Grey skies and drizzle did not dampen the spirits of the action group from Friends of the Earth Australia as they gathered in a gazebo on the foreshore of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, Australia. They were preparing to embark on a 100km walk over five days, to raise awareness of rising sea levels and climate change.
“Now is an important time to bring awareness to the public, particularly because of the upcoming Copenhagen climate change convention,” says passionate environmentalist Cam Walker. “The Australian Government needs to take action on climate change, as we are the highest producers of greenhouse gas omissions. As a wealthy nation we need to set an example to the rest of the world.”
As the core-walking group followed the arc of the bay, different groups of people, such as, school children, kayakers on the water and environmental refugees, joined in on smaller sections of the journey.
“Including the public in these campaigns are important so we can make necessary changes. As far as climate change is concerned, it’s happening faster than anticipated,” Mr Walker said.
Pacific Islanders, now residing in Melbourne, also met the walkers. Rising sea levels are particularly important to them as they are experiencing first hand the effects of climate change.
Island states like Kiribati [pronounced Ki-ri-bas] and Tuvalu have already been forced to relocate villagers because of rising sea levels while larger Pacific nations like Fiji and Papua New Guinea are preparing communities for relocation.
“Pacific Islanders live a simple life, which has minimal impact on the environment compared with us, yet they are the first ones to suffer displacement and poverty because of climate change. However, these effects will eventually bear on us all,” said Mr Walker.
At certain points of the walk, Friends of the Earth placed markers in the sand to indicate how much the sea will rise by the end of this century, unless real action is implemented soon.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea levels could rise over 80cm over the next century.
With more than 70 per cent of the world’s population living on coastal plains, and 11 of the world’s 15 largest cities located on the coast or estuaries, the impact will be felt across the board.
“A lot of people are not aware, and a lot don’t want to be aware of climate change, because being unaware means you don’t have to take action,” said enthusiastic member of the core-walking group Monique Decortis. “By changing our lifestyles, we can all do our bit to turn this situation around.
Ms Decortis advocates walking, riding a bike or taking public transport as conscious choices to live more sustainably along with supporting local produce.
“In fact, one of my favourite sayings is: ‘live simply, so that others may simply live,’” she said.
Mornington Mayor Joins In
Mornington Shire Mayor Tim Rogers showed his support and concern of the fragile coastline by accompanying the walkers along a section of the bay.
He has been active in encouraging local schools to get involved and share their thoughts on climate change by making banners, which he will personally present in Copenhagen when he travels there for the international conference.
Mr Rogers and the Shire Council are developing plans to make historical Sorrento village a carbon neutral suburb by 2014, which they hope will positively impact the way locals and tourists treat and preserve the area for the future.
“We have five issues to focus on; they are water management, waste management, transport, clean energy and the community. Implementing a carbon neutral plan into an already established town has its challenges, yet educating and working with the community and tourists is vital and will encourage them to join in and support our vision,” Mr Rogers told The Epoch Times.
There are other new environmental projects happening on the Mornington Peninsula region of Victoria, Australia, such as the $15 million Boneo water-recycling scheme, which supplies storm and run off water to the market gardens. Sorrento primary school also has a “nudie” lunch day once a week where the children bring their lunch unwrapped, thus cutting down on lunch wrappers and plastic used.
“Many people think climate change is ‘out there’ that it’s not happening. But it’s real; it’s happening. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I want to take action now, not wait until it’s too late,” Cam Walker said.