The incoming president of Goulburn’s climate change action group is not interested in talking to climate change deniers; instead, expansion will come from connecting with like-minded people and organizations locally and regionally.
“It’s about connecting the dots and combining with these like-minded people and groups so we aren’t insular and that people know we exist,” The Goulburn Group (TGG) President Doug Rawlinson said.
The horticulturalist, former small businessperson and heritage advocate believes wholeheartedly in the climate threat, including how that might play out economically.
“People don’t realize there’s a threat until they experience it. It’s one of our biggest challenges…convincing people of climate change. However, I believe that young people are quietly listening and asking questions and there are others who are also quietly working it out. They are the people I want to make contact with,” he said.
While not a landslide for the Coalition Government, Saturday’s Federal election held lessons for the major parties. TGG supported the three candidates that ran on a platform of addressing climate change: the ALP, the Greens, and Independent Huw Kingston. Local MP and Coalition Energy Minister Angus Taylor held the seat of Hume with a convincing majority.
That’s not going to deter TGG. The group was founded in 2007 with a belief that “transitioning to a low-carbon economy is urgent, both locally and nationally. Membership is open to people who share our vision and concerns.”
The group has several successful projects completed, and on the go, including building a community solar farm, Backyard biodiversity, Goulburn Wetlands, Goulburn free wi-fi and the establishment of several Tesla Supercharges to repower electric cars which are already located in the local visitor centre’s carpark.
“People know that something is wrong with our climate. They are quietly worried but don’t know what to do, however, there are people coming forward who’ve never taken action before wanting to contribute [to climate change advocacy],” Doug said.
“We had two local doctors protesting out the front of Angus Taylor’s office recently. They are probably not the “normal demographic” to protest, but they did and I commend them for their action.”
Much of the difficulty for political parties running on significant climate change mitigation strategies have been reaching wider, into a demographic that may not be aware of, or are denying, climate change science.
“We believe in technology, particularly the science behind our mobile phones but not in climate change. Most people won’t perceive the threat until there is not enough milk in the supermarkets or bread on the shelves. When there are only four cheese varieties available and not 60, or when petrol goes up to $2.50 a litre.
“I maintain you don’t need to know the intricacies of the science but you do need to listen to the scientists.”
Doug has grown plants and vegetables since he was a young boy. Born and bred in Goulburn, he spent many years operating a successful horticulture and nursery business in the region.
“I’ve been growing plants since I was 7-8 years old and I didn’t have any trouble growing stuff back then in Goulburn – I was growing 22-inch long broad beans. Now I have all this training and experience…my garden was voted the best in town in 2016, but I’m struggling to get as much out of it. I’ve had to climate-proof it…adapt, or I would have lost it,” he said.
“When the temperature goes from 28 degrees to 40 degrees in a couple of hours you know you have a problem. I believe that our farmers see this happening too and I don’t think they can sit on the fence with climate change.”
Election and climate change aside, TGG and, indeed, Goulburn are likely to benefit from Doug’s experience.
“All biological life is under threat, some urgent, some reaching their tipping point. Protecting nature is paramount in ensuring we all have a positive future,” Doug said.
His advice for those lamenting an election loss which would have ambitiously pushed Australia into a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy? Stay focused. Take action.
“You can lead by example. Don’t feel alone with it; it’s not a waste of time.”