Climate Reality Presenters Ross Hamilton, Randall Pearce and Chris Burnup share a special bond. They were amongst the first 84 Presenters personally trained by Al Gore in 2006. Five years on they give their account of the fluctuating landscape, what involvement in the project has meant to them and share what's kept them motivated.
At the Asia Pacific Climate Congress this October, three Climate Reality Presenters Ross Hamilton, Randall Pearce and Chris Burnup shared a special bond.
These three were among the first to be trained as Climate Reality Presenters in Australia when Al Gore came to Sydney, only months after An Inconvenient Truth had hit cinemas. It was the first time the former US Vice President had trained Presenters outside of his home town of Nashville, Tennessee.
Since then, this trio have presented through thick and thin – through the high of Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol, and the low of the post-Copenhagen hangover. Between them they have conducted scores of Climate Reality presentations, and played an integral part in helping Climate Reality reach its milestone of having directly reached one in sixty-two Australians.
Five years on, they are an inspiration to their Climate Reality Project colleagues, and an embodiment of the power of Climate Reality to change the lives of its Presenters.
Ross Hamilton was asked to share some of his wisdom at the Congress. With a self-deprecating smile he explained - “If it’s big and bold, you can’t do it on your own. If it’s big and bold, create a family.” For Ross, that’s what Climate Reality has become, a second family.
Chris Burnup, a Director of Landcare Australia, agrees with Ross’ sentiments, although she admits it hasn’t always been an easy road. Chris found it particularly hard to keep enthused in the year after Copenhagen, but what kept her going was the support of the Climate Reality community.
“The only way that I maintain my enthusiasm is to integrate this enormous challenge with my personal life,” she explained.
Randall Pearce, still smiling and joking after half a decade as a harbinger of environmental crisis, is proud to admit that The Climate Reality Project has been a life-changing experience.
After losing a bid for federal office in his native Canada, he moved to Australia in 2003, where he saw An Inconvenient Truth. The film struck a chord.
“Here was another guy who lost an election in 2000, I felt a real a sense of kinship. And I saw that he was using the skills he’d learned in politics to spread this very important message and I thought, ‘I could do the same thing’,” the ever smiling Randall explained.
When Randall’s application to become a Climate Project Presenter was accepted in 2006, he didn’t know a thing about climate science or climate campaigning. “Now, I’m an official expert,” he says with a laugh. Randall has become a full-time advocate for climate change, presenting his version of Al Gore’s slide-show across Australia and New Zealand.
So, after five years, how do these veterans see the state of the climate campaign?
“If you take a step back, you can see that the rate of change has actually been very fast,” says Ross. “We’re approaching a social tipping point, and we need to be prepared.”
Chris is more cautious, “the picture has become more complex and more focused on possible solutions. We are clearly in this one for the long haul!”
Clearly they are comfortable in each other’s company, as they should be, after all, they are family.
Photos from the Congress
This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm