"We as human beings tend to confuse the unprecedented with the improbable", former US vice-president Al Gore told the July 13 launch of the new environmental NGO, Safe Climate Australia (SCA). Present were 1000 invited guests including environment activists, business representatives and professionals working in related fields.
Gore, who described himself as a "recovering politician", expressed his support for PM Kevin Rudd and said the US and Australian government legislation to deal with climate change (in Australia, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) was the best the current political system could deliver.
However, he also suggested that even the world's most leading responses still fell short of what was required to avert the increasingly probable disaster of runaway climate change.
SCA says its purpose "is to identify and catalyse action on the societal transformations and solutions needed to achieve a safe climate for Australia, and for the planet, at emergency speed".
SCA founder Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a scientific authority on the Great Barrier Reef, told the meeting that 30% of the reef had been lost and the rest would follow if climate change continued. He said the climate would end up "unlike anything seen in 20 million years" if people did not take action. He called for a campaign to achieve zero carbon emissions within the next decade.
Ian Dunlop, former chair of the Australian Coal Association and SCA founder, told the function: "Despite two decades of global negotiations virtually nothing has been done."
He said SCA would fund research based on scientific reality, not what is narrowly thought to be politically possible. He appealed to the crowd to help raise $1.5 million each year for three years to fund its research.
Dunlop also launched the fundraising event, "Run for a Safe Climate". In November, 35 emergency services workers will undertake a 6000km run linking many of Australia's climate-sensitive natural icons to draw attention to the threat of climate change.
Sponsors included VicSuper, Pacific Hydro, the Environmental Protection Authority and Mercedes Benz.
[Visit SCA's website at www.safeclimateaustralia.org.]