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  • Writer's pictureRichard Plumpton | ii |

Sleepless nights and terrifying optimism.

[Image Sleepless Night | © The Grit & Grace Project]

Working at The Climate Institute had many advantages. Not least the day-to-day interaction with a constant stream of visionary & inspirational experts from right across the field.

Unfortunately it also exposed me daily to the most up-to-date research into the likely impacts facing us as the shifts we are causing start to have a more marked affect. I got to see behind the scenes of the political train smash that climate policy has become in Australia and witnessed the detrimental impact that the way certain elements of the media reports on the issue has on the broader population.

I also got to understand the sheer weight of money being expended by the climate deniers to maintain the status quo.

Depressing would be an understatement for many of my days working there.

However, I'm nothing if not a 'pragmatic optimist'.

I genuinely believe that this decade will prove to be the lowest point in the efforts to address climate change. That we are in the middle of the final throes of the climate deniers seemingly endless campaign to prevent us moving towards zero-carbon prosperity. That unstoppable momentum is building in a number of critical areas including cleantech innovation, clean energy investment and (finally) sound, long-lasting climate policy. That last one is, unfortunately, none too prevalent in Australia at the moment.

That's not to say I'm not terrified at the prospect of what humanity is likely to face in the years to come.

The impacts already locked in because of our collective inability to change course fast enough. The last desperate attempts by the climate deniers to do anything to stop change from happening. The human suffering that will lie at the heart of it all.

And having to explain to my daughters what it all means when they are old enough.

There are nights when terrified really isn't a strong enough word to capture what I'm feeling.

But we have to deal with the here and now.

There's no going back to change what's happened. There's no use in thinking about 'what might have been.'

We need to steel ourselves for all the challenges ahead. To keep trying to find the biggest positive impact each one of us can have to help accelerate the changes human society needs to make. And hope like hell that all those smart, passionate people looking for solutions have enough time to find them.

I think of myself as an optimist so always seem to see the paths that will allow it to happen. But it's sometimes a terrifying optimism to hold onto at 3.00am in the morning.

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