LOCAL environmentalist Maggie Riddington will be speaking to Baw Baw residents about climate change after receiving training from former US Vice President-turned environmental campaigner Al Gore.
Above: Maggie Riddington is keen to talk climate change with West Gippsland.
This article was first published in the 11 July 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
Ms Riddington was one of 400 people chosen to take part in the Climate Reality project for the first time last month, which involved a three day training seminar in Melbourne.
“Al Gore’s been running it for quite a number of years now and has been expanding it around the world,” Ms Riddington told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“For instance, at our training there were 32 countries repres-ented. That was the 25th training session and there were over 525 people present.
“The Australian Conservation Foundation really, really was pushing the Climate Reality project and Al Gore to come to Australia this year. It’s a really important year and we really need that kick up the bum to be taking action now.”
Speakers at the seminar included a number of scientists trained in climate science, psychology, marketing, communications and public relations.
“Al Gore spoke to us for a full day. He was teaching us, he was interacting, there were question and answer times and it was really inspiring to see someone who has obviously dedicated [so much] time to the cause,” Ms Riddington said.
“I got to meet him. It was pretty crazy to see so many people getting really excited.”
The goal of the program was to train people in how to talk about climate change to their local communities.
“The training was not only learning the practical side of climate science, but it was also about how to deliver it to the community, how to have one-on-one conversations and just being able to talk to people and get the message across,” Ms Riddington said.
“When people understand the message and really understand what’s at stake and also how hopeful we are and all the good things that can come from [climate action], that’s when they really get on side and start taking action as well, and obviously action is what we’re really striving for in the end.”
Ms Riddington said she planned to engage with a wide variety of community members, but would start with groups she was familiar with.
“I know that the Baw Baw Sustainability Network would be interested and has a lot of people who would like to know more and who would like to be spreading the word further among their com-munity as well,” Ms Riddington said.
“I’ve also got a fond place in my heart for Warragul Regional College and Warragul Primary School… and I think it would be really good to be talking to the young people of Warragul.
“I think it would be really important to be speaking to the people of Gippsland who can be doing things from their own homes, who can be a really active part of their community for a really positive thing.
“I don’t just want to tell people my point of view, I don’t just want to presume I know the most because of this training, I want to ask them [what they think].”
Ms Riddington said she would approach local politicians after she had got a feel for what the concerns of the area were and the kind of response to climate change the people of Baw Baw wanted.
“I would like to be a messenger to politicians,” Ms Riddington said.
Interestingly, the focus of her talks will not solely be on the negatives of climate change, but also on what positives could be brought from a bad situation.
“Climate change tends to get a really, really negative place in the media,” Ms Riddington said.
“Obviously there are negatives, it’s not a good thing, but I think there are a lot of positives to take from it,” she said.
“There’s a lot of room for growth and a lot of room for economic development and jobs in the renewable energy sector.”
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