreased goal-directed behaviour .
In his latest documentary, 2040, Damon Gameau (of “That Sugar Film” fame) provides a refreshingly optimistic perspective on climate change. It’s structured as a conversation with his four-year-old daughter, who will be 25 in the year 2040.
Damon takes us on a journey of what our world could look like if we embraces the best of what already exists today.
Solar energy, for instance, is the primary source of energy in Bangladesh, where more than 20 million people in rural communities are producing their own electricity from decentralised solar electricity grids. Their target is to use 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Our oceans have become 30% more acidic in the past 20 years – this is faster than any known change in ocean chemistry in the past 50 million years. Clams, mussels and oysters are having trouble producing their shells, and we’re experiencing more intense weather events. Hearing that made my heart sink, as I’m sure reading it, makes yours.
But alas, there is hope. Seaweed restores alkalinity and enables shellfish and other creatures to thrive, and could play a profound role in drawing down carbon, as it grows it absorbs carbon dioxide. It grows by an astonishing five metres a day and can grow to 50 metres long. Not only does it balance carbon but it also brings back fish stocks. Makes you wonder why seaweed farms aren’t popping up all over our oceans, doesn’t it? There aren’t any commercial seaweed farms in Australia, yet.
It’s predicted that there will be an extra billion cars worldwide by 2040. Cars contribute to 20% of carbon emissions in the US. Anyone who lives in an over-populated city knows this is testing not only our environment, but our mental and physical health. While I’m not sure how safe I’d feel in a driverless car, and being reliant on ride-share vehicles for getting from a to b, Damon raises valid points about the need to reconsider car ownership and move towards electric cars. He also paints a heart-warming utopian vision for what we could do with all the extra space without the need for car parks – like create green spaces for urban food growing.
Did you know that degradation of soil is a bigger cause of climate change than burning fossil fuels? Not only are pesticides used in agriculture producing sickness in humans, but they impact the quality of our soil and its ability to store carbon. Healthy soil depends on carbon. Alas, we can use plants to pull carbon from the atmosphere and put into soil.
A topic I wasn’t expecting to be raised in the film was the importance of educating and empowering girls in developing countries to be who they want, and the role this plays in family planning and curbing population growth. At the moment 63 million girls won’t get the chance to finish school.
While some of the big picture solutions might feel beyond our control, there are small things we can do each day to play our part. “We all have influence, and we can all affect change,” says Damon.
It could be something as simple as using a different search engine – Eco Asia, for example, plants trees while you search. They publish their financial results and contributions each month. In Feb 2019 they invested nearly 500,000 euros (their monthly income was 1.1 million euros) to plant 1.5 million trees. I’ve changed my default homepage to ECO ASIA – who knew searching the web could feel so good?
“The greatest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will save it. There is no one else, it’s us, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, so join the regeneration and get involved.”Damon Gameau
All carbon emissions generated during the production of the film were audited – 2,000 tonnes were emitted into the atmosphere, all of which was offset through the purchase of carbon credits, and they went one step further with the planting of a small native forest in northern NSW, which is estimated could store up to 90 tonnes of carbon by 2040. Nice touch, hey?
We need hope for our world more than ever before. I just can’t imagine what it must like to be a child of today, to live in fear of an uncertain and bleak future for the world they have been brought into. The footage of children at the climate action strikes was heart breaking. The need to change the narrative and take action is urgent. 2040 provides a thought-provoking platform to start these conversations and start making and inspiring changes within your circle of influence.
2040 premiers in Australian cinemas 23 May 2019 (and internationally later this year). Special screenings and Q&A’s with Damon are being held across Australia in April and May – head to www.whatsyour2040.com for details. A full website and action platform will launch late April, with resources to help you start conversations and take action in your local community, school, workplace and/or home.
Note: this post is not sponsored – I attended “Damon Gameau & Clare Bowditch on how to change the world” – the Sydney premier of 2040 and unique School of Life experience, as a guest of The School of Life.