Planet Earth is the place humans have always called home. However, many of us take it for granted and with the global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, can we continue to live the way we do?
While none of us knows for sure, we called on five experts, who live this daily in their professions, to give us their views. Although it’s literally a big topic, by addressing a mix of macro and micro perspectives we got some clarity on what we can do and how stuffed we really are.
Getting us underway was the magnificently named anaesthetist and intensive care physician, Forbes McGain. Beyond his day job of saving lives, Forbes has taken note of the frightfully large impact the healthcare system is having on our environment. The irony of saving the population in the short-term, only have it suffer down the line isn’t lost on Forbes and he highlighted some of the seemingly small choices the medical industry can make to improve the health of our planet.
We aren’t the only species occupying the Earth and we are certainly in a better position than many that we co-exist with - over 20 species are considered critically endangered in Australia alone. As the CEO of Zoos Victoria, Jenny Gray is pretty well placed to share a few sad but hopeful stories about some of these creatures. The way we approach animal welfare and conservation has improved dramatically over the decades although Jenny was the first to admit we have a long way to go to ensure future generations are able to live in a world with lions and tigers and bears - oh my!
Technological developments have been both a blessing and a curse for the environment over the centuries. Greenpeace’s CTO, Luke Giuliani shared his experiences of how utilising technology has helped power activism and make the world a better place. Across social, cultural, political and economic touchpoints, technology has helped Luke, and Greenpeace, hyper-charge their campaigns and spread the word, to those who can make a difference, further than ever before.
Melbourne is arguably the coffee capital of the world and according to our next speaker, Kaitlin Reid, 350,000 coffees in the city go into landfill daily. So what? Well, that equates to 4,500 tonnes of ground coffee, or more concerningly, 8,500 tonnes of toxic methane gas. We are completely destroying the earth every single day before 9 am and we don’t even know it. This is the problem Kaitlin’s Reground is trying to solve by not only diverting 165,000 lattes from landfill every single week but making us aware enough to ask our barista, where does my morning coffee go next?
So by now, we were all feeling like things weren’t looking too good for the place we call home. Cue Professor Ray Wills to lighten the mood and send us home with a sense of optimism. Ray works on sustainability, technology and futurism across all sectors and believes the future of energy, and specifically, renewables is looking so rosy, that we’ll invent our way out of trouble. All the major institutions have, incorrectly, underestimated the growth of renewable energy and like many old technologies, Ray believes oil, coal and natural gas will simply be usurped by more sustainable energy sources.
Like the rest of us, Real Big Things will be taking a well-earned break over the summer holidays but will be back, recharged and reloaded before you know it.
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